Bitten By the HIT Bug 38 Years Ago

I was bitten with the HIT bug about 38 years ago after seeing one of Darden’s great books and afterwords followed the lessons of him, Jones and especially Ken Leistner to the exclusion of anything else. Jone’s advice of always looking to make your workouts harder but briefer was ingrained in my head and I trained that way all the time. Reading Leistner’s columns and especially his Steel Tip newsletters always made so much sense and got you motivated.

My ‘progression’ went from a twice a week , full body routine of maybe 12 movements down to a workout of three sets taking about 12 minutes , leaving me on the floor and useless for the rest of the evening. I remember way back Dr. Darden saying something about it being rare to see someone training too hard and not enough but very common to see someone training too much but not hard enough. I didn’t want to be one of those guys and just took it way too far. If you don’t think you can’t train too hard because of very low volume , think again.

Now 50 years later even the guys who always promoted ‘to-failure’ training are no longer doing so and are advocating staying short of failure. I wonder if Leistner was still around , how he would see this change in training attitude in the HIT people as hard core as he was about training to failure and not cycling intensity ?

I agree with this change for sure and wish I changed my approach years before I did but still after training that way for so long, stopping before failure isn’t an easy habit to break and something I have to constantly remind myself of.

What I find kind of funny is training single sets to failure was something brought to our attention by Jones / Nautilus 50 years ago when everybody was training short of failure. The ‘new’ guys who have been training in a HIT manner all along think this short-of-failure is something new when it’s the way people trained all along, with great results, way before Nautilus was introduced to the exercise industry.


I have been bitten by the bug also for many years, and after reading some of Dardens books…the one thing i believe we all keep overlooking is form vs intensity or failure…at least i have (not speaking for everyone)

I have learned to achieve the results i want at 57 is to use HIT without ever sacrificing form especially on the days i chose to achieve failure and to focus on the quality of the rep over the amount of weight…don’t get me wrong, i still want to increase the reps/weight but without sacrificing form

And i also try to minimize the rest between exercises to achieve my cardio without having to perform cardio


Consistency of form is one reason why I think HIT is best done with machines. When the movement path is fixed, you have fewer ways to cheat a movement and fewer things to focus on.


Over the last several years, Ellington and I have discussed the “going to failure” issue. The bottom line is, training to failure is a mistake and limits growth. We mistakenly contributed to this mythos, and we want to set the record straight. Our goal is to help HITters (and all trainees) understand the reality of the growth-stimulating-gains-realized mystery.

Here’s what I wrote in another post:

Overtaxing the CNS increases cortisol and decreases insulin sensitivity (both are very negative and opposite of what you want). Training one set to failure serves no beneficial purpose. It overtaxes the nervous system and isn’t required for muscle growth. (Muscle tissue recovers relatively quickly, whereas the nervous system takes much longer.)

Our goal is to stimulate the most muscle growth with the least CNS stress. Training three times per week – layering specialized techniques for each body part – is ideal for beginner and advanced trainees. Pump a muscle with performance-enhancing, buffering, and growth-stimulating nutrients, then train on the pump.

It’s more complicated than this and requires substantial explanation. Hopefully, we (and the next generation) can spend the next 40 years advancing the principles.


I don’t want to tell you how to do your business, but it seems like you guys need to get busy and start cranking out some articles on this.

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After decades of training to failure, and buying everything HIT, NTF comes as quite the shock! I’d like to see more, indepth, rational behind the idea. Is there an article due?

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