T Nation


Hey T-people. I wanted to ask a few questions related to High Intensity Training and relate my experience with this type of training.

First, I have been doing a HIT (High-Intensity Training) Routine since January and my goal is to gain mass from January until June. I know this sounds like a long mass period, but I have a hard time putting on weight, and find that I need to go about 5-10 lbs heavier than where I want to be at the end of my bulking phase. My stats are 6’0 and 165, used to be 180, but mono and some weak maintenance eating and lifting last fall messed me up.

Anyways, I have done ABBH, OVT, and a regular 5x5 program and I preferred both ABBH and OVT, but found that after a month to five weeks of high volume four days a week workouts I became overtrained (slightly). Now, before anyone jumps on me let me say that my calories were around 3500 per day during these programs and I got 8-10 hours a sleep a night because I am not a big party person. Therefore, while I made good gains it seemed that I wasn’t always listening to my body, and sometimes going a little overboard.

This past winter I stumbled upon High Intensity Training, and while I don’t buy into the hype from most programs the concept sounded intriguing especially since I was in the middle of applying to law schools, going to school full time, and working 25 hours a week. All of these things did not allow me to train as often or as long as I often wanted to. So…

I went into HIT doing three days (MWF) with Monday and Friday being the same set of 11 exercises of one set (sometimes two) and wednesday being a different set of 11 exercises same format. I am never in the gym for more than 30-35 minutes, and I have noticed some awesome improvements. I use primarily only core exercises and go full out, but not to failure. I also set it up so that the exercises are grouped into a three exercise superset with rest only for taking weight off the bar and then walking to the next exercise. In between this superset of three exercises I rest for about 1-2 minutes then hit up another superset of three exercises.

I know this training sounds weird to some, but it really seems to be paying off. Now, first you have to be intense and you have to be ready for pain both in your muscles and in your lungs because the constant movement from one exercise to the next definitely impacts one’s ability to get adequate oxygen.

My current goal is to be 175-185 by the end of June. I used to be 130, I shit you not, as a senior in High School and put on about 15 lbs of muscle my senior year, but after getting to college i have a serious problem with gaining weight partly because I had not read massive eating, and partly because I did not realize that I needed to bulk for a long period of time. These are not excuses they are just facts…

Ok, so I have babbled enough. Now, what do other people think about HIT?

Your version sounds like some sort of hybird program, but it doesn’t sound like HIT. Maybe you started with HIT, but if you’re not doing one set to complete failure, it’s not HIT. I think many people around here would consider that a good thing.


Congratulations on your progress.

I have used a low volume/high frequency program similar to HIT for many years. I am now 230 pounds, about 12% bodyfat and fairly strong (405 squat for 10-15 reps, 315 for 10-12 reps on bench).

I have said it before on this forum and I will say it again: increased frequency is the missing ingredient in most people’s programs. I like to hit the major lifts at least 3 but preferably 4 - 5 times a week for 1-2 sets at a time using various rep variations. I believe HIT works not because those that gain on it are supposedly hardgainers, but because of the increased frequency of hitting each bodypart 3 or more times a week.

Even though I don’t espouse his volume recommendations, Waterbury mentioned increasing frequency as being important to strength and muscle mass gains. Many Olympic lifters do the same thing. So does Dan Johns(I think he was interviewed in article recently on this topic on this forum)

Keep using the major lifts, lift often, don’t necessarily go to failure ( a rep or two short is fine) eat an adequate number of calories, and you will grow as big as your body was meant to grow.

Best wishes,

HIT does work, but can be a very torturous workout. For it to work properly you really have to work through some pain.

I wouldn’t trust anything put out by Mentzer though. T-nation also maintains drdarden.com. Dr. Ellington Darden is probably one of the foremost experts on HIT, having helped develop it, and having worked directly with Arthur Jones.

Now if you like HIT, be sure to check out HST. It is similar enough, but you start out with low weights, and increase to max in 2 week segments. You also work out at different rep ranges.


The one thing about HIT is that you work out so intensely that it becomes a lot easier to overtrain. As you progress, you need to drop exercises, and days. I got down to working out 3 times every 2 weeks (which started me growing again) before I switched over to T-Mag.

Most people who get into HIT think it is the only way to go. I personally think it is best to treat it like just a type of workout. Use it for 12 weeks, take a week layoff, and switch to something else, like EDT. (Almost the opposite type of workout.)

Slider, I’m glad to have been off the HIT bandwagon for 7 years, but here’s my thoughts to make the most of it.

  1. Change 1/3 of your exercises every week (use some variation like dumbell bench press instead of machine press or barbell bench press). I never got more than 3 weeks of improvement with the same exercise without taking a break from it.

  2. Have a heavy day every month. Just add 25% more weight and see what you can do. Or do this for 2 exercises each workout.

  3. Cycle frequency. Example, 3 days/week (workout 1, workout 2, workout 1) then 2 days a week (2, 1).
    I think you could even go ramp up over 3 weeks: 2 workouts, 3 workouts, 4 workouts, and then drop back down to 2 and give it hell for 3 weeks.

If I wanted to give hit a try again, for whatever reason, I would definitely do these 3 things, especially rotating exercise variations so that I don’t hit anything for more than 3 consecutive weeks. If I increases the frequency though, I could prbably stick with the same exercises still for 3 weeks each.

Thanks for all the positive responses. Keep them coming.

Michaelv… I agree that I am not following the exact HIT proctocols as outlined by Ellington Darden (i.e. not really going to failure, but pretty close)

However, I think that someone mentioned already the intensity of these workouts. This intensity has a lot to do with each person’s attitude and willing to go through some pain. In fact it took me about one month before I could really just go crazy at the weights because before I would go hard and then feel like puking (I have semi-weak stomach and make sure not to have food in there before workout…etc)

Also, I wanted to clarify a few things. First, I felt that programs like OVT had me doing too much volume over time for my body. I still really enjoy OVT and will probably switch to it in May and June, but modify it slightly to allow for more recovery.

As for other people’s recommendations (i.e. Mertdawg) I am excited to try some of these. I have switched up exercises after about 6 to 8 weeks, and am currently on a second HIT cycle. I think I will continue HIT until end of April and then see where I am.

Finally, I have noticed that taking time off as Caveman mentioned in his “Grateful” thread has really been useful to my overall growth (especially for us hardgainers) For instance, when I felt extra tired I would workout only Monday and Wednesday or Monday and Friday to let my body recover without taking a whole week off, and then Row on the ergonmeters for 5000 meters on the weekend. This not only helps maintain the intensity, but I notice that with these extra rest days I can also get in a lot of excess calories. :slight_smile:
Keep the comments coming…

p.s. On tuesday and thursday evenings I do a superset of various ab exercises from CT’s articles (babehounds) and from Romaniello’s “Pretty Boy Abs.”

I went from 6’4" 180 or so to 225 in 8 months on a HITlike workout. Got to a 400 squat and 225 incline. Then like an idiot I quit squatting because I was feeling self conscious about how big my legs had gotten. Anyway that was 12 years ago.

I don’t do true HIT but I do single set training per exercise. It’s the only thing that has ever worked for me. I’m just getting back into it after attempting to lift like a powerlifter these last 10 months. That didn’t work.

For single set stuff I really don’t think you have to lift to failure every workout. I think that is the most glaring flaw in the HIT philosophy as there is not really any logical reason to lift to failure. Also the short rest periods are nonsensical for strength training. If you want to be in shape go run or do a set of squats for 50 reps.

Also I think it is good maybe to lift more often since you get so little volume. And then I wonder if mixing in some higher reps may be good for the same reason. Of course you have to go heavy somewhere along the line. I’m still experimenting. (And probably will be for the next ten years.)

I have never try HIT, but I would love to. Somehow I can’t find it with the SEARCH function. Anyone has got the link to it? Thanks!

Do a search on “Darden”. He wrote the latest book and was a very close associate of HIT inventor Arthur Jones.

Unfortunately, when I tried it I got a server error. Maybe you’ll have better luck.

[quote]michaelv wrote:
Do a search on “Darden”. He wrote the latest book and was a very close associate of HIT inventor Arthur Jones.

Unfortunately, when I tried it I got a server error. Maybe you’ll have better luck.[/quote]

Same here, I got server error also. Anyone has any ideas?

You could just go to the Ellington Darden website. You’ll know you’re there because it looks just like T-Nation.