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Training with a High Intensity vs 'High Intensity Training'

Wanted to get the discussion going on a big question that’ll have a ton of different answers: What is High Intensity Training?

When someone says they’re “a fan/follower of HIT” or they “train in a HIT-style”, what does that mean and, really, what does someone think it means when they hear it?

Traditionally, HIT is best associated with Arthur Jones or Mike Mentzer and is synonymous with full-body workouts; often, but not necessarily, machine-based exercises; generally one work set per bodypart; and training up to or beyond muscular failure. If you checked some or all of those boxes, you were training “HIT style”. If you didn’t, then you didn’t.

Training with multiple sets per bodypart is one classic example of not HIT, presuming that it cannot be “high intensity training” if you have the energy for multiple sets.

John Meadows will surely have his eyes opened on learning that a leg day with 4 sets of leg curls with a drop set, 2 sets of stiff-leg deads, 3 sets of 3-second eccentric leg presses, and 3 sets of hack squats with drop sets isn’t actually high intensity.

So, what’s the deal? Is it just a matter of people getting hung up on semantics and unnecessary labels while being drawn towards cliques? Or is there any reason to acknowledge valid differences between “this way of training” and “that way of training”?

Definitely interested in this one.

I’ll let the grown ups talk before I end up spamming it up with dick jokes though.


I generally believe High Intensity Training to be constituted of a low volume, high Intensity (going to failure or beyond with loading methods) , generally short in duration… See it’s really tough to outline because it’s so subjective. Even in Arthur Jones’s “Nautilus Training Principles Bulletin No. 1” he suggests doing 1-2 sets per exercise, but no more than 3 done to failure on 10 exercises. He also recommends against splitting the 3 full body sessions in half and training 6 days a week, but you can, just don’t let any session exceed an hour in length. So the original groundwork for HIT is actually a lot different from where it has ended up over the years. I think HIT, how we see it today is usually a routine that somewhat resembles Mike Mentzer or Ken Hutchins or Ellington Darden’s and usually seems to also require the user hate Arnold Schwarzenegger and/or Joe Weider.


I wonder what these numbers indicate? I’m accustomed to describing a movement in terms of [Sets, Reps(x, x,x)], but don’t know what the 10-10-10, 10-30-10 means or describes.

30-10 or 10-30 just refer to a 30 second negative repetition either before or after 10 standard reps (1 second up, 2 seconds down) or both in the case of 30-10-30

Thanks! That makes sense.

So, 30-10-30 would result in 80-90 sec. of time under tension/load depending on what you’re counting.

That would be pretty intense.

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Oh yes it’s super brutal, you really have to lighten the load from what you would normally do in order to last that long!

Imho…HIT can be where you take the workout to metabolic conditioning…an example could be Girondas 8x8 routine

Other examples would be
Tom Platz’s leg routine,
Colorado experiment,

I base my intensity level by % of my established 1 RM on certain compound movements.

In my opinion THIS @Chris_Colucci I actually mentioned this to someone the other day off site.

This was my take…
As long as certain established training principles for a specific goal are practiced its all good. The rest is just semantics.

OMG, Chris! Where to start with this and still have any friends to chat with on the forum in the end? LOL I do appreciate the effort to smoke peace pipe with any direction of trainee.

HIT is a term, first established by Dr Darden (in the 1970ties) as a description on the excercise regimen of Arthur Jones.

Training with high intensity can be done in astronomically many ways, in any activity. I guess by definition you would have to reach to, or close to, failure no matter what activity referred to. Lifting a refrigerator? An interesting question that probably has it’s answer buried somewhere on PubMed.

To really confuse people, there is another term labeled HIIT as an expression for High Intensity Interval Training - has nothing to do with HIT - apart from the high intensity part. Get it? Someone from the original HIT community should consult a solicitor. LOL

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Yeah. For a little while, a long time ago, I was doing sets with like a 4 second contraction, 4 second hold, 4 second extension. A set of 6 ends up just completely scorching you.

It was so-so for building size but not much at all for strength. I ended up checking it off as something that had been done and moving on.

I’m currently doing a log of 30-10-30 and hope to be able to give a solid answer or at least have some idea of how it is for hypertrophy purposes after the programs conclusion in a few weeks.


This is how I train. Typically 2-3 warm up sets then one all out to failure set, then usually several dropsets immediately after. I would do forced reps, but I typically train alone.

I, however, do a “bro-split” and use both free weights and machines; whatever gives me the contracting stimulus I need to feel.


It started out with Arthur Jones type training where all one needed to do was one set of 8-10 reps to failure per muscle group once or twice a week but it evolved to many different routines and forms. Mentzer routines are pretty high intensity . Probably half the stuff people do on here is high intensity if they are pushing it hard. Now the current workout involves slow negatives and medium speed concentrics , 30 10 30 . Sometimes its 3 30 second negatives per exercise . X Force is very high intensity, about as high as it gets for machines. It used to be if you were doing high volume and high reps it wasn’t considered hit but I say if you still are pushing it hard near or at failure it’s high intensity no matter how many reps or sets it is .

According to his books Steve Reeves used HIT 3x/week full body…but it was 3 sets to failure…Arthur Jones invented nautilus equipment and and trained individuals full body 3x week one set to failure…mentzer and Yates used their own versions…other routines have stemmed from the philosophy

Scott…when I tried xforce, I was fatigued and sore for a few days…so it’s very intense

But what had you been doing right before trying X Force? I was sort of disappointed I wasn’t sore but then again it really wasn’t X Force.

This argument has been going on forever in HIT circles but I ask , what’s the difference ? It’s 6 of one half dozen of the other !

Dardens original 30-10-30 twice a week

I think it was because we did not know what weight I could use…we started out too light and had to increase the weight…i was doing about 15 to 20 reps per exercise to failure and on the last rep was doing 10 second negatives…it was brutal

Imo HIT is a very high level of effort / work put in within a given unit of time. Given the intensity and volume co exist on an inverse ratio, very intense workouts will be relatively short.

Ive seen those 20 minute John Meadows videos, imo those workouts are as much HIT as Mentzers workouts where in the 70s/80s.