Exploring High Intensity Training or H.I.T.

Written by:  Bobby Anderson, General Manager, O2 Fitness Elliott

I’m sure you’ve heard of it, but have you tried it?

First you have to understand there is H.I.I.T., and there is H.I.T.  The H.I.T. I am referring to is High Intensity Training, not High Intensity Interval Training. Both are very effective, but our focus will be on H.I.T.

The History of H.I.T.

High Intensity Training is a form of exercise characterized by maximum effort in a short duration of time while maintaining strict form.  Nautilus inventor, Arthur Jones, helped popularize this style of training in the 1970’s while working with some of the most famous names in bodybuilding such as, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Mike Mentzer just to name a few. Both were believers of Arthur’s  philosophy of “ train harder, but train briefer”.

A Total body Workout Using H.I.T.

During High Intensity Training of the total body, the exercises are structured to work the larger muscle groups first; i.e. legs, back, chest, shoulders, triceps, biceps, etc. Each exercise is performed with max effort until it is impossible to perform another rep with good form in one set. Yes, one set.

To give a vivid example, you are using a weight that is heavy enough for you to complete only 10-12 reps; 10, you’re ready to stop, 11 you wouldn’t do normally, 12 your body says STOP – but your desire and heart says I’ve got one more. Get the picture?

To add more fuel to the muscle burning fire, your tempo should never be faster then 4-1-4!! Augggh YES IT BURNS!

Short Duration Workouts

Everyone complains about not having enough time to workout. That excuse is out the door when it comes to H.I.T.  When you put your body under such intense stress, your workouts will be shorter in duration. This style, if performed correctly, should have you out of the gym in 30-45 minutes. Wobbly and drained but out none the less.

Another added benefit of H.I.T. Is combining your aerobic and anaerobic workout simultaneously. This happens due to the intensity and tempo of the exercises being performed. Performing H.I.T. You will move from one exercise to the next without rest; maybe a sip of water but then move. By completion of your second exercise you should not be able to complete a sentence without it being broken. (I sense your eyes getting wide) Most individuals will not push themselves to such limits due to the “I”  in this style of training. Remember we ware talking true intensity.

Three Days a Week

Some of you may be thinking only three days a week…..that’s just not enough! Remember the body grows during the rest and repair phase, not in the gym. Intense exercise places an amazing amount of stress on the body. If you do not allow your body enough time between workouts to fully recover, it will lead to over training and your rate of progression will decrease. Fight the urge to to be in the gym for the sake of being in the gym.

Full Range of Motion

Regardless if you prefer free weight or machines you are cheating yourself if you are not completing a full range of motion of the muscle being worked. H.I.T. is all about full range of motion. Lets use the bicep curl for an example; look around next time you are in the gym, most people are stopping a few inches shy of full extension of the lower arm. The elbow will have a slight bend in it still. Go full range on all exercises. The seated leg curl is another great example. While performing this exercise be sure to bring the tibia pad all the way back until it hits the stop pads. Try it, see the difference, and notice the difference in an inch or two.

Muscle Isolation

This is very simple to say but hard for most to do. Isolation works a specific muscle group. By isolating a specific muscle, more separation and definition will take place. Who does not want to be more defined and have that infamous “cut” body? H.I.T. will get you there.
I feel this is easier for must to perform correctly on machines do to the apparatus itself being made for a particular muscle group. If the machine is set up and adjusted for each individual with correct seat height and restraints in place,  isolation will properly take place. If you are unsure how to adjust the equipment, do not hesitate to ask a trainer.

H.I.T. Training Guidelines:

  • Training Frequency: Depending on the level of the trainee, no more than three times a week on non-consecutive days.
  • Training volume: Two to twelve exercises hitting all muscle groups. Limit compound movements so not to exhaust minor muscle groups to soon.
  • Sets: Perform one set per exercise.
  • Reps: 10-12 can be most effective. Trust me on this one.
  • Progression: You should always progress. Each scheduled workout should progress by weight or reps. If your goal is 12 reps and you are able to complete it with strict form and a controlled tempo, increase the resistance by 5 %. Never settle for yesterdays workout.
  • Tempo: I have found in my years as a trainer a 4-1-4 tempo is best. If you are felling extremely cocky, go for a 6-2-6 tempo. (A few tears will be overlooked)
  • Range of motion: Use a full range of joint movement.

The bottom line is there are a lot of great styles and forms of workouts out there that work and are effective for you to choose from. If you’re short on time, but have the will power, then H.I.T. is for you.  So give it a try!  H.I.T. is available at O2 Fitness’ Elliott, Carrboro, Falconbridge, and Cary locations.

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