High Intensity Training: Massive muscles on 15 mins a day.

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These workouts were also meant to be far more infrequent than a normal split routine. But how do we define infrequent? How often can we work out and still get great gains? The answer lies in how you manipulate your routine so that you can be training very briefly, very intensely but yet still get into the gym 3-4 times a week without overtraining and burning out. A standard HIT training regimen involves working the entire body over one training session then taking several days off before hitting the entire body again at the next session.

A routine might look something like the following with only one set performed per exercise with 8-10 reps:

Squat/Leg Press or Deadlifts
Military (or DB) Shoulder Press
Seated lat rows
Bench Press or DB press
Biceps Curl or Hammer curl
Triceps Extension
Regular Chin-up
Parallel Dip
Calf Raise
Abdominal Crunches

Typically you would perform a routine like this on, say, Monday and then follow it up with the same routine on Thursday. Many trainees have also opted to change to a 2 day split program where by half the body is worked on Monday and then the other half on Thursday. This gives more recuperation time for each muscle group and allows for the elimination of some of the overlap involved with doing the whole body routine. This type of splitting is fine as long as the volume is kept very low, somewhere around 12-15 sets per workout or about 30 sets total for the week. This is definitely enough work IF you are taking each set to failure, a practice that true HIT devotees take very seriously indeed.

With that in mind why is it that most HIT trainees assume that this is the only way to train? What stops them from further dividing their program? After pondering this thought for some time I decided that I had to try it out. With the above listed routine in mind I began tearing it down into several workouts of 2-3 exercises each. Since the volume would be very low I decided I could afford to pick all the best exercises and incorporate them all into the schedule while still making sure there was very little overlap between days of training. With that much in mind here’s the routine I recommend:

Deadlift 1 x 20 (5 seconds rest after each rep)
Shrugs (DB or bar) 1 x 10
Chins 2 x 6-8

Bench Press (DB or Bar) 2 x 4-6
Shoulder press (DB or bar) 1 x 10
Lateral raise 1 x 15

Squats 2 x 4-6
Leg curls 1 x 15
Calf Raises (seated or standing) 2 x 15

Close Grip Bench lockouts 1 x 6-8
Pushdowns 1 x 10
Barbell curls 1 x 10
Incline Dumbell curls 1 x 6-8
Crunches 2 x 15

That’s the entire routine. Each day’s training takes no more than 15 minutes IF you are training intensely. I could usually complete my workout in about 10 minutes. With this in mind I can honestly say there is not a single soul out there who can’t manage to get the body that they crave.

Obviously even on the most rigid of schedules there is a way to get in some kick ass training and build some solid muscle. Sometimes bodybuilding is about finding a routine that matches your lifestyle as much as it suits your goals. Massive muscles in 15 minutes a day and less than 20 sets per week who can argue with that?

S Pitman.

Important notes for HIT training:

1. Training intensely under a HIT regime involves slow reps (2 seconds down, 2 seconds up) with perfect form to complete failure. Rest between reps as long as necessary to complete the full set.

2. It is important to note that many people still passionately debate long after Mike Mentzers death the actual number of sets, with many trainers advocating 1-2 lighter warm up sets, to get the ‘mind to muscle’ link working properly, followed by the intense and serious super slow final set.

3. Taking each set to failure is used to describe, taking your last rep to total failure, this means that however hard you push or pull you cannot achieve another repitition. If you are truly going to failure and in the event of certain exericses, like the squat or Bench press, you would need a spotter to prevent the bar crushing you, unless of course you had the use of a power rack. If you want a true ‘total failure’ set, then you would ’strip the bar’. This is done as follows; say your heaviest bench press is 100 kilos (40kg on each side + 20kg for the bar) for 10 reps. You would load the bar up with 10kg plates on each side (40kg total). As soon as you cannot squeeze out another rep, you would immediately put the bar in the rack and remove 10kg from each side and lift again to failure. At this point again you would immediately put the bar in the rack and remove 10kg from each side. You would keep doing this until you are just literally able to lift the bar itself. Done properly for something like squats you would probably need crutches to walk out the gym, your legs so exhausted that they’d need at least a full week to recover.

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Dan   |.
If you include warmups, then doesnt this just become almost like a regular quite
intense workout?
If you dont warm up, then this method will only create
injuries as your training to your max weight.

I also think the workout you
did isnt quite HIT as described in the initial part of the article.
Chalum   |.
I use a similar programme to this and have effective results in a short period
of time(3 Weeks), My view is that a training programme can differ from one
person to the next! Some people may find this particular programme does not work
for them.
prakash  - true!!!   |.
this is true!! training programme suppsed to different from person to person!!
Richard   |.
HIT Training creates controversy whenever it is mentioned. The Mike Mentzer
approach has helped literally thousands of natural body builders that are not
genetically gifted achieve worthwhile results without wasteing time with endless
hours of unproductive over training in the gym. Its well worth reading a few of
the Mentzer books that have been published but do so with an open mind because
many of the training processes are completely against the grain of the
traditionalist methods. Believe it or not some of his most productive routines
revolved around only one or two sets of exercises performed with a two week rest
inbetween, his whole training was based around the fact that the body had to
recover fully before it could grow and 24hr to 48hr is simply not enough time
whilst training naturally. The major muscle mags and main stream muscle press
hated Mentzer when he was alive for obvious reasons, but his methods were proven
paradise   |.
I think this way increases the risk or injury, but I'm going to try it. We all
should do warm up sets anyway so it makes no difference to the WARMUP time.
Onlyto the excercise time.

One way I find useful to reduce risk/warmum time
is to go to the gym wrapped up quite warm and gradually take off some of the
clothes as you warm up your muscles.
Rich   |.
I've been using HIT for almost a year to bulk up, and have had much more success
tha with any other type of training. I been doing full-body routines 3 times a
week generally with 8-10 exercises, 1 set of 6-10 with a cadence of 5/5. This
means that warmup sets are not necessary due to the slow speed, by the time it
gets tough, the muscle has already been gradually warmed up for nearly a minute.
I only do a 5 min warmup and down on the cross-trainer. Training with HIT
means you can workout in much less time (provided you push to keep it intense
and keep pushing for that extra rep for 10 seconds or so), and still get great
Asanka   |.
I think Richard hit the namil right on the head. Mentzer actually took a much
more scientific approach to bodybuilding than any other man (expect perhaps
Arthur Jones). Abandoning tradition, Mike focused on finding the EXACT amount
of stimulation required to increase muscle mass and strength. Personally, I
wouldnt recommend anyone do Squats 2 days after deadlifting, especially if the
intervening day had involved weight training, as in the above routine. Better
wait until the body is completely recovered before hitting it again.

Personally I train once every 4 days (roughly), and this allows me to hit
each bodypart with maximum intensity. If im still aching from the day before, no
way can I generate the amount of stimulation required for maximum muscle

i just dont see why people feel they have to train at least 4-5 days
a week? If i could train once a week, and get the same results as someone
training 5 days ...
Rishard   |.
i was 15 when i did what you call HIT, my friend swears by progressive
resistance but quite simply i did not get results anywhere near as good with PR
as i did with HIT; i found that i could increase the weight load far quicker
with HIT and also that it took less of my time. it's because of HIT that i can
get back a 6 pack in three days and have a nice set of triceps in about 4 days.
this also means that HIT is easier for everyone to use because you don't have to
sacrifice huge amounts of time and the pain is only temporary - i once did such
a great set of bench presses that i couldn't lift my arms to eat the roast
dinner my mum made me lol...
Matt   |.
I've been using HIT for nearly 10 years and wouldn't change it for the world.
The high volume stuff never worked for me leading to overtraining, illness and

I have to say some of the stuff about HIT in the article above is
getting a bit dated now, as I'm not sure that full body routines are considered
the norm for HIT trainees these days. Also I agree with what Asanka says, I
don't think doing Squats and Deadlifts so close to each other is a long term
prescription for growth as it is too much and would probably lead to
overtraining in most drug free people within a month or so. Personally, I
wouldn't recommend doing them in the same week! That said, over a short period
it might produce some "shock" gains before the overtraining set

My current routine is deadlifts and crunches at home on a Tuesday or
Wednesday and then on a Saturday or Sunday I got to the gym and do either Chest,
Triceps, Shoulder...
Faheem Wyne   |.
There is no controversy with HIT because it works, no doubt about it. Whenever I
go on a mass cycle I always return to it and in fact use a volume approach to
let my muscles recover.

Also Mentzer achieved a PERFECT score in the Mr.
America competition, something which no-one has ever done. He was one of the men
who brought mass to the fore and scared the living daylights out of fellow
competitors. My favourite story involves him entering Gold's gym eating an
ice-cream cone while everyone in there was in full contest/diet mode and
berating anyone who would try to talk "sense" to him.

My favourite
book by him is his original heavy duty (published in his competive days before
his 1980 Olympia - a very slim volume and out of print now). Also he advocated a
4 up and 4 down cadence and working out no more than 4 days a week because the
body AS A WHOLE needs recovery time.
Karl   |.
i have been training at home for 5 months now and although i can see the
difference in my upper body i want that ripped look ! At the moment i am around
12 stone 6 lbs 6 ft 2 inch but after my pump has gone i lose some of the
definition. i train every other day. 3 sets of 10 bench flat 52 kgs, 3 sets of 8
incline bench, 3 sets of 12 chest flys 13.6 kgs, 4 sets of 12 chest pullovers, 4
sets 10 13.6 bicep curls and finally 3 sets of 10 squats. i don't do any cardio
as i wanted to bulk up initially due to being quite slim. anyone got any advice

Rob   |.
I have used HIT (the pre-exhaust system endorsed by Mentzer at the time) - and
in a similar split many years ago, it worked very well pushing my bodyweight up
to finally over 80-kilo from 78-kilo, which it did in very breif workouts over a
6 week period, however at the 7 week point overtraining ensued. I found HIT
effective as a short-term 'shock' muscle builder, but I found that it did not
build strength comparable to the muscle growth. I now rely on multiple sets and
the only true indicator of resistance exercise intensity - %1RM. Carpe Ferrum.
Ty   |.
There is always contraversy surrounding HIT, I do 3x a week full body and am
currently doing Dr.Dardens BIG routine, put on 5lbs of muscle and lost 1lb of
fat, it does work. Jreps are something worth considering as well and seem to
produce good results. I do 3/3 cadence and no warm up apart from leg press, it
really is not necessary on the slow cadence instead of 1/1 say of a normal rep
and is all about TUT (time under tension) for the muscle, a good guide is 60
secs for the rep. And believe me doing it slower is a lot harder. Go to
Ellington Dardens website it is worth it to find out more. It is progressive
(double progression) ie you start of at 8 reps then when you hit 10 you increase
the weight 5% and so on.
It is brutal if done properly but you can be in and
out of the gym in 20mins. i wouldnt train any other way.
greg   |.
to karl.

i'm a similar position to you (or i was). i'm 6ft-1", but i
weigh just under 14stone. the key is protein brother. you wanna be eating about
180grams a day. anything with a face on and green fruit/veg. so egg whites,
chicken, fish, milk, etc, etc and anything thats green. there is a lot out
there. i also have a large bowl of porridge in the morning. as for drinks, if
you wanna get ripped you need to keep off the beer. it'll f**k you up. they say
that a pint is equlivant to a bag of chips. j j j jesus!
low intensity cardio
is also vital to rip up. i WALK every morning for one hour. 6-7am. its the best
way to lose fat and its the best time too. i did this diet for 12weeks. i train
each muscle group once a week as well. the key to getting big is rest.
diet. 33% rest. 33& workout.

good luck
ML   |.
Guys, as with anything to do with bodybuilding, there seems to be a lot of
conflicting opinions. Whereas we all have individual experiences, I am
interested in hearing from any qualified nutritionists, or bio-mechanists who
can offer a qualified opinion based on scientific/medical fact as to the success
or otherwise of HIT routines.
Gareth   |.
Some interesting comments, Can anyone help?

I'd like to try the routine but
have one little problem, i train at home using free wieghts and a bench (with
tower) and was wondering if anyone knows how i can target my calfs without
owning a calf raising machine?

also, im thinking of using a pre-workout
supplement such as maximuscle's pump-up to get the most out of my workouts and
was wondering if anyone has any sugesstions on any similar pre-workout products?
Im looking for one that gives results but also value for money cos im on quite a
tight budget! I've looked at most of the products available and would appreciate
any feedback on them. cheers to any1 who takes the time to get back to me:)
Ty   |.
Gareth and ml, go to ellington dardens (phd) website if you really need to have
someone with a 'qualification' to tell you and look there or IART. I wouldnt be
too caught up in that and just try it, it works and the results will be almost
instant, if not then try something else.

Calfs are simple get a bit of wood
(2*4) or something similar and do one legged calf raises while holding a couple
of dumbells.

Not too enamered by supplements myself.

As arthur jones said
'doing a split routine makes about as much sense as sleeping with one eye

Happy training
ML   |.
Ty, thanks for the heads-up but the IART.com site is one of the many reasons why
there is so much mis-information out there. Im not really interested in
"Feel Younger, Look Great, Boost Libido" or "New Breakthrough Turns
Skinny Geeks Into Massive Freaks Fast" t(as appearing on IART.com).
due respect to Dr Darden, I am unable to find any information to validate his
credentials. On his site it does not say anything about his PHD, his
qualifications etc. I can buy a PHD for $500, does that quailfy me???. I did
notice Dardens site is geared towards selling his many books. Therefore I
reitereate my previous post. Are there any 'QUALIFIED' persons out there who can
provide an objective view HIT training.
graham ward   |.
mentzer for me was the reason i never gave up weights as i think his system
suits me fine and if you look closely at the last hd workout you will see that
the muscle groups are actually once per week, ie you stimulate biceps with lat
pulls even tho its part of your chest and back workout, same with tricep dips
you are hitting the pecs
Luis L.   |.
Hi,to all of you,mates.Paradise says "I think this way increases the risk of
injury." It's true because it happened to me!I'm nearly 2 months without
training(very frustating)but that's my fault!I should warm up properly,and I
din't!Lower back injury(bad one)from deadlifts.From now on, I'll stick to
light(moderate weights)and high reps(12-15/12-20)for a few months.we must move
to other routines,trying different things,no?Warm up is my first concern,when
dealing with heavy loads.Cheers to everyone!;o)
steve   |.
ARTHUR JONES, the man behind the Nautilus equipment, pioneered HIT & during
the 1960's & 70's instructed many top body builders - Sergio Oliva,Casey
Viator,the Mentzer brothers,Franco Columbo,even big Arnie - in it's principles.
A fascinating read on the subject is THE NEW HIGH INTENSITY TRAINING by
Ellington Darden. The first few reps of a set are considered to be sufficient
warm-up. On a personal level i think doing four 15 min workouts a week goes
against the idea,better to do two 30 mins & have more rest days in between.
aman   |.
wat role does nutirion play in hit? is it really important or something not 2
give 2 much attention to? fair enuf if all u do is eat junk food everyday and u
wont c growth, but even then if u r putting ur muscles under lots of stress they
have no choice but 2 get bigger and stronger, with or without correct nutrition
Afman  - afy   |.
av been doing "progressive HIT training" with much success and it does
work as long as you monitor your gains and keep progressing whether thats by
weight or reps. The true key to this method is REST and your diet obviously,
loads of proteins. Each muscle group would be resting almost two weeks before
getting worked again and i would train only twice a week. I constantly
progressed for 11 months and gained 11kg, some of it fat but christ could you
see the difference! All thanks to my mate "BigKol". Hes found the true
secret to this method!
Afman   |.
Warmups are important, i included 2 "feel" sets before an all out set,
it gets your mind muscle connection ready for the big one!
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