Physical Culture

High Intensity

The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know anything.  In terms of fitness and nutrition, I don’t believe anything I can’t lay my hands on.  In other words, if I haven’t tried it and evaluated how it affects my body, I won’t render judgement.

Its for that reason that I tend to jump around from routine to routine, philosophy to philosophy.  I stick with something long enough to appreciate its affect on me, but there’s too much out there for me to settle on one method as “The Way.”

I’ve posted less and less often because the more I learn the less I feel qualified to be passing on knowledge.  I’m still in 100% sponge mode, but I love helping others and when I deem myself worthy, that will be a calling that I will approach with the utmost humility and respect.

My latest endeavor has been High Intensity Training (HIT), as invented (perhaps…do we ever invent things or rediscover them) by Arthur Jones and popularized by Mike Mentzer (pictured) and Dorian Yates.  The concept is relatively simple.  Exercise, when broken down to its simplest level, is simply the interaction between a dose (exercise) and the bodies response (recovery and super-adaption), just like administering a drug.  The strength of the dose dictates the frequency of the medication.  HIT’s goal is to provide such a powerful dose, or “inroad,” with one set, to failure, that the muscle requires no further stimulus to produce the super-adaption we crave.  The less time is spent breaking down the muscle, one would reason, the more time can be spent recovering.  This “super-dose” is accomplished by various means, including a measured cadence for each rep, pre-exhaustion, and techniques to take you past failure such as rest-pause, forced reps, drop sets, etc.

If it were possible to get bigger with one set, why aren’t ALL bodybuilders doing this?

Well…are all people who participate in “bodybuilding” really big?  Its not fair to judge a method only by its most successful proponents is it?  People always want to take up biking because they plan to look like Lance Armstrong, but they conveniently ignore all the still-overweight people they know that bike.  Most people who bodybuild utilize a volume approach, but again, most people you see in the gym give no visual indication that they workout.  Professional Bodybuilders can’t be compared to natural non-professional trainees.  The level of muscle mass they’ve attained, their years of training, and the hormonal milieu caused by steroid use makes them practically a different species when compared to someone like me.  The truth is, the level of recovery exhibited by steroid enhanced trainees is simply not possible for the natural joe.

Am I against volume training?  Absolutely not.  I’ll probably return to it eventually.  But again, I don’t believe anything unless I’ve touched it.  What I try to avoid is casting judgement on a method because it doesn’t jive with what everyone else is saying.  What I’m getting at is this:

  1. Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t mean its right for you
  2. Trial, error, and honest effort is the only way to find out

That being said, I’ve been pleased with the intensity I’ve experienced utilizing a Mike Mentzer style HIT workout and I do feel as if I’m progressing in my training, getting stronger and perhaps larger.  Physique wise, I’m still losing some of the fat I gained while putting on mass, and I’m holding some water, but I’m happy to say I’m retaining the muscle mass too.  Hopefully by November I’ll be looking like leaner than ever, but with more muscle mass than ever.

Without further ado, here’s the program.  All reps are done with a (4141) cadence except where otherwise stated and except where it doesn’t make sense (holding the top position of a curl, for instance).  All exercises are done one set to failure, with a rep range of 6-12.  When I reach 12 reps I increase the weight.  I’m training roughly three times a week…I don’t quite buy in to the extremely long 8-day rest periods between all workouts that Mentzer espoused.

Day 1 – Chest and Back

  • Pec Deck Fly – superset with
  • Incline Smith Machine Bench
  • Machine Pullover – superset with
  • Hammer Pulldown
  • Deadlift (no specific cadence, emphasis on safety/form)

Day 3 – Legs

  • Leg Extension – superset with
  • Barbell Squat (4121 cadence)
  • Leg Press Calf Raise (targeting the gastrocnemius)
  • Seated Calf Raise (targeting the soleus)

Day 5 – Shoulders and Arms

  • Nautilus Lateral Raises
  • Reverse Pec Deck
  • Single Arm Dumbbell Preacher Curls (2 forced reps with the other arm’s assistance)
  • Single Arm Cable pushdown (2 forced reps with the other arm’s assistance)

This description was fairly barebones and there’s more that goes into it.  If you have any questions feel free to pose them as a response below.

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2 thoughts on “High Intensity

    • Chris,

      I’m a big fan of BBS! Reading the book was what clued me in to HIT in the first place, although it has taken me a while to actually give it a try. I haven’t actually given the BBS 1-workout-of-10-minutes a try yet. I may work it in sometime in the future, but right now the Mentzer approach I’ve been using is immensely satisfying! I’m looking for more books on the subject to read.

      Great interviews and great blog! I’ve been a fan of your blog for a while.

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