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The Complete Guide to High Intensity Training (HIT)

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The Complete Guide to High Intensity Training

High Intensity Training

If one of the things stopping you from hitting the gym is that you’re too busy to spend long hours to get the body you want, then you might want to consider high intensity training, or HIT.

HIT is a sort of minimalist training routine and should not be confused with high-intensity interval training (HIIT). You can incorporate HIT into your busy life, and in as little as 2 hours a week in the gym, you can still put on an impressive amount of muscle.

What is High Intensity Training?

High intensity training (HIT) is a training approach created by the eccentric Arthur Jones and popularized by bodybuilders like Mike Mentzer and Dorian Yates. It focuses on training as little as possible but with high intensity.

Doing as little as 20-25 intense minutes per session, 3 sessions per week, and as low as one to two sets per muscle group can get you great results.

HIT for Beginners

Although high intensity training requires very little time, it is not all that easy. This training method focuses on providing more intensity to your sets. It is about doing exercises with perfect form for the purpose of reaching muscle fatigue.

There are a few principles in high-intensity training:

  • Either a full body workout or an upper-body, lower-body split.
  • 1-3 sets for each exercise.
  • 1-3 exercises for each muscle group.
  • Rep range from 5-20 per set.
  • Doing the set until you can’t anymore (muscle fatigue).
  • Shocking the muscle during the set using things like static hold, or a focus on the eccentric (negative) aspect of the movement.

Since you’re doing full body workouts to momentary fatigue, an HIT workout program is done for a maximum of 3x a week.

What is the Difference Between HIT and HIIT?

High Intensity Training (HIT) and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) sound the same, but they are quite different. Both require doing an all-out, high-effort exertion. However, HIT is a muscle-building approach that focuses on executing reps with perfect from until muscle fatigue. HIIT, on the other hand, involves several minutes of explosive exercises that are generally aerobic, followed by a short period of lower-intensity movements.

High Intensity Training the Mike Mentzer Way

In 1978, Mike Mentzer was the first bodybuilder in history to win the Mr. Universe in Acapulco, Mexico with a perfect score. He has one of the most impressive physiques in bodybuilding and is a one of the biggest advocates of high intensity training.

In his book “High Intensity Training the Mike Mentzer Way,” he features his biography and outlines his HIT workout routine and training techniques.

Prior to the 1980 Mr. Olympia contest, Mike Mentzer claims that he had only been training for a total of 2 hours per week.

High Intensity Training Program

A high intensity training program is one that takes into consideration all muscle groups, but that emphasizes small but focused sets.

Upper Body
ExerciseSetsReps
Incline Barbell Bench Press 1 – 312-15, 10-12, 5-8
Pec Deck Machine 1 – 312-15, 10-12, 5-8
Lat-Pull Down 1 – 312-15, 10-12, 5-8
Cable Row’s 1 – 312-15, 10-12, 5-8
Shoulder Press Machine 1 – 312-15, 10-12, 5-9
Lateral Raises 1 – 312-15, 10-12, 5-10
Lower Body
Exercise SetsReps
Barbell Squats 1 – 312-15, 10-12, 5-8
Leg extensions 1 – 312-15, 10-12, 5-8
Lying Leg Curl 1 – 312-15, 10-12, 5-8
Seated Calf Raise 1 – 312-15, 10-12, 5-8
Standing Calf Raise 1 – 312-15, 10-12, 5-9
Arms
ExerciseSetsReps
Barbell curl 1 – 312-15, 10-12, 5-8
Bicep Curl Machine 1 – 312-15, 10-12, 5-8
Close-Grip Barbell Bench Press 1 – 312-15, 10-12, 5-8
Triceps Extension Machine 1 – 312-15, 10-12, 5-8

The weights used should allow for failure within the prescribed rep range (achieve muscle fatigue). If you choose to do one set for each muscle, increase the reps and do until absolute muscle failure. To achieve muscle fatigue within the prescribed range, it is important to include the following ways of shocking the muscle during the set(s):

  • Slow, focused concentric and eccentric movements.
  • Holds on the isometric movement (static holds).

Benefits of High Intensity Training

  • Saves time: Most people have a busy life. So, if you don’t have two hours every day, high-intensity training can be incorporated into a schedule with more ease.
  • Focuses on recovery: By lowering the number of gym sessions every week, HIT workouts allow for adequate recovery.
  • Focused training: To compensate for time spent training, HIT allows focus on quality and perfect technique for each rep that is done.
  • Helps break a plateau: Incorporating intensity can shock your muscles. This prevents stagnation and stimulates muscle growth.
The complete guide to high-intensity training

Is HIT Effective?

High-intensity training can be effective and time-efficient for both beginners and seasoned fitness buffs.

Start with care and learn proper form when integrating principles of HIT into your fitness journey.

Keep in mind that low-volume training is not better than high-volume, and you can even use them interchangeably.

HIT results may vary from person to person. Some people may take several weeks to see changes in strength and muscle tone, and for others, it may take a few months.

Consistency, proper nutrition, recovery, and incorporating proven ways to build lean muscle are essential in achieving and maintaining results. 

Adam Hamadiya is an entrepreneur, professional writer, and SEO expert. He is the co-founder of inspiringclick.com.

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How to Build Lean Muscle: 5 Ways to Get Incredible Results

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Fitness couple touching hands in a gym backround

How to Build Lean Muscle

Do you want to know how to build lean muscle?

It may require hard work, but it doesn’t have to be hard to understand, and if you know what you’re doing, then you can justify putting in the work because you know you’ll get results.

So take it from someone who knows how to build lean muscle; it is as much a process as it is an achievement, but along with the process is your true potential for unbelievable results.

Here are 5 ways to build lean muscle that you won’t hear about anywhere else.

Understand Muscle-Building Exercises

Every single muscle that you have, from your traps to your calves, has an exercise that is the most effective for building muscle.

Walk into the gym and focus your efforts on that exercise before anything else. Reap the benefits of doing what matters when it matters most.

In my opinion, focus is what creates confidence in the gym. lack of confidence is a common reason why most people who start working out end up stopping. However, when you’re focused, you don’t have to worry about anything else other than your workout. The attention to your workout will create your confidence because you can become damn good at working out with that focus.

That focus will teach you how to build lean muscle mass.

Which Exercises are Best for Building Lean Muscle?

Exercises that are the best for building lean muscle are the ones that allow you to lift the most weight, and only after you have finished with these big exercises, should you do other exercises. Know these exercises, and make them the focus of your workout program to build lean muscle.

This isn’t chess; in the gym, you move your king first.

These exercises are more often than not compound movements; requiring the effort of your entire body. For you to begin building lean muscle, you need to lift heavy weights, period.

Lifting heavy does not mean lifting a particular amount of weight; it simply means doing exercises that inherently allow you to lift heavier amounts of weight than other alternative exercises.

The more weight you lift the more testosterone you produce, and testosterone directly increases muscle protein synthesis which in turn increases lean muscle mass. Just don’t skimp out on your form, because it will cost you results and leave you prone to injury.

When you pick a muscle to work out, ask yourself what exercise for that particular muscle will allow you to lift the most weight, and then focus on those ones first.

The Best Muscle-Building Exercise for Each Muscle Group

If you want to know how to build lean muscle, you need to know the exercises that build your muscles most. The following are what I consider to be the king exercise of every muscle group:

  • Chest: Barbel Bench Press – When bench press is done correctly, even the legs help with the movement.
  • Back: Pull-Ups – Your body weight counts as weight too. I live by weighted pull-ups, but you can start off simple and still get amazing results. Pick a number of how many pull-ups you would like to do for your back day and reach it, using assisted machines to help you get stronger until you master it.
  • Shoulders: Barbel Shoulder Press – You can’t lift nearly as heavy when using dumbbells for shoulder pressing, so by default, this is my go-to for shoulders.
  • Biceps: Barbell Curls – To really put on the muscle, you can use the same barbell that you bench press with.
  • Triceps: Close grip bench – Think of them as dips, only you’re lying down and pushing up. Perhaps by mastering the dip, you’ll come to experience how effective this exercise is because the range of motion for dips is similar.
  • Legs: Barbell Squats -In addition to being able to lift heavier weights to alternative exercises, the squat movement is a very effective range of motion. Range of motion and heavy weights are big factors for muscle growth; hence, the reason weighted pull-ups are my go-to for back.

Shock the Muscle

If you have been lifting for a long time, then go beyond conventional sets and reps. Just like everything else that stays the same, they will eventually hold you back.

The reason to workout is for your next workout…

It may sound weird. But think about it for a moment.

If you knew for certain that you wouldn’t get better and stronger working out, what on earth would motivate you to work out?

The reason why you plateau is because you’ve gotten better and stronger… Things have progressively changed until they don’t seem to be changing anymore, and when that happens, you need to change your mentality and break free of conventional sets and reps.

If you want to know how to build lean muscle, then you need to start getting creative with your sets and reps so that you can shock the muscles. Shocking the muscles means that rules are meant to be broken; you have become too strong for the rules. Your plateau is reminding you that the 5, 8, 10, and 15 rep routine you’ve been on is no longer as effective in helping you live up to your strength.

Woman exercising with barbells at the gym

Way’s of Shocking the Muscles

There are countless ways to get creative at the gym. Here are some methods you need to use to shock the muscle:

  • Ramping: Increase the weight after each set in such a way that your reps will naturally decrease.
  • Drop sets: After progressively increasing the weight to get to your last set, drop the weight and continue your set until failure. If you want to get intense about it, progressively drop the weight by 30% after each failure.
  • Pause Sets: AKA mini sets. When you are on the last rep of your heavy set(s), pause for 10-15 seconds and get an additional rep or 2 out. Do that a couple of times to shock your muscles.
  • Static holds: Hold the weight for 10-15+ seconds on the last rep; putting stress on the desired muscle before finishing your set. You see me doing this in my pull-up video. It works great for non-push exercises like lat pull-downs, rows, bicep curls, and lateral raises. The point where you hold is the point where the desired muscle is most activated. That would be:
    • The point where your elbows reach your shoulders for a lateral raise
    • The point when you’ve pulled toward your body for a lat pull-down, row, or pull-up
    • The concentric, eccentric, or isometric position of a bicep curl
concentric, isometric, and eccentric diagram

Source: Fitbliss Fitness

Know How to Build Lean Muscle by Eating

So far, we’ve gone over how to build lean muscle at the gym, but what happens outside the gym is just as important.

The term building lean muscle can be misleading. You build muscle and lean out; you don’t build lean muscle.

Muscle is muscle. You can build muscle without being lean, but the objective of building lean muscle is to lower the fat surrounding your muscle so that you can get that muscular and lean look.

No matter what you do in the gym, if you are not eating in a way that helps lower body fat, then you may build muscle, but won’t have that lean look.

Favor Protein

It’s okay to pick favourites. Just like you should favour exercises, you should favour certain macronutrients for building lean muscle.

Let’s clear the misconception: at the end of the day, the largest factor in determining whether you lose or gain fat, and thereby get lean, is your calorie intake. Your body stores excess calories as fat.

Use a calorie calculator to figure out how many calories are needed for you to lose weight—a caloric deficit—and then make it a point to have as many of those calories come from clean protein sources as you can. Be very mindful that you should also take in calories from carbs and fats.

Protein is most important to build lean muscle mass because by cutting calories to get lean, you risk losing muscle mass. This is because strength tends to decrease as you lose weight. In fact, studies show that if you want to maintain your effective strength performance while on a caloric deficit, you need to increase your protein intake.

Platter of a healthy diet containing fish, cheese, eggs, meat, chicken and dumbbells on a wooden background.

Take the Right Supplements

I say the right ones because you can walk into any supplement store and see thousands of supplements all claiming to work.

But how many scientists are there in the world? These supplements can’t all be shown to work. It’s much easier to know how to build lean muscle mass than it is to know which of the millions of supplements actually work.

But thankfully, some do work without a shadow of a doubt. The following are three healthy supplements that science actually shows are effective for building lean muscle:

  • Creatine: Muscle cells need creatine. Increasing your intramuscular creatine concentrations drastically improves your body’s adaptation to exercise and boosts your power, strength, and fat-free mass—which is mass from everything other than fat, aka lean muscle mass.
  • Whey Protein: Protein is the most important aspect of your cut when building lean muscle mass. Since you have to increase your protein intake when on a cut, using whey protein will greatly help you hit your protein mark.
  • Collagen: Did you know that as your muscles become bigger, your bones adapt to the size of the muscle, further increasing your mass, size, and strength? It’s not just your muscles growing when you work out, it’s your bones. Collagen is the biggest factor in bone mass, and since you lose collagen as you age, the supplement is more important for building lean muscle than most people understand.

So, the next time someone tells you that they’re not fat, they’re just big-boned, give them a little credit because it turns out there’s some truth to that.

Get Good Quality Sleep

You don’t need science to tell you that you function much better when you get a good night’s sleep. But science does have some pretty interesting things to say about sleep and its relationship to hunger, which affects your ability to lose body fat and build lean muscle.

In addition to hindering performance at the gym, a single night of fragmented sleep—resulting in low REM sleep—increases hunger by shifting insulin levels to being lower in the morning and higher in the afternoon.

It seems like we make up for not dreaming by eating the things we probably should have dreamt about. You can see why this might be a problem for your program to build lean mass when you’re on a caloric deficit.

But we’ve got you covered for that too. Now that you know how to build lean muscle, here are 4 ways to increase your quality of sleep.

Just don’t dream about yummy cakes and ice cream for too long; you’ve got a gym session to crush!

Man deadlifting at the gym

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