What is HIT Training?
HIT stands for High Intensity Training (not to be confused with HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training). This is a training method which applies to weight lifting. The aim is to build muscle fast in the least amount of time with maximal effort, hence HIT – High Intensity Training. Most HIT programs have very few working sets (one, maybe two sets maximum!) per exercise, sometimes per bodypart!
How does HIT Training Work?
HIT works using the theory that you can build muscle with only one or two working sets as long as it surpasses the workload from your previous workout. It also works by allowing your body parts optimum recovery time between workouts so that they can progress and get bigger. Mike Mentzer, the bodybuilder who made HIT training popular used to train some of his bodyparts once every nine days! Many trainees do not go to these extremes but you get the point. With HIT training less is more.
Is HIT Effective?
This seems to be down to personal preference. There are some that prefer volume training with many more sets per bodypart. Both methods have been proven to be effective depending on the person and what kind of genetics you have. Personally for me, HIT definitely helped me to build muscle fast. I would recommend it for all trainees but especially beginners to intermediates and people who don’t gain muscle easily due to having a fast metabolism.
What Does a Standard HIT Program Consist Of?
There are usually two types of HIT program. One type is the popular 3 or 4 day split where the body is split into parts and you end up training each part directly only once in that week. Then you repeat the cycle from week to week.
I’ve also used a 2 day body part split where you do half of your bodyparts in one day and then the other half on day 2. You can still train 3 or 4 times a week by simply rotating the two days. The theory behind this type of workout is that your body parts get two growth periods in a week rather than one growth period a week. Some may not refer to this type of program as HIT but the principles remain the same (only 1 to 2 working sets per bodypart)
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HIT Training or Volume Training?
This is the million dollar question. If you look in all of the bodybuilding magazines you will see volume training preached all day long and all of the sample programmes found inside these mags will be based around volume training.
However, it mustn’t be forgotten that all of the professional bodybuilders who are recommending these workouts are on steroids which speeds up their recovery and therefore allows them to train more frequently and with more sets. I personally feel it is much smarter and more effective for the average person to use HIT (or at least a toned down version of the pro bodybuilders workouts) because using too much volume can lead to overtraining and stagnation.
Many people (myself included) have even succesfully combined the two theories in their training. There are studies supporting both HIT and Volume. I have seen people achieve results with both types of programs so ultimately it will be your experience that will be the deciding factor as to what works best!
Advocates of HIT
Dorian Yates – Former IFBB Champion
Mike Mentzer – Former IFBB Pro