High Intensity Training Is Not For Natural Bodybuilders

High Intensity training (HIT) has been popularized by Arthur Jones, Mike Mentzer and Dorian Yates. The main idea behind it was that bodybuilders at that time were overtraining by doing endless amounts of sets and repetitions. HIT requires the lifter to reduce the working sets to just one while also increasing the rest between training days. It was not uncommon to rest 10 days before repeating a workout. The belief for that was that proper recovery required  a lot of time. That’s why many natural bodybuilders were mislead into believing that this way of training is good for them. However, it’s not the case.

HIT requires to perform only one working set to complete muscle failure. That’s why this method of training is extremely stressful on the nervous system. If you begin doing an exercises knowing that will end when your body gives up, you will burn out too soon. Of course, this is not the main reason why HIT is an ineffective training method for natural bodybuilders. The main one is that the whole training volume is very low and there is not enough stimulation. When you add the extremely long rest periods it becomes obvious why the so-called HIT Jedis failed to report any growth unless they were heavily enhanced.

The reason behind HIT was somewhat logical because at that time many were using the popular Arnold routines which consist of dozens of sets. The workouts were long and regular people were unable to catch up. However, HIT went too far to the other extreme only to fail for the opposite reasons.

The popular six-times Mr.Olympia Dorian Yates is known for his support of the HIT training protocol. He claimed to be the hardcore kinda of bodybuilder. Regardless of his muscles mass what he thinks is irrelevant when it comes down to natural bodybuilding. Dorian Yates is one of the most hardcore abusers of anabolic steroids, growth hormone and all kinds of muscle elixirs. Despite of his training he was going to grow, and so he did. One of the worst things for a natural bodybuilder is to follow the advise of the IFBB pros. Chances are most IFBB pros don’t even know what they are doing. They know more about chemicals than they know about training. Therefore, what they say is only important for enhanced bodybuilders.

Another big reason why the HIT training method failed was that it relied heavily on machines. Some of the principles were impossible to apply if the lifter was to use free weights. HIT counted mainly on pumping and burning sensations – completely ignoring the fact that the pump alone will make no one grow and the burn can be achieved without even lifting a weight. The belief was that if something was brutally hard it was also effective.

Truth be told HIT was just another spin meant to make money by selling training equipment, personal training services, books and other kinds of merchandise. It was just as ineffective as Arnold’s bullshit volume routines which required the bodybuilder to live in the gym.

To summarize: HIT may look attractive to the eye, it may leave you sore, it may be brutally hard but it will fail. Your CNS will burn out for nothing. Train smarter.


  1. Robert H

    Hi guys,

    The principles of HIT have severed me well as a natural trainee for over 20 years now. With regards to training to failure, its not entirely necessary, but it is desirable, at least now and then as results are proportional to the intensity of effort but forth, as for the CNS, it does not “burn out” lol, its plastic and adapts over time. Indeed HIT proponents mostly advocate using high end machines / equipment, simply because its safer and also so that balance is not an issue and all efforts can be focused on the contraction.
    With regards to HIT “counting mainly on pumping and burning sensations”, that is complete bullshit, the likes of Mike Mentzer, Drew Baye, John Little and others have stated many times that the pump has nothing to do with stimulating growth.


  2. Glen

    HIT works fine for me and it has been for years. I’m still just as big and strong as I’ve always been.

    HIT is sufficient for one to reach and/or maintain their genetic potential. You can’t get past that without steroids. And with that being the case there’s no point in doing more than one set it’s just a waste of time.

  3. Careless Unbeliever

    It works will for muscle maintenance not growing, I tried it as I usually spend weeks without going to the gym and it works.

  4. James

    I have 38 years of doing every workout system out there, for me HIT or any prolonged pushing to failure results in CNS meltdown after 2 weeks, my work around for this is 1 1/2 weeks push push push, then back off upto 2 weeks light weight and very high volume, the 2 together. Somewhere between works well too such as 6×8 with one weight 1 1/2 times a week for one movement only, no failure and add 2-3 reps per session (for me). Keeps logs, run whole training styles, find what works for you, stay natural !

  5. Bill Pruitt

    Yates did not really do true HIT. There were some elements to it. He took from Mentzer and made it his own but did much more volume than what Mentzer espoused. He also did each body part once per week and his form was good but he did it faster than how HIT is done which might be how he injured himself several times.

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