Right after my initial permabulking period ended, I jumped on the bodybuilding train which I previously used to detest. You have to remember that I am a child of the functional training community. I was thought that high reps are for morons, low-life losers and little bitches afraid to push the limits and train like real men.
Somehow I got introduced to Dorian Yates’s HIT training. It was meant to be controversial and the definition of h-a-r-d-c-o-r-e muscle construction. I watched videos of Dorian explaining how muscle training is supposed to be done. I copied the entire leg and back routines from his legendary training video Blood & Guts. I considered myself very lucky for having access to one of those pullover machines in the gym since Dorian’s back program required it.
I even made the lower body routine a little harder by doing front squats for 3 sets of 3 reps prior to the machine exercises. My leg workout was: leg extensions, front squats, leg press, hack squat, leg curls, Romanian deadlifts. All exercises were done in that order. The goal was to pre-exhaust the quadriceps and hamstrings and make them the weak links during the rest of the compound movements.
My training sessions used to include a number of exercises that my wannabe powerlifter self was new to. I thought enormous muscles were just around the corner because my overall work was insane, despite doing only 1-2 working sets.
Every set was done to failure, except exercises with barbells like the decline bench press. I hated every minute of this training. The hardest thing for me was the mental part. When you begin every set knowing that you have to go to absolute muscular failure, it gets hard. To be fair, it’s all in your head. The body can handle the work. It’s not that difficult to reach muscular failure. What’s hard is constantly thinking that you must do it. Let me explain a little more.
When I was dieting this year, I used to say to myself: “This sucks. I hate diets. Can’t wait for it to be over.” By the time the diet was completed, I have already built strong eating habits which I kept for a few weeks after the plan. Surprisingly, I was no longer dealing with the same emotional stress because I had the freedom to “break my diet”. Despite winning my freedom, I was still eating almost the same was as during my diet, but it was way easier because I had the choice not to do so.
It’s the same with HIT training to absolute muscle failure. You may be able to do a set to failure using a relatively calm approach, but knowing in your brain that you must fail every time trashes you.
I trained using the HIT style for almost a year. I was doing most of Dorian’s main routines in which included, of course, all principles of HIT: training to absolute muscle failure; pre-exhaustion; drop sets; forced sets; rest pause. Unfortunately, I didn’t gain much of anything, which is probably not a surprise to many of you. At that time, however, I believed that getting huge was actually possible to achieve naturally. I had absolutely no idea that drugs are such large part of bodybuilding and everybody with respectable muscle is using muscle elixirs. I knew some people in the gym were definitely juicing because they would talk about it, but I hoped that naturals owned higher share of the muscle market. I was wrong.
During my HIT experiment I was feeling all sorts of muscle burning, cramps and overall muscle damage and soreness. People at the gym, who were used to seeing me record my squats and deadlifts, were saying: “What is this permabulker doing again? He crazy.” In my mind, however, I was thinking: “I am doing Dorian’s HIT routine. Get ready to see me swollen, powerful and massive bitches!”
Boom!Another drop set of chest flies.
I don’t believe Dorian’s HIT offers any kind of advantages over standard volume training when it comes to building muscle whether you are natural or enhanced. HIT training is like one of those things that sound amazing on paper, but for some reason do not deliver as expected, despite being extremely hard on the nervous system.
I am always amazed at people who go to bodybuilding seminars, expecting to learn how to build big muscles from the pros. It’s the same scenario over and over: Do rows for the back, bench press for chest, use dumbbells….People only want to talk about politically correct stuff that does not make a huge impact.
Do you think Dorian Yates was Mr. Olympia because he did specific exercises? What about Phil Heath? I heard he switched from barbell rows to dumbbell rows. Maybe that’s his secret to building an Olympia size back? What about that guy who started using the curl machine? Maybe that’s his secret to huge biceps. What about Arnold’s chest? Probably following his exact routine will add slabs of meat to the pectorals? Sure. It’s all recycled and re-branded nonsense.
The truly important things that make bodybuilders look the way they do are: genetics, drugs, diet and finally training.
Do you even realize this? Training, which is the part they talk about the most, is the least important while the drugs, the card they never show to the public, is one of the primary reasons those guys are so big.
Unfortunately, muscle elixirs are even more important than nutrition because a good diet can never produce steroid like results, while drugs can overcome bad diet to a very large extend as far optimal body composition for bodybuilding is concerned. Therefore, I am inclined to believe that professional bodybuilders are not the best advisers, especially when they are being filmed and forced to exercise political correctness.