Why Volume Will Forever Be Superior to High-intensity Training (for naturals and non-naturals)

| by Truth Seeker |

Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels

Volume training is a far super approach to high-intensity training. It produces faster results, reduces the chances of injuries, and spares your central nervous system.

Here’s why.

1. The Tonnage of HIT Workouts is Too Small

The classic high-intensity method (HIT) calls for one working set to ultimate failure after a few warm-ups.

The work set can be extended beyond failure with drop sets, negatives, or assistance from a training partner.

This technique can cause a great deal of pain and suffering but does not trigger as much growth as one may think because the overall workload/lifting tonnage is too small.

What is lifting tonnage?

It’s the total amount of lifted weight. If you perform 3 sets of 10 with 100lbs, the tonnage from that lift amounts to 30×100=3000lbs/1363.5kg.

The tonnage of a HIT workout is significantly smaller than that of a standard volume approach.

For example, if you do 1 set of 12 lat pulldowns with 170lbs to absolute failure as required by HIT, your tonnage would be 12×170 = 2040lbs.

Meanwhile, if you drop the load to 150lbs and go for 3 sets of 12 without reaching failure, the tonnage goes to 36×150=5400lbs (2x+).

Contrary to popular belief, the second case would trigger more growth because the engaged muscles are doing more work. The fact that the high-intensity method brings the muscle to failure and “beyond” cannot compensate for the lighter workload.

Consequently, volume training allows you to go further without reaching failure.

2. HIT Training Is Infrequent and Causes Harmful De-adaptation

The high-intensity approach calls for fewer training sessions. Many of its proponents train a body part once a week and sometimes even once every 10 days.

This is an inferior approach because the extra muscle protein synthesis triggered by a workout drops to baseline levels in a few days. Or in simpler words – the muscle is no longer in “build mode”.

In addition, the gap between the workouts is long enough to cause de-adaptation (the training effect from the previous workouts is slowly but surely going away).

Soreness proves this perfectly. If you train a body part infrequently, you’re sore after every workout precisely because the trained body part has been in a state of rest for too long.

The soreness that you get is an indication of that. Conversely, if you train more frequently, you experience less soreness because the muscle does not have time to enter the de-adaptation phase.

Yet the HIT professors convince themselves that they need extra time to recover precisely because of the insane soreness that they’re getting. That’s flawed thinking.

Another downside of this tactic is that the body does not have a chance to improve its recovery abilities. As a result, the work capacity of the lifter suffers.

Frequent volume training does the exact opposite – it increases your recovering abilities and prepares the body for more work. You become better at doing more. And that’s a good thing because sooner or later you will reach a plateau. To overcome it, you will have to do more work rather than less. Preparing your body for that moment helps.

The defenders of HIT will quickly say that volume causes regression by imposing a high demand on the lifter. That’s true. If your volume is too high, you can burn out. But when a routine is properly calibrated, that shouldn’t happen.

Ideally, you want to be hitting a muscle as soon as it’s ready to handle more – not 5 days later.

3. High-intensity Training is Harder on The Mind Than It is On the Muscle

The fact that high-intensity practitioners are vomiting at the end of a set or a workout does not mean that they’ve worked their muscles harder than the volume guys.

A lot of the stress behind that outcome comes from the drained adrenal glands and the persistent overclocking of the CNS needed to bring every movement to total exhaustion rather than from the damage inflicted on the musculature.

This is also the reason why HIT practitioners insist on extended rest periods – it’s not for the muscle but for the mind.

Contrariwise, conservative volume training spares the nervous system because the degree of overclocking is lower. Of course, there’s still CNS stress, but it’s substantially smaller than that caused by training to absolute failure.

4. HIT = Short Time Under Tension

Consider the following situation:

Person A decides to train his lats HIT style and does one set of chin-ups to total failure. Then, his training partner grabs his glutes and pushes him up to help him get a few extra “money reps”. The total volume amounts to 10 regular reps (the last one a little shaky) + 4 assisted reps = 14 repetitions.

Person B also maxes out at 10 chin-ups in a row but takes the volume approach and does 4 sets of 6 reps or 24 total repetitions without reaching failure or using assistance.

In the second case, the lifter is subjecting the lats to a greater time under tension which in return digs deeper into the muscle than a single set. The more frequent workouts that come with volume training make that discrepancy even greater.

If person A does chin-ups once a week, that’s a weekly chin-up volume of 14 reps.

If person B does chin-ups three times a week for the same number of reps and sets each workout, the weekly volume raises to 3×24=72reps.

72>14…last time I checked.

5. HIT Glorifies Relative Tension…When Absolute Tension is What Matters

A lot of HIT training is based on relative tension a.k.a. how hard something feels. That’s wrong and can actually hinder your progress.

For instance, if you anchor an easy elastic band and begin doing super slow triceps extensions with it, you will quickly experience a burning sensation, and at one point, the movement will become very difficult.

However, since the band offers little overall resistance, you would be stimulating less growth than what you perceive because the absolute tension generated by the muscle would be on the low side despite the excruciating feelings that you may be experiencing.


Mike Mentzer created HIT to battle the ludicrous volume routines promoted by Arnold and his friends. What do you have to say about that?

High volume routines could destroy you when you’re not careful and follow templates designed for professionals. However, Mentzer took everything to the other extreme – from too much work to too little work. Moreover, he built most of his sick physique using volume programs. HIT became a part of his lifting philosophy later in life.

Dorian Yates recommends HIT, and he is one of the greatest!? HIT has to be the ultimate way to train!?

Bodybuilders are attributing too much of their musculature to unique training methodologies.

There is no evidence suggesting that Yates’ “grainy look” is precisely the result of HIT training. More than likely, Yates would have been just as impressive without HIT.

And since we’re talking about IFBB pros, we can’t forget Jay Cutler who built his body with the volume approach. Don’t you think that he would’ve done HIT had he seen some merit in it?

Isn’t training intensity important?

It is of utmost importance but only from the perspective of your one-rep max/total ability.

Volume training will not trigger growth unless the lifted weight is above 70% of your 1RM. In other words, if your projected one repetition maximum on an exercise is around 100kg, doing sets with 40kg will only build endurance. However, once you go above 70% or 70kg in this case, you would be triggering strength and growth adaptations.

The idea of “junk volume” comes from the same notion. Doing sets with a weight that’s too light is considered pointless precisely because the total tension produced by the muscle is too little in relation to its full potential.

Benching 40kg for 20 reps won’t drive adaption when you can do 80kg for 8. Hence that volume is considered junk because it only clogs your CNS with extra stress and keeps you in the gym longer.

Are you familiar with Mark Chaillet? He was a champion powerlifter who did 1 set of 1 rep on the bench, squat and deadlift. Nothing else!? And yet he was huge and super strong. How?

Yes, I’ve read some of Marty Gallagher’s articles on him. Chaillet is a rare specimen. Very few can progress on such low volume. But Chaillet’s training template has nothing to do with the bodybuilding HIT version. He trained with progressively increasing intensity (peaking) but never to failure.

It’s fascinating to read similar stories, but the reality of the situation for most naturals is different.

When you face a plateau, you will have to work harder and do more rather than less in order to reach further. And the only way to accomplish that is to accumulate more volume at a worthwhile intensity.

Training like Chaillet won’t do it, especially if you’re natural. The muscle needs more “voluminization” to grow.

As a natural, you cannot effectively stimulate growth with just 1 work rep even if your life depended on it.

Summary and some extra points

  1. Volume allows you to train more frequently and drives quicker adaptation.
  2. Volume at a worthwhile intensity is the only way to break through a plateau.
  3. Volume creates greater capillary density and increases your work capacity.
  4. Volume spares your CNS because you’re not training to total failure.
  5. Volume is harder on the muscle than the mind.
  6. HIT is too focused on feelings.
  7. HIT trains the pattern of going to failure.

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  1. Zagor

    Some people can get away doing low volume. Those are the guys with the most type 2b muscle fiber, they don’t need much work for max gains. The guys you see in the 100m dash olympic final lineup, or professional football player with insane verticals. For the rest of us, volume is king. Of course, if intensity is sufficient. And as for the frequency, as often as you can recover from.

    1. Goldust

      “It shows high intensity is superior”

      No, actually it doesn’t. Or at least not like you think.

      In the link that you provided the “intensity” participants performed 4 sets of 3-5 reps with 90% of their one rep max with 3 minutes rest between sets. The “volume” participants performed 4 sets of 10-12 reps with 70% of their one rep max with 1 minute rest between sets. Both groups trained 4x per week.

      What the “intensity” people did here is not the same as the H.I.T. training that was advocated by Arthur Jones and his followers which is what he’s talking about in the above article.

      There’s a huge difference between doing 4 sets of 3-5 reps 4x a week vs. one set to absolute failure, once every 7-10 days which is the approach which is being criticized here.

      1. Jack

        In that paper, it shows higher intensity gives faster gains. About 2 times faster. That must mean a lot.

        Who overheadpresses their bodyweight will have very developed shoulders. Who can do 15 chin ups with good form will have very developed lats. Do you know who can bench press 1.6 times their bodyweight and have small chest?

        Once you hit these targets, you are gonna grow. Low number of sets and high intensity workouts are easier to recover from.

        Do you think a guy who can overhead press his own body weight cant do very high volume workout with 60% his weight? Trust me, he can do many sets and reps forever. Once you are strong, you can ace the volume part too. If you are weak, no amount of volume will save you.

        1. Goldust

          The post above is specifically referring to Arthur Jones style H.I.T. training and therefore the paper that you linked is completely irrelevant to the article. The “volume vs. intensity” comparison from the paper is a totally different argument since the “intensity” that they used is nothing like the Arthur Jones H.I.T. routines.

      2. Sam

        I think this discussion is about a high volume STYLE versus a high intensity STYLE of training and is separate from the Arthur Jones way of training. In any case, this is how I approach this discussion.

        1. Goldust

          Volume vs, intensity (as most people define intensity) is a completely different discussion than volume vs. intensity with “intensity” being defined as Arthur Jones style H.I.T. training. The point is that the post above is specifically referring to “intensity” as being the questionable Jones H.I.T. approach.

  2. Brett

    Good article truthseeker,

    However, I only train legs once a week directly. I do 5×5 bulgarian split squats and 1×10 for a warm up. I follow up wih 3×10 thigh curls.

    My legs are never sore.

    Upper body I train alot though. I do over 80 pull-ups a week for example and my lats and elbows are fine. Not all done in one session though.

    1. stay gold

      i doubt they will get sore by 5 sets in a week…

  3. LouisXIV

    There is a tight middle ground where volume works great but any additional volume does little more than drain you. This ground lies well North of what most HIT cults portray.

    Chaillet’s approach is a bit of an outlier, if talking about hypertrophy, and confiscated by HIT campers to make an inappropriate analogy. Chaillet lifted progressively heavier singles, on a two-day per week split routine—working to that day’s top single—on each of the 3 lifts. (Supplemental hooey was not performed!) Yes, he was massive (brilliantly set-up genetically, to acquire and display mass) but his goal was simply to lift more weight than the other guy—for 1 rep at competition. One could argue his application was perfectly designed for that specificity, even as it was uncommon in his sport. But as a general approach to acquire muscle, this would not work well for most, including those with good genetics.

    Mentzer’s goal was bodybuilding victory. While he competed, his volume was not that low (and was traditional, at his start). I saw him train in a NYC gym, when he was competing towards the end, and he did multiple cycles of pre-exhaust work, forced reps too. Hard work. His cumulative volume, while significantly lower than those of his peers, was adequate. But I don’t believe that even he—a genetic freak—could have stood on a pro stage, had he done what he later preached.

    A perfectly useful default is the age-old 3 days per week, 3 sets per body part, 8-15 reps, at reasonably high intensity of effort but not maximal every set. Something like the recommended routines, in recent articles.

    1. Sam

      “A perfectly useful default is the age-old 3 days per week, 3 sets per body part, 8-15 reps, at reasonably high intensity of effort but not maximal every set.”

      3x Full Body or 3 day Split?

    2. Truth Seeker Post author

      Thank you for the long comment and the great insight. It feels good to learn from someone who’s experienced bodybuilding from the front row.

  4. LouisXIV

    Hi, Sam,

    3 x per week—for those body parts you wish to prioritize. (It can’t be all of them, equally, once past beginner stage.)

    Truth has covered this programming nicely, in recent pieces, while also exploding the worst of the myths. If those articles speak to your priorities, they are a good place to look. Why something is a priority, is up to individual preferences.

    The classic 3x Full Body is much harder to sustain (after one is an experienced trainee), especially if using barbells for the lower body work.

    At my age, but with a home gym, I do 4 days, with 1 hard day for Legs only. Any hard work hitting my Legs/Hips/Low Back compromises anything that follows, save for auxiliary work. But many younger here might be able to tolerate full-body better than I can. For a while. Worked for me too, as a young man. Only for a while.

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      Well, if you want to get quicker gains, you will have to up the volume.

      Otherwise, simple routines are very good for maintenance and getting most of the natty gains. After a while, it makes a lot of sense to do less because you’ve reached the point of diminishing returns.

      1. lemmings

        Fair enough. It seems to me that volume routines are like sprinting towards your genetic potential, whereas simpler routines are like jogging there. Sure, one may get you there quicker, but both will get you there in the end.

          1. Louis

            Good points, guys.

            In my experience, each of these very different articles (experiential points of view) holds a portion of the programming truth.

            All that matters is what something does for you, or does not do. Being able—accurately—to assess the utility of a program, is not easy due to observer bias, incorporating prior to cult-like status—especially if impelled by some respected relative authority. The “truth” does become hard to see. If one thinks HIT *must* work, one might continue—regardless of what is actually happening. Same with high volumes. Same with load-based programs, mentioned here. (And dietary changes only confound things.) The biggest struggle lies in fair assessment.

            Here’s the thing. If your extra volume does not produce a noticeable difference (beyond some temporary edema that gets mitigated with a short layoff), then you can happily declare victory and do less work (like Truth’s older article seems to suggest). That’s why that notion is liberating.

            My case (and empirically observed through many acquaintances) going back decades, reveals a significant difference between 1 set and 3 sets per bodypart—assuming muscle display matters. But no difference if doing any more than that—having tried everything up to 15-20 sets per bodypart (which just exhausted me). I detect a frequency difference between training 2 days per week vs. 1 day. But not much between 2 and 3 days—after the initial months—though, depending on bodypart.

            So, the sweet spot, in my experience, seems to be about 3 sets done 2-3 times per week, using 8-15 reps, and not a great many movements, but including select isolation movements. That is, programming that goes back to the 1950s. Why might such programming still work? Because we are still Homo, Sapiens, sapiens (outliers notwithstanding). And diminishing returns do hit hard after this point. Boring but true.

            If it were 1 set that accomplished the same thing, I’d happily prefer that. That said, 1 Work Set, however, does more towards my optimal strength than it does for hypertrophy. So if one cared only about function in life (many folks actually do), then they could achieve that with less time and less wear and tear. Psychological preference seems to matter too. If one must live in the gym, for some reason (private to them), one will. The reverse preference is also true.

            When I began training at 20 (back in the Jurassic era) by sheer accident I used programming quite similar to what recent articles have suggested. Worked great. In all my diverse enlightenments that followed, including training under gurus, nothing worked noticeably better, be it HIT or high volume.

            While there are bell curve outliers to everything (many think they are outliers and aren’t), getting to your own truth, is the thing. Takes experiment. That exploration is what I hear when I compare Truth’s older work with his more recent pieces.

  5. simone copetti

    Some studies however say that training to failure is very important for hypertrophy and strength. it makes sense that going to your limits signals your body the need for more ( obviously the risk of injury increase ). maybe the right way is to change proximity to failure and volume according to your energy… Seems like there isn’t a definitive answer

  6. Boro

    I have found out that for me bodyweight style training is best. Every other day 300 pushups 300 squats and about 80 pull ups with situps and back extensions. For cardio walking or stairs climbing. In the past ive done bench 130 kg and it doesnt matter muscle size is the same versus high volume pushups

  7. ESM

    In my 30 years of weight training I have found every word written above to be absolutely false. I did volume just as described in the above article for my first seven years of weight training and at the conclusion of those seven years I looked virtually identical to when I first started because my size pretty much was identical to when I first started. My size went nowhere, my strength gains went nowhere. The only thing I had to show for this wonderful volume training was perpetual aches and pains and soreness and just in general feeling like s*** all the time.

    Then I decided to Simply take the minimal amount of exercises I felt I needed to train my whole body. I pretty much started doing the following:

    Trap Bar Deadlft
    Bench Press
    Calf Raise

    All of the above would be done for simply one or two sets each and very often I would throw in a trap bar shrug after the trap bar deadlift and very often a barbell curl but not always, also done for 1-2 sets.

    I also had no set training frequency. I started off training once every fourth day and as I got stronger eventually trained once a week. After about five years I was Trap bar deadlifting 400 x 14, doing calf raises with 500 x 20. Being drug-free I hardly had a physique that would turn heads but finally I did at least have the look of someone who did in fact train. I actually did start getting some compliments that I looked decent.

    In fact in the case of my calf raise which I just recently took to 600 x 20 I have now gone to training that lift one set every 10th day and I don’t even take that set to failure.

    I have no injuries, all of my joints are fine, I don’t feel perpetually tired, and most importantly I enjoy my training. I find it very fulfilling and satisfying training this way.

    I honestly don’t understand why someone would show up the work 7 days a week if they’re only going to get paid for 3 Days. Same thing with of weight training. Why do so much more when the benefits simply are not going to be there.

    If you’re training naturally, people cannot accept just how little and how infrequently you need to train to achieve your genetic potential for size and strength and maintain it.

    As stated above, I do the trap bar deadlift, the bench press, the pull down, and calf raises. That covers the whole body and very often I might also do a set of shrugs after the deadlift and possibly a set of curls along with some grip work, but that’s it. And perhaps for three or four months every year if I’m feeling burnt out on the deadlift and the bench press I might substitute in the hip belt Squat and the military press. But that’s pretty much it for variety.

    Everything is also simply done for one or two sets of the rep range of my choosing. Whereas I might go to failure on the pull down and the curl more often than not I’ll go to within 1 rep of failure in the deadlift and the bench press.

    It is no exaggeration to say that 99.9% of everything written on the internet as it relates to sets, reps, volume, frequency, and expectations of what to expect, as it relates to a drug-free trainee is absolute bullshit.

    Just pick a couple of lifts to work the whole body, maybe one or two exercises that you just happen to like, work as hard as you can on those exercises for one or two sets for the rep range of your choosing and do so once every 5 to 7 days for a couple of years and with that simple approach to weight training you’ll achieve whatever potential you have. You really don’t need to know much of anything else.

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      I don’t think we’re talking about the same volume versions. I am by no means recommending crazy volume routines.

      I will probably have to clarify further.

    2. JIM

      I have to agree 100% with this.
      My physique looks a lot better doing one rep heavies/partials than it ever did 3-4x week higher volume.

      It’s all good writing these articles…but is this your opinion T.S or actually backed with science?

      Any how..Maybe we have to admit. As Natties it all works and all doesn’t. We can only put so much muscle on and any method will get you there? Diet and lifestyle is more important.
      But i do think training more than once a week (especially as you get older and reach your limit) is far too much and a waste of time
      As long as you can deadlift say 2X+ B.W and shoulder press say 80% of B.W. for a few reps your physique will be about where it can get to?? Everything else just adds more for the sake of it

      T.S. CAN you change the Captcha setting here? I wrote some long posts but typed in the wrong Captcha and lost it all…VERY ANNOYING.

  8. human

    according to dr berg hiit is good for the heart (light)
    and thank for the great articles

  9. Jimbo Ice

    There are so many fallacies in this thing that I wouldn’t even know where to start.

    First off, let just direct people to Chris Beardsly on medium. Here’s a guy who has dedicated countless hours reviewing the science and research of strength training. He’s about the most unbiased writer on physical fitness I’ve come across. And while he certainly doesn’t toe any HIT party lines, he does tend to agree that the research by and large supports briefer, more intense and more infrequent workouts for most people. There are plenty of caveats and other variables to think about, but, again, his conclusions more closely align to the HIT model than with any other well-known modality. https://medium.com/@SandCResearch

    Personally, having been lifting since high school, receiving strength and conditioning coaching as a college wrestling, and trying just about every fitness method under the sun since that time, there’s simply no way around the fact that there is diminishing returns when it comes to volume. First of all, there’s a basic limit to what natties can accomplish with strength training, anyway. And even those who respond well are not going to grow forever. At a certain point you’re putting more time into the gym for less and less results. I do agree that many HIT routines are a bit too brief and infrequent, but there’s really no need to do more than 2-3 sets to failure two times per week per body part. Any supposed extra growth from more “tonnage” is going to be insubstantial past a certain point that most people are going to hit pretty early in their training.

    And if we want to be fairly strong and muscular people into old age, there’s simply no safer way to train than with as little volume as possible. The question most people ask is “how much exercise can I handle” when the real question should be “how little exercise do I need to get the results I’m capable of getting.” And while everybody’s different, most people train way more often and for longer periods of time than what is necessary, and than what they get in return for that investment.

    1. TheFinisher

      HIT died out for a reason. If it actually worked we’d all be doing it, but instead bodybuilders, powerlifters, athletes etc all use higher volume training.

      Where are all the big HITters? Where are all the Stuart Mcrobert followers who got big with his garbage low volume routines? Mentzer, Arthur Jones, Mcrobert, all con men with an agenda. Then when their routines don’t work the trainee blames himself for being a ‘Hardgainer’ or having ‘bad genetics’. It’s complete bullshit.

      1. Sam

        Haha, there he is. The man (?) whi only reads what he wants to read and believes in his own dogma.

        1. TheFinisher

          Ah, another skinny Hardgainer who has no rebuttal. The truth hurts huh. Come back when you weigh more than 170lbs and have arms bigger than 15 inches.

          1. Sam

            Don’t you have a YouTube channel or something of an Instagram? I (and I think others with me) are very curious about what you have achieved other than boastfulness.

      2. Iron Berserk

        Captain Manntastic aka Old Skool BodyBuilding Routines. Nice of you to drop in.

        1. Iron Berserk

          Hey Sam,
          The Finisher has nothing to show. He’s been called out from a few people here. He refuses to reveal his “gains”. It’s best to ignore him.

      3. JIM

        You see posts like this and want to give up on the Net.

        Why so hard lined?

        Anyhow not interested…

        170lbs+ = man..WTF is this B*S*?

      4. Sirloin

        I wouldnt say HIT is dead, but having spent over 23 years training in high intensity style i largely agree. Its biggest promoters are / where sells men first and foremost, several have hired drugged up pro bodybuilders to promote their equipment and / or their “revolutionary” training methods.
        After becoming a multimillionaire from creating and selling expensive machines, Arthur Jones concluded by saying all you really need is squats, chins and dips, i disagree with that statement but its interesting him going on yhe record to make such a comment AFTER he made millions selling expensive Nautilus and Medx equipment.

        These days i no longer train to failure and avoid grinders, training to all out failure and then salting in set extenders was too much of a good thing. My workouts are still intense, fairly brief, but more frequent, the result in altering the variables has been and increase in size and strength, but also better mental health, better mobility, rarely get DOMS etc.

        Good training to all

    2. JIM

      Yeah well put.
      I have done high volume shoulder presses for a change a few years ago and my shoulders hurt.
      So i dropped to partials/holds and very low reps…No pain.
      As i got older (wiser) I started to think “what can i do to maintain my superb physique (:-) ) instead of how can spend more time lifting?

      You are better of doing the bear minimum that gives 90%+ results than devoting a life to lifting. 30 min’s a week doing heavy low reps works for me

      If someone new came in and said I hate lifting but i want a good physique to last a life time i would say:
      Get upto 2 sets 5 on these
      Dead lifts 2x+ B.W (2.5 maximum then stop)
      Shoulder press 75%+ If you can get upto 90%+ great…but not always possible
      Bicep curls 40-50kg

      Once a week..Presto, done. Never think about it anymore get on with your life.

      1. Jimbo Ice

        Yeah, I do three sets to failure of a press, three sets of pullups and three sets of squats/deadlift 1x/week. Been doing so for about 5 years now. I’m still getting stronger (slowly, of course). I’ve certainly seen no adverse reactions to such low volume. And whatever minimal progress I would make (if any) from more volume is not worth the extra time investment to me. I bench more than 300 lbs at a weight of 185 (I am 5’7″ with short limbs). Most natties are not going to get much beyond that level of strength, so I’m pretty satisfied.

  10. Matt Hawkins

    Mentzer’s actual routine. Notice his volume per body part is high.

    Workout 1 (Monday)

    Leg extensions 1 x 6-8
    Leg presses 1 x 6-8
    Squats 1 x 6-8
    Leg curls 2 x 6-8
    Calf raises 2 x 6-8
    Toe presses 1 x 6-8

    Dumbbell flyes or pec deck 1-2 x 6-8
    Incline presses 1-2 x 6-8
    Dips 2 x 6-8

    Pushdowns 1 x 6-8
    Dips 1 x 6-8
    Lying triceps extensions 2 x 6-8

    Workout 2 (Wednesday)

    Nautilus pullovers 2 x 6-8
    Close-grip pulldowns 2 x 6-8
    Bent-over barbell rows 2 x 6-8

    Universal machine shrugs 2 x 6-8
    Upright rows 2 x 6-8

    Nautilus laterals 2 x 6-8
    Nautilus presses 2 x 6-8
    Rear-delt rows 2 x 6-8

    Standing barbell curls 1 x 6-8
    Concentration curls 2 x 6-8

    ‘Was there anything else you did differently with this routine?’ I asked eagerly.

    ‘Yes, I used this type of routine throughout my professional bodybuilding career, but the greatest gains I got from it was when, rather than following it on the usual four-out-of-seven-day schedule, I began spacing it so I trained every other day on a split routine.

    ‘For instance, rather than train Monday and Tuesday on a split routine, working half the body on Monday and the other half on Tuesday’I would do the first half of the body on Monday, skip Tuesday to recuperate and then train on Wednesday, rest on Thursday and repeat the cycle again, starting on Friday. That was the most result-producing routine that I ever used.’ I asked Mike why he thought that such a split routine was more productive than the three-days-per-week whole-body program that had carried him through to victory in the Mr. America contest.

    1. JIM

      Why does no one mention PED’s here? I guess anything works if your body loves PED’s?

      PED’s 99%
      Workout 1%

      I look better than Arinie now for sure…so be careful which path you choose in life.

      The lean fit look beats big and bulky anyway.

    2. OSB

      Pathetic. No wonder you’re small.

  11. JIM

    Deadlift 2X B.W
    Shoulder press 75% B.W
    Bicep curl 40-50kg

    2 sets five once a week….90%+ be where you can get.

    Get a life .
    Lean and fit beats big and bulky.

    1. TheFinisher

      Calling my post ‘BS’ and you post garbage like this. ‘Lean and fit beats big and bulky’ Because you couldn’t achieve ‘big’. Is it any wonder with that nonsense routine.

      1. Sam

        Boy o boy, what do you have a lot to learn.
        Communication, manners, respecting the views of others, not just believing in your own dogma, being open to other opinions, gaining experiences, etc, etc.

      2. Jim

        Define BIG…without getting FAT for a nattie over 40 is not going to happen. Train for 5+ years you are done….whether you do once a week or 5 times a week.


        1. TheFinisher

          You know nothing, stop posting nonsense.

          ‘Snowflake’ how ironic, when you train like one.

    2. Brett

      Hey JIM,

      I’m not in the finishers camp (completely) however that routine you posted of just deadlift, shoulder press and bicep curl is a incomplete program for lifters who want to maximize their hypertrophy potential for triceps (especially long head), lats, chest and quads.

      Deadlifts is not a optimal quad builder (sumo is probably the best style for quads) and military press leaves the pecs underdeveloped for hypertrophy.

      If you going to train then you may as well include something for each muscle group (in my opinion).

      Also take into accout that some people actually like training. I enjoy spending 1 hour training at home 3 days a week. I like the endorphines and the pump.

      Also just because I train with more exercises doesn’t mean I don’t have a life.

      If I spend 4 hours a week training (and enjoy it) and you only spend 2 hours (lets say) a week then how can you say that I don’t have a life when there are 12 hours in a day so I still have 10 more hours to do whatever else I want to do. So you have 2-3 more hours than me overall in the week?

      1. JIM

        Triceps…Oh…my shoulders,back, legs, biceps,chest seem to be doing pretty well.

        Rack pull 240kg (stopped here..not intererested in going higher. I am sure i could)
        Shoulder Max 80kg Partial
        Partial bench 170kg. Tried 180kg last week but couldn’t do it…
        I have done a 178kg D.L max.. (three years ago not tried since)
        Bicep curl about 50kg.
        Squat about 130kg but not done squats for a while now…
        Chinups 17 +/- (goal 20)

        Never touched a PED and never will.

        BW 76kg

        I love efficiency…if you can get something with 10% effort then do it and do other things…some love long hours, hard work. If i could only lift once a month I’d do it. I feel nothing for it anymore. Prefer other things

  12. Jimbo Ice

    HIT never died. And there are plenty of “big” guys who do HIT. Google Jay Vincent. Hell, Google “HIT bodybuilders” and see what you get.

    Not that it matters. Those big guys are big because of the drugs they take, not their workout routine.

    HIT has also been used successfully in powerlifting. Google Doug Holland and his gym in Louisiana.

    The only reason why HIT isn’t more popular is because it’s held to higher standards than literally any other training method out there. People will spend years making minimal progress with 5×5 or Crossfit, but I’ve literally seen people quit HIT after less than a month when they didn’t immediatley gain 10lbs of muscle and 30lbs on their benchpress. “This shit doesn’t work, bro” they say, as they go right back to not reaching those goals on whatever dumbshit program they’re following. At worst, sticking with HIT wouldn’t have led to any lesser results, and they would’ve spent a lot less time in the gym doing so.

    1. TheFinisher

      It has died, you mentioned two people. Why did Casry Viator, Sergio Oliva, Danny Padilla, Arrnold etc all try HIT then return to volume? Because it doesn’t work, even for guys on drugs. Before you mention Dorian Yates, he didn’t use standard HIT, he used ramping sets with the last set being ‘all out’. Even Mentzer didn’t use HIT, It is laughable.

      It only takes a month to see results with volume training, Unlike HIT which has the trainee looking the same month after month gaining a pathetic 10lbs a year if they’re lucky.

      This whole spending ‘less time in the gym’ bullshit is exactly how HIT was sold – ‘less is more’ when in reality more work (to a point) produces more results.

      If it was so effective you, me and everyone else who tried HIT would of got big using it, not the case though is it. I’ll await the same excuses that all HITters make “I have average genetics” and “I’m not on steroids” Zzzzz…

      1. Sam

        It’s very simple. Or a high volume with low / moderate intensity or a low / moderate volume with high intensity. One should do what he or she feels comfortable with. The result will be the same.

        1. TheFinisher

          ‘The result will be the same’ No it won’t.

          1. Sam

            Perhaps not in your shortsighted world, but at least in the real grown-up world.

          2. TheFinisher

            Typical HIT nonsense. Comparing volume training to long distance running? lol I’ve heard this bullshit so many times. Failure isn’t required for muscle growth, it’s counter productive – That’s why HITters train once a week, their Nervous system has been over stimulated whilst their muscular system has been undertrained. That is why the gains are so slow.

            I don’t need any ‘tips’, but you obviously need some muscle. Increase your volume and frequency. Cheers.

        2. LouisXIV

          It all works—to varying degrees. What is Volume and what is HIT have definitions that vary, depending upon the one doing the talking. And formal definitions vary in the literature, with one meaning “intensity” of effort (failure) and the other meaning intensity as % of load lifted. Not the same thing.

          I personally knew or communicated with 3 of the 6 guys named in Finisher’s post, all of whom were intimately acquainted with the popular 1-set versions of Nautilus HIT (8-12 sets). One told me it was great for ordinary fitness but that he could never stand on a pro stage doing that. (What they do is often not what they say, in paid articles.) And I had a friend, with whom I once trained, who did stand on pro stages—doing expanded versions of those 1-set routines—but using 20 work sets of 1 hard set each, 3x week. Was his version HIT or Volume? Does it matter? Still, he remains the only pro I knew who trained in that style, though I saw Mentzer do a version of it, as mentioned above; but this was not the training he much later advised.

          Forget the studies (more recent work focuses on moderate volumes). Forget the authorities, the books, or the anecdotes (including mine). Just find the volume and approach that works best—for what you want, best as you can achieve it. And that which keeps you injury-free and is sustainable. Find your truth—the only one that matters. Then let the chips fall…

      2. JIM

        What do you mean it died? Explain this…

        Anyhow..diet beats exercise.

        Diet — Hormones —exercise

  13. Paul Sacramento

    Studies have shown that BOTH methods work.
    One can argue about which is more effective or efficient ( not the same thing).
    IF one prefers short training sessions and like / have the genetics to go to failure, HIT-like training is the way to go.
    IF one doesn’t like / can’t go to failure then volume must be the way to go.

  14. Paul Sacramento

    It’s like rest periods, studies have shown that both long AND short rest period work to build muscle. Rest-pause works just as even 5 min rest periods work.
    It depends on how you use them and how you train them.
    As the ol adage goes, it’s apples and oranges:
    Both are fruits, both has a peel, both grow on trees, both make some good juice, and you don’t have to choose one OR the other.
    That said, depending on the individual, apples may be better than oranges.

  15. Goldust

    You read articles and training routines based on HIT and it makes you really want to buy into it. The idea of training infrequently to failure sounds appealing but personally I’ve NEVER gotten satisfactory results doing it. Maybe it works for somebody, somewhere, but I’d be hard presses to ever do another HIT routine again.

    1. TheFinisher

      ‘Buy into it’ exactly, con men (Mentzer, Mcguff, John Heart etc) made money off lying to people that HIT was ‘the only way to train’ and that volume causes ‘overtraining’. Your lack of results are very common with people who tried HIT, look at the HIT channels on youtube, laughable. HITters bang on about their strength gains but never size gains, because they don’t get any. Stay away from HIT, it is the worst training style for size.

        1. TheFinisher

          Lol WTF, So because my views are similar to his then it must be me? All the comments I post on the net are under the name ‘TheFinisher’. Cheers.

  16. Swabbie

    With HIT you will l only get more pump and sore muscles sores than standard training
    Also chance to injure yourself is higher

    1. Sam

      The pump is mainly due to volume and the chance of injuries is nil with a correct interpretation of High Intensity Style training. Namely until momentary failure and at all times the exercise with correct form up to and including the last rep.

  17. Dude

    The total tonnage theory is utter stupid and was debunked by Arthur jones in his nautilus bulletins more than 50 years ago, Bulletin n1 Chapter 14. reciprocity failure nad bullettin n2 chapter 35. Apparently stupid ideas return over and over again.

    1. TheFinisher

      Doing HIT is a stupid idea.

      1. Sam

        Well you finally give a serious comment so I’m curious what you think is a good idea. And not for the novice athlete with the goal of hypertrophy, because it makes little difference to them. Consistency is than the magic word, but for the advanced athlete who has already gained about 8 kilos of muscle mass in the first few years and would like to add a few kilos more…

      2. Sam

        And then preferably something more specific than ‘High Volume’. Among others: How many sets per muscle group per week, how many reps per set and how much % of 1 rep max. How much rest between sets, rest days, 6 times a week 3 hours at a time, split, fb …?

        1. TheFinisher

          If we are talking about advanced natural bodybuilders then they should be able to handle a lot of volume and a good amount of frequency in general.

          Being more specific, body parts twice per week, around 20 sets each, 1 minute or so rest between sets, around 8-12 reps. Intensity can be around 70%.

          I believe you should do as much volume and frequency as you can recover from, this obviously varies but it sure isn’t 6 sets per body part because ‘I don’t want to overtrain’ bullshit. Work load increases with time, increase volume accordingly.

          Lagging body parts may need higher reps, 15-20 , due to small/short muscle bellies or a lack of FT fibers.

          High volume training needs to be cycled, periods of lower volume and lower frequency will help with continuous gains and avoid burnout.

          1. Sam

            Okay thanks, nice to know your opinion.

          2. jim

            what a crock of B*S*., I hope you are not a P.T or giving advice out?

            What is the point once a nattie has gained his 6kg of muscle…that’s it. Maintain.

            Man….i can’t believe your posts.

          3. TheFinisher

            6KG’s? lol and you call my post ‘BS’ again, when I have detailed how to put on maximum size, not 6KG’s training like a grandpa.

            Keep on crying about ‘PED’s’ and ‘genetics’ , you lazy whiner.

        2. Sirloin

          Hi Sam,

          For myself, to optimise size and strength one should shoot for their maximum recoverable volume. Obviously the MRV will vary from one individual to the next based on many variables.
          Personally my workouts are still sufficiently intense and fairly breif, i no longer train to out all failure, or employ set extenders like i did in my “pure HIT” days as it impeded recovery.
          These days i mostly train 3 days per week, (some weeks more, some weeks less) with a focus on hex bar deadlifts or isometric deadlift one workout, swiss bar or one arm DB overhead presses the next and loaded carries the next.
          Ill also salt in supine MAR bar pulldowns or cable rows, triceps pushdowns or extensions, DB curls, grip work, glute and ham raises, hip belt calf raises etc, one or two main working sets just shy of positive or static failure and i avoiding grinders on dynamic exercises.
          I no longer bench, push up or dip due to a shoulder impingement, though my pecs seem to get enough indirect work.

          How about youself?


          1. Sam

            Hi Silion, thanks for your extensive response.

            You ask what my experience and method is. I built up my muscle mass in the 80s with the then conventional training method. 3 day split, quite a lot of sets per muscle group and +/- 10 reps per set.

            With the current knowledge I think that with less sets and high intensity per set I would have achieved the same result faster.

            If asked for my advice on routine (and this happens quite regularly) I recommend a split routine with 5-7 work sets for small muscle groups and 7-9 work sets for large muscle groups, 6-10 reps, 2-3 minutes rest between sets. Absolutely no longer than 50-60 minutes per workout. Rest for recovery is almost even more important than the workout itself imo.

            I have tried everything in the past 40 years to gain (natural) muscle mass, but after gaining 10-15 kg for the first 4-5 years, this was my maximum genetic potential and I am now training for maintenance, mobility and longevity.

          2. Sam

            Sirloin…sorry Rob!

  18. Sirloin

    Hi Sam,

    Thars good advice, and it gives the individual plenty of room for movement as they progress.

    For myself, as ive become much stronger i cant tolerate the volume i once did, after a certain point. i feel like am just spinning my wheels, so i terminate the workout. Some days i can tolerate a little more the others, some days less….such is life.
    Am 42 and still feel ive a bit for in the tank, but i must say as im getting older longevity, mobility and good mental health (ive bipolar) are higher up the priority ladder lol.

    Good training mate

  19. JIM

    10-15kg of muscle gained naturally…..? Seems high.

    so you are saying a non weight lifter can have 10-15kg less muscle than a lifter? I do not see it.

    Even a man that lifts no weights has a certain amount of muscle mass. I do not think lifting makes that much difference. Hence why idiots hit the P.E.D.’s

    1. Sam

      10 kg for just below average genetic predisposition is doable with proper training, nutrition and rest if consistent. 15 kg for the average and 20 kg for the genetic lucky bird. At least that is what I have experience in the past 40 years. Then I assume a fanatic athlete who goes for it 100%.

      1. Sam

        The Finisher has a point when it comes to the genetically gifted imo. They can train well with high volume, precisely because their recovery capacity is very good. The genetically less fortunate aka ‘hardgainer’ is – imo – better off with less volume and higher intensity and above all a lot of rest for recovery, after all the muscles grow during rest and not during the workout.

  20. John South

    Volume is relative.

    If you have been training 1-3 months, there is no reason to do more than 1 set because that 1 set will stimulate growth…for a while. There’s really no reason to stop doing 1 set if you are still adding weight or reps with perfect form.

    Steve Reeve’s first program was a full body, 3 days per week, 1 set only for each exercise, then after 3 months he went to 3 sets and by six months he was at 6 sets.

    After 6-10 months, you’re probably looking at some type of upper lower split so you can do more volume, because you’re no longer a beginner.

    It’s very simple and that also solves all those silly arguments about full body vs splits. Full body is for beginner-intermediate and splits are for intermediate to advanced.

    The idea that an advanced lifter is going to do 1 set to failure and continue to gain forever is silly but there’s no reason for a rank beginner to start with 3 sets if one will do. A beginner could even do 1 set 5 days a week.

    Don’t be in a hurry to add sets before it is needed because eventually you will not be able to recover without “supplements”.

    It’s probably fine to do HIT with drop sets, rest/pause, etc to get through a plateau if you’ve gotten into really high volume training and intensity suffered or you are burned out. That’s a good time to reset things.

    Knowing why things are done makes all the difference.

  21. MB

    There’s something I don’t understand:
    If you do High volume with a given load and you keep increasing sets and reps, then your training will take more and more time to finish.
    At a certain point you can’t continue this way…
    Or am I missing something?

    1. Sam

      @MB. I think you miss the passage in the chapter stating that you (imo of course) increase the weight when you think it necessary.

  22. MB

    Did the fitness industry, adverts, social media and movies made people obssesed with building the perfect body – which seem to be more muscular every year – …. ?
    What is the perfect body anyway?

  23. Nade

    For all the psuedo science that is peddled on the Joe rogan podcast the one thing that resonated with me was the video where he talked to a MMA trainer and fighter as to what was more important, Volume or Intensity to which the reply was though simple, was very profound.
    It was along the lines that :-
    The more volume and in proportion less intensity training one gets, the better the man can learn to adapt to training and has time to recover in between the training and then when the fight day comes he’d have more stamina and also less injuries or pain against the man who trained for higher intensity while sacrificing volume and frequency.

    Such simple advice is always said to be too easy to work because
    1. It breaks the Status Quo that “The strong will get out of here alive” mentality which is meant more weed out the Above Average from the masses while leaving the masses down and broken because they couldnt stand upto an imaginary setpoint by someone else(not always bad).
    2. It asks for consistency. Which asks for a competent attention span.

    1. Sam

      The ideas that Firas Zahabi shares in that conversation will be quite positive for a fighter and maybe also for a strength athlete, but you will not build much muscle mass with it.

  24. MB

    There’s not much activity on the website lately…

  25. OSB

    So where are all the big and strong hitters? 50 years of this garbage way of trainjng which is based on a flawed philosophy, not actual science, and not one champion in their field uses it. No big hitters gracing the pages of hit books that get resold over and over again. If something really worked that good as the hitters claim, it wouldn’t need selling especially after 5 decades. Despite their smugness, their boastful claims of fantastic gains by hit and their desperation to be right (they’re not), hitters are the laziest of trainers and don’t have anything to show for it. Hit sucks. Volume rules.

    1. Sam

      Hardly anyone does HIT the way HIT should be done, IMO. Really HIT is way too intense for the average gym visitor.

  26. human crane

    tbh after 1-2 years of volume training you can switch to HIT if you do it smart. Muscle part once a week? During my years of chasing bigger numbers I was training one lift twice a week. I was at peak physical form back then. You can easily hit big lifts twice a week with a 4day program, monday for example is high weight medium volume chest, thursday is very hight weight, low volume chest (other lifts on tuesday and friday). You need a good base for that but its perfectly doable and you can feel like a god of human cranes. I really dont get why HIT is so disliked on this page, maybe because its advertised for beginners while its clearly a training method for more experienced trainees. I guess people mix up HIT training with progressive overload (you need to try to increase the weight and sometimes this can be done only by doing singles or very short series, I dont know many people who managed to went from BP 80kgx10 to 100kgx6 just by upping 80kg to 14 reps in 3 series, you need to try yourself against 100kgx1 and have 90kgx6 done as a base to get there…)

  27. OSB

    Hit doesn’t work. Where are the big hitters?

  28. MB

    I had a full body training program and do 4 or 5 sets for an exercise with 8 reps each.
    I start light and go heavier with the sets.
    During training when I am warmed up, sometimes I just use the same weight for every set.
    A friend who is a coach told me it’s better do something called pyramid down in reps.
    Every set heavier but with less reps like 8 resp – 4 reps – 1 rep and then use your heaviest for as much reps as possible.
    This approach should push yourself to the max and being capable to save energy for your max lift.
    Has anyone heard about this piramid down? Maybe it saves energy but I think it’s strange during warm up decreasing sets and even switch a weight for one rep.
    Even if this is for compound exercises I still think it’s strange.
    What do you think about this training method?

  29. Jim

    Let’s all agree…..it’s best to have a life outside of the gym. Much more important things to do. Lift some weights 1-2x week. Enjoy.

  30. Steve

    High Volume training is vastly inferior to shorter, higher intensity training; this is biological fact, and it bears out in the real world too.
    We are all here because of our ancestor’s ability to shed non-essential muscle and to hold onto fat. Throughout mankind’s struggle for survival, fat was useful as it is freely stored energy that would prevent starvation whereas muscle is biologically expensive because the body expends calories maintaining it, thus it was a threat to survival.
    The human body is a highly adaptive organism, but it does not want to build muscle unless it is absolutely necessary and the body will try to hold onto fat where possible.
    Muscle fibres types fall into three main categories; slow-twitch (Type-I), glycolytic fast-twitch (Type-2x) or oxidative fast-twitch (Type-2a). Type 1 are recruited to lift lighter loads and have a substantial endurance capacity with little capacity for increasing size. Type 2a and 2x fibres (fast twitch) produce the highest levels of force and are recruited only during the heavier sets in weight lifting, they are capable of dramatic growth responses from training with Type 2x having the greatest capacity to produce force and size increases.
    Muscle fibres are recruited in the exact same order; ie. Slow twitch for lighter objects, right through to the 2x for very heavy weight lifting. The number and type of muscle fibres recruited is always determined by the amount of overload used.
    Lifting light loads for a high number of reps only serves to recruit the slow-twitch fibres, no matter how many reps are performed, the adaptive response will not be gains in muscle size, but enhancements to endurance and efficiency which come with little or no increases in muscle mass. The concept of “lifting tonnage” has no basis in human biology; unless you train heavy, you won’t recruit the fast twitch 2x muscle fibres, which are the last to be recruited and most prone to growth.

    This is not to say that 1-rep sets will do it either because the body will look to avoid gaining muscle and for super-low reps (1-3 rep range), the body will adapt by strengthening the tendons and optimising the firing order of the motor units within the muscle; from an evolutionary standpoint, this is biologically cheaper than adding muscle. Reps performed in good form with failure occurring in the 4-6 rep range is optimal because the body’s adaptive response will be an anabolic one which will lead to muscle growth. The aim of any muscle-building workout, is to trigger this response and then get a high-quality protein source into the muscle as quickly as possible.

    For natural lifters trying to gain muscle, there are three main aims:
    1) Maximise the anabolic (muscle building) response in the target muscle groups which means the heaviest weights lifted to failure within the target number of reps
    2) Maximise the anabolic response by feeding the body with high quality protein immediately post workout and at regular intervals thereafter.
    3) Avoid the catabolic (muscle wasting)

    To lift the maximum weight for the target rep-range, a lifter must be reasonably fresh and fully recovered from a previous workout so maximum force can be applied; this is typically 6-7 days after training a muscle group which is why training a muscle group 1 time per week is so effective. If the body is not pushed to its limits, it will have no reason to invoke an adaptive response; ie. muscle growth, so full recovery from workouts is a must, anything less is overtraining (catabolic).

    One of the most catabolic hormones in the body is Cortisol which is released as a stress hormone. It breaks down muscle to produce energy as part of the body’s defence mechanisms. Cortisol levels in the body are 4 times higher 1 hour into a workout as they are at 30 mins or put another way, longer workouts lead to muscle loss and are therefore sub-optimal for muscle gain. Equally, fasting increases Cortisol, so maintaining a positive nitrogen balance is very important to avoid being “catabolic”.

    So, in summary, high volume workouts with lighter weights at a biological level do not stimulate much muscle growth simply because the body can readily adapt to them without much increase to muscle mass, which is biologically preferable. Also, due to their longer duration, high volume workouts are highly catabolic whereas shorter, more intense workouts are highly anabolic with the caveat that those workouts are followed up with immediate nutrition (or they too become catabolic)

    This all bears out in sports; 100m sprinters have more muscle mass and lower bodyfat than 800m runners, who in turn have more muscle mass than marathon runners. This is because the explosive movements in the shorter distances recruit more muscle fibres, which are prone to enlargement, whereas the marathon runners produce a lot of Cortisol.

    Most of the good Natty bodybuilders that get accused of using drugs on here, tend to train with higher intensity and they get results. Also, it is worth pointing out that Dorian adapted HIT because he felt the Arthur Jones version had too little volume, however Dorians workouts seldom lasted more than 40 mins and were extremely effective.

    Training is better than not training, but high intensity is the way to go.

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