Those of you who read my articles know that I'm a big believer in the basics. I confidently preach low volume, infrequent workouts which are based around the universal laws of overload and progression. Anyone who truly understands the fundamentals of strength training realizes that these basic guidelines are all one needs in order to reach their goals of increased muscle mass and strength. I mean seriously, how much more is there to it than that?
Train at a high level of intensity with the minimum amount of stimulation needed to yield an adaptive response, and then give the muscle adequate rest and nutrients. The following week increase the weight or repetitions. Done. Boom. That's it. Okay, okay, maybe it's not THAT simple. But in the grand scheme of it all, that IS the bottom line. You see, many people make strength training out to be much more complex than it really is.
In actuality there really is nothing complicated about the concept of muscle growth. Sorry to burst the bubble of all you muscle mag gurus out there, but the reality is that you do not need "The 6 Week Program to Mind Blowing Chest Gains" or "Ronnie Coleman's Killer Bicep Blaster." If a muscle magazine's goal was to teach you everything you ACTUALLY need to know, no doubt they would be able to cover it in half an issue. Why? Because it's SIMPLE!
As I press on further and farther into my training endeavours I have less and less patience for the utter stupidity that is all-too prevalent in gyms everywhere. Set foot in any gym across North America and I guarantee you will see the same things over, and over again. Buddy #1 is in the corner doing 3 sets of 10 on 4 different bicep exercises. Buddy #2 is putting forth intensity that would make Justin Timberlake look like a Greek God. Buddy #3 is wearing sweatpants to the gym every session to cover up his untrained legs.
Where does it end? Quite obviously the answer is that is does not, and never will. Starting to sound familiar? For those of you who have made the genius choice of reading my articles you will begin to realize that I have said this all before. Well, hear it again, because it will never end. I will continue to pound this information into your skull until it is permanently tattooed in your memory. Then maybe, just MAYBE you will begin to apply this information and make gains like you never thought possible. Anyway, that ends my opening rant. At least I now know that we are on the same page.
Get Big In Only 45 Minutes
What if I told you that you could get bigger and stronger than you've ever been by training twice per week for 45 minutes? Most likely the uninformed sceptics would call me a liar, the multi-setters would stop reading, and the easy-way-out slackers would stare wide eyed with an unjustified gleam of hope that building muscle IS easy after all. Well I'm sorry lazy one, but this seemingly easy way of training is much more difficult than the naked eye could ever fathom.
It is that select, understanding breed who would continue reading and realize that I am promoting the all-too-sensible yet all-too-difficult concept of HIT. Otherwise known as Highly Intensive Training (a name well-earned), HIT is bar-none the most difficult and most effective training program out there. HIT is a broad term and can have many variations, but the basic concepts remain constant.
HIT is based around infrequent workouts done at a high level of intensity, focusing on compound movements and progression. However, the type of training that I am talking about is "traditional" HIT which utilizes full body workouts done twice per week. To understand why HIT is so effective we must first establish that building muscle is a simple concept. I'm not talking about the nitty-gritty, detailed and precise biochemistry behind the processes of protein synthesis, anabolic hormones and muscular hypertrophy. I am simply referring to the basic idea or "bottom line" of muscle growth. Although I realize that I have covered this in a previous article I will refresh your memory anyway. Every single process that occurs within the human body is centered around keeping you alive and healthy.
Throughout thousands of years of evolution the human body has become quite a fine-tuned organism that can adapt well to certain conditions placed upon it. We become uncomfortable when we are hungry or thirsty, we acquire a suntan when high amounts of UV rays are present, we build calluses to protect our skin, etc. So what happens when we break down muscle tissue in the gym? If you answered something to the effect of "the muscles get bigger", then congratulations! You are absolutely correct. By battling against resistance beyond the muscle's present capacity we have posed a potential threat to the musculature.
The body recognizes this and as a natural adaptive response the muscles will hypertrophy (increase in size) to protect the body against this threat. As we systematically increase the resistance the body will adapt accordingly and the muscle tissue will continue to swell. Sound simple? It is. Basically in a nutshell we must focus on training with 100% intensity so that the body truly believes it is in danger, and then gradually increase the workload (in terms of resistance and repetitions, NOT volume) each week. You see, everybody THINKS they train hard. Most people believe that they do go all out and do take every workout to the max.
"IF YOU TRULY TRAIN WITH 100% INTENSITY, IT IS PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO TRAIN WITH HIGH VOLUME OR FOR A LONG PERIOD OF TIME!"
In actuality, few people train as hard as they possibly can. This is the main factor that separates those who make great gains from those who make only modest gains. Let me say this once and hopefully it will sink in: If you truly train with 100% intensity, it is physically impossible to train with high volume or for a long period of time! Read that again. Good. Now apply it. Sit down and really think hard about your training intensity and most likely somewhere in the back of your head you will quietly admit to yourself that you COULD be training harder.
It is absolutely essential to train with every ounce of strength you can muster in order for this program to be effective. If you do not train as hard as physically possible, it will NOT work for you. Many people complain that low volume does not work, but these are simply the people who require more days in the gym because they do not train hard enough. With that in mind, we must understand that the relationship between intensity and duration is inversely proportional. That is, as one's workout intensity increases, the volume must decrease.
Makes sense, right? Think about the last time you did an all out sprint versus the last time you went for a jog. Quite obviously you were able to jog a lot farther then you were able to sprint. Why? Because you simply cannot maintain 100% intensity for long periods of time. We must now take that knowledge and apply it to our workout program. You see, with most things in life the more we put in, the more we get out.
This is not true in the case of bodybuilding. More is NOT better. Nor is less. PRECISE is just right. The goal should be to train with the minimum amount of volume needed to yield an adaptive response. Once we have pushed ourself beyond our present capacity and triggered our thousand year old evolutionary alarm system, we have done our job. Any further stress to the body will simply increase your recovery time, weaken the immune system and send our body into catabolic overdrive.
Sample HIT Routine
That's all there is to it. Do that program once per week with the prescribed sets and repetitions. It may look simple, and it is. But believe me, there is NOTHING easy about it. I invite all of you to take each and every set of that workout to absolute and total muscular failure. Preceding this routine, the cocky, shit-eating grin will have been wiped clean from all of those who claim HIT is easy.
You will probably end up on the floor, gasping for air, or kneeling over a toilet. If you truly train hard, that is ALL you need to effectively stimulate new muscle growth. The anabolic spill over effect from these workouts will be so high that you will be truly glad you have 2-or-3 days recovery between each workout. Keep a record of each session in terms of resistance and repetitions, and focus on slowly building on your previous numbers. If you succeed at this, you will reach your bodybuilding goals faster than you ever thought possible.