Anyone who follows HIT (High Intensity Training) knows the basic premise that we work under. Training for strength and mass should be "brief, infrequent and intense." But how do we define infrequent? How often can we work out and still get great gains? The answer lies in how you manipulate your routine so that you can be training very briefly, very intensely but yet still get into the gym 3-4 times a week without overtraining and burning out.
A standard HIT training regimen involves working the entire body over one training session then taking several days off before hitting the entire body again at the next session. A routine might look something shown at right.
Sample HIT Routine
Typically you would perform a routine like this on, say, Monday and then follow it up with the same routine on Thursday. Many trainees have also opted to change to a 2 day split program where by half the body is worked on Monday and then the other half on Thursday. This gives more recuperation time for each muscle group and allows for the elimination of some of the overlap involved with doing the whole body routine. This type of splitting is fine as long as the volume is kept very low, somewhere around 12-15 sets per workout or about 30 sets total for the week. This is definitely enough work IF you are taking each set to failure, a practice that true HIT devotees take very seriously indeed.
With that in mind why is it that most HIT trainees assume that this is the only way to train? What stops them from further dividing their program? After pondering this thought for some time I decided that I had to try it out. In fact the new higher frequency routine was almost a necessity to me because of my schedule. Quite literally it became very difficult to find 45 minutes on any given day that would be un-interrupted and so I had to find a way of incorporating all of my training into a greater number of very brief workouts of 10-15 minutes or less throughout the week.
With the above listed routine in mind I began tearing it down into several workouts of 2-3 exercises each. Since the volume would be very low I decided I could afford to pick all the best exercises and incorporate them all into the schedule while still making sure there was very little overlap between days of training. With that much in mind here's the routine that I began using:
- Barbell Bench Press - Medium Grip
2 sets of 4-6 reps
- Machine Shoulder (Military) Press
1 set of 10 reps
- Standing Low-Pulley Deltoid Raise
1 set of 15 reps
- Close-Grip Barbell Bench Press
2 sets of 6-8 reps
- Triceps Pushdown
1 set of 10 reps
- Barbell Curl
1 set of 10 reps
- Incline Dumbbell Curl
1 set of 6-8 reps
- Cable Crunch
2 sets of 15 reps
That's the entire routine. Each day's training takes no more than 15 minutes IF you are training intensely. I could usually complete my workout in about 10 minutes. With this in mind I can honestly say there is not a single soul out there who can't manage to get the body that they crave.
Obviously even on the most rigid of schedules there is a way to get in some kick ass training and build some solid muscle. Sometimes bodybuilding is about finding a routine that matches your lifestyle as much as it suits your goals. Massive muscles in 15 minutes a day and less than 20 sets per week who can argue with that?