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The Modern Art Of High Intensity Training


Featuring 40 exercises, 127 workouts and a full 15-week programme, The Modern Art of High Intensity Training offers a visually stunning presentation of all things high intensity. Along with covering the five principles of high intensity training, its eye-catching illustrations convey the strength, power and beauty of the movements.




The modern art of high intensity training


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I'd like to not only tackle these questions once and for all - with a combination of science and experience - but also propose a brand new way to look at training intensity, including the question of training to failure...


Before I introduce my new intensity system ideas to you too, I want to take you on a short trip back in time, because learning a little "high intensity history" will set the stage for appreciating this breakthrough all the more.


Beginning in the 1970s and picking up steam through the bodybuilding boom of the 1980's, other fitness experts, trainers and athletes jumped onto this wagon and declared themselves coaches or practitioners of high intensity training.


Some did it under the Jones - Nautilus brand, while others improvised their own systems and planted their own flags. Either way, most of them called it HIT for short (not to be confused with HIIT, the acronym for high intensity interval training cardio).


One of those independent personalities was Mr. Universe Mike Menzter, who created the "Heavy Duty" training system after being influenced by the theories of Jones. Others followed, and before you knew it, thanks to celebrity pro bodybuilder endorsement, one of the hottest trends in the muscle building field was high intensity training.


Aside from the claims that HIT was a superior method of training, another appeal was made based on efficiency. Because the intensity was so high, proponents explained, you didn't have to do a lot of it.


But the majority of winning bodybuilders did not use HIT. They may have trained to failure sometimes, and most would describe their workouts as "intense" (no one wanted to be considered a sissy), but their programs certainly weren't one maximum set to failure and done. Far more people used and succeeded with conventional (higher volume) training than HIT training.


Recent work has also suggested that you need at least 10 sets per week per muscle group for optimal hypertrophy, and more might be even better for advanced bodybuilders, but we don't know for sure the ideal maximum volume. Furthermore, volume should be periodized, so high volume training all the time may not be ideal either. Here's what we do know: If you want to do low volume, high intensity at times, have at it, but unless you do more at other times, you're leaving results on the table.


For years, advocates of HIT preached that most people are overtraining, doing too many sets, and warned us to avoid the more is better mentality. They said less is better if the intensity is higher. Today nearly every researcher and coach agrees that volume is a major driver of muscle hypertrophy and there's a direct correlation between the two. More is only better to a point, but more is better than one set.


Low volume, high intensity training is not the best way to build the most muscle. It is however, a time-efficient way to build some muscle. There are plenty of people, many because they are busy, who are interested in finding what has often been called, the "minimal effective dose." That's the least you can get away with doing and still get results you find acceptable. By definition, however, this comes with acceptance of achieving less than your best...


But what about the intensity part - training to failure? Has that been settled? Couldn't one set, if it were taken to absolute failure, produce more growth than three sets that don't go to failure? The research doesn't support that idea either.


But training intensity is different - it's a relative thing. Intensity is a scale, not a switch - and there doesn't appear to be a huge difference between leaving a rep or two in the tank and going to failure. (Plus the beneficial effects of submaximal training accumulate after repeated efforts).


Let's review these scientific principles of muscle growth, because If we don't talk about this first, or if your training doesn't even have specificity to hypertrophy, or if the programming is just plain wonky, then talking any more about failure and intensity is moot.


4. Correct effort intensity level. Don't choose a weight you can do for 12 reps and stop at 6 reps, that is, literally, a half-assed effort. If you stop so far short of failure that there isn't even the slightest hint of fatigue or metabolic stress, not much is going to happen. Intensity is absolutely an influence on muscle growth. "High intensity" is important but is ill-defined if you only count a 10 out of 10 exertion level as high. An 8 or 9 exertion level is certainly high intensity training. A 5 out of 10 is not.


2. Recovery. Sleep-deprived? Stressed? Never relax? Mind in turmoil? Going way overboard on frequency and volume? Good luck gaining muscle, even if your intensity is a 10. In fact when under-recovered and stressed, high intensity training makes things worse.


1. Mechanical tension. Your muscles are sensitive to the amount of load placed on them as well as the per set and accumulated volume of the tension produced. When that tension is high enough, that indicates an intensity of effort that can recruit more muscle fibers and trigger growth.


2. Metabolic stress. Lactic acid and other metabolites and fatigue by-products build up in the muscles, especially after doing a set in the moderate or high rep ranges, indicating a high intensity of effort, even when the weight isn't that heavy.


That brings us to the point where we can pull together all these pieces to form a complete picture and come full circle back to the questions about failure training, how hard you should train and how to use high intensity training the intelligent way to increase your muscle gains.


Keep in mind that this new way works, only assuming you are following all the modern best practices for resistance training programming, not something bizarre from the back of an ancient muscle magazine or the minimalist "hacks" of a productivity guru.


When and how often should you use high intensity techniques? Well you could do them all the time, but you'll burnout eventually unless you're a genetic mutant. You could do them at random, but random is rarely optimal (though thoughtful auto-regulation is good). You could use them in a cyclical manner as part of a periodization plan, getting more and more intense as a training cycle progresses. That's also a good idea.


But the ideal way to use high intensity tactics that most people aren't doing yet is to surpass your previous workout performance. You apply these tactics when they help you do more over time. That is using progressive overload - the king of training principles. And you can use it even when you can't increase the weight, which is usually the sole focus of most people's overload goals.


These high intensity techniques include training to failure, and may also include drop sets, rest pause sets, forced reps and any other tactic that helps you move beyond the last workout in some way. You can even use peak contraction and continuous tension or simply improving form as a "high intensity training tactic" because increased repetition quality is arguably an overload method of its own (and a really good one for older lifters with achy joints).


This is the point where you introduce the high intensity tactics, rather than using them all the time. If you were stopping your sets 1 to 3 reps short of failure, this is when you push some of your sets to failure - ideally the last set of every exercise.


You're going to hear a lot more about these high intensity training tactics in the near future, as I'm currently researching and writing my second new ebook of the year, the ULTIMATE high intensity training tactics manual for bodybuilding and physique training.


Beware of pushing yourself too hard too often. If you are short of breath, are in pain or can't work out as long as you'd planned, your exercise intensity is probably higher than your fitness level allows. Back off a bit and build intensity gradually.


If you're not fit or you're just beginning an exercise program, aim for the lower end of your target heart rate zone. Then, gradually build up the intensity. If you're healthy and want to exercise at a vigorous intensity, opt for the higher end of the zone.


Interestingly, research shows that interval training, which includes short bouts (around 15 to 60 seconds) of higher intensity exercise alternated with longer, less strenuous exercise throughout your workout, is well tolerated. It's even safe for those with heart disease and type 2 diabetes. This type of training is also very effective at increasing your cardiovascular fitness and promoting weight loss.


You'll get the most from your workouts if you're exercising at the proper exercise intensity for your health and fitness goals. If you're not feeling any exertion or your heart rate is too low, pick up the pace. If you're worried that you're pushing yourself too hard or your heart rate is too high, back off a bit.


Understanding exercise participation for overweight and obese adults is critical for preventing comorbid conditions. Group-based high-intensity functional training (HIFT) provides time-efficient aerobic and resistance exercise at self-selected intensity levels which can increase adherence; behavioral responses to HIFT are unknown. This study examined effects of HIFT as compared to moderate-intensity aerobic and resistance training (ART) on exercise initiation, enjoyment, adherence, and intentions.


High-intensity training (HIT) provides fitness and health improvements in less time per week than current guidelines [6, 7]. Although the intensity required might be intimidating, the reduced time requirement may be appealing to many adults, showing potential for higher rates of adherence. However, HIT often utilizes aerobic intervals which may not be sufficient; combined aerobic and resistance training among sedentary overweight and obese adults results in greater weight and fat loss and fitness improvements than each modality alone [8]. 041b061a72


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