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Volume or HIT? Yes, I bought it up.

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Seems every personal trainer I meet or listen to online is solidly in the HIT camp. Makes sense. Train a client for 30 minutes and be done with them. There are very few personal trainers that want to be with a client for 90 minutes every day. Not a recipe to make money. This is what bought up this age old topic again. I listened to a successful personal trainer from California on youtube. He made the argument that for the majority of people HIT made the most sense for results. He argued that the genetic drug champs could train with either method and would be successful.

In my teens I was heavily influenced by Arthur Jones and then later by Mike Mentzer. I have been training with either one or two work sets per exercise forever. Not exactly forever but for over 40 years. While I made good gains through the years I often wonder if I would have been better off with volume. Using a few sets doesn't give you the massive pump that volume does. Many HIT advocates will say a pump has nothing to do with building muscle but I believe they are wrong.

If high intensity was the magic bullet we would all be training with sets of single reps because that's the most intensity anyone can generate. I believe the muscles gained through lifting is  mainly the result of improving muscular endurance. Not to be confused with aerobic endurance even though that is a component of it.  Which would improve your chest and triceps better?  One set of full range dips with 25lbs plate to exhaustion once a week or doing dips for 5 sets of bodyweight three times a week? 

Some of the draw backs of HIT is exhaustion both physically and mentally.  It really can destroy you if you are truly dedicated to the cause. Only so many times can you bang your head into a wall and say you enjoy training.  Bill Pearl spoke extensively about this. He was fond of saying do not do a set to failure. Complete every rep even if you have to lower the weight. He said training longevity is important and if you have to take days off constantly due to exhaustion where is the longevity? Lee Haney famously said, "Stimulate don't annihilate."

I read an excellent article by a guy who trained with Danny Padilla. He was bitten by the HIT protocol. He wrote Danny generally did 5 sets of 12 with the same weight. The first couple of sets were no where near failure. Set four it was difficult to get 12. The last set would be failure. Failure could hit 8 rep or say 10. When it hit around 12 the weight would raised. Sometimes just completing the five sets at a faster pace was an increase of intensity.

Am I saying HIT has no value? No, I trained that way for many decades. I feel it has kept me looking young and no I don't have a circus mirror.  ;D  It has kept me in shape and strong too with a decent natural physique. Not as good as my youth but aging happens to us all.  One of the major draw backs I feel are the injuries. You can't grind away for decades with what is heavy weights for your structure without damage. My forearms are slightly curved from years of lifting. Two physical therapists pointed that out to me.

Every time I try volume it feels like I'm wasting time because I'm not turning blue trying to get that last rep in.  I know one draw back from volume is that you will lose strength.  I remember when I used volume as a 19 year old experimenting with it that all my one rep singles showed a drastic downfall. However my muscular endurance was up. I know now if I trained with a guy who did four or five sets per exercise I probably would be sucking air because I'm not use to training that way.

Any thoughts on this with being argumentative?  ;D

Most people who say they train using HIT don't really do HIT.  What they do is a set until positive failure (concentric reps).  But going to concentric failure is not HIT.

Mentzer did the REAL HIT.  Going to concentric failure and beyond.  Going beyond failure is HIT.  Way beyond.

What is REAL HIT for example with chest?  First you warm up and this may take a few sets to get to your work weight.  Mentzer did warmup sets.  Warmup sets don't count as work sets for HIT.

1) First you pre-exhaust doing a set of db flyes or pec dec to (concentric) positive failure. The flyes don't involve the triceps as much as pressing.  Better yet, use one of the original Nautilus machines, the one with the pec dec and vertical bench press combined so you can go right from one exercise to the next easily.  That's what the Nautilus machines were designed to do but hardly anyone ever used them this way.

2) Immediately with no rest you do bench presses to (concentric) positive failure, then you do assisted forced reps (need a spotter) to failure, then more negative reps (spotter needed) to complete failure...complete, utter, paralysis!

That's HIT. 

Now, how many people want to do that all the time?  Plus you need a spotter to assist you.  Are you going to do two sets like that?  No way!

Did I mention you need a spotter to do HIT?  You need a spotter to assist you with forced and negative reps.  No spotter?  You can't do HIT.

Imagine a personal trainer having their chubby housewife client do that?  She'd never come back.

So, if you think you are training HIT by doing one or two sets to concentric failure you're not.  But there's nothing wrong with doing 1 or 2 hard sets to concentric failure.

I've been doing 2 sets of 8-12 reps lately and I like it.  The first set I'll do 12 and the next set I'll rep out to near concentric failure or actual concentric failure.  Same weight both sets.  I keep a log of my poundages and if I get 12 reps all sets I add weight.  I can do more exercises using only 2 sets and it keeps the volume in check. 

So, what's better, HIT or volume?  No clue.

I trained with pre exhaust for about 15 years. The concept was not created by Arthur Jones but was created by Robert Kennedy in article he published before Jones grabbed the concept. Most of  his machines were not manufactured to use pre exhaust.

There is no definition of HIT. The general accepted position is one or two work sets after warm up to failure. Every one tries to come up with their own version of what HIT means. If you follow the disciples of Darden there are many variations of what HIT means to them. For some it's 4 exercises don every 5 days. Again it's generally one or two sets to failure. Yes, positive failure or like you to say concentric failure. I feel smarter already saying concentric failure.

 Almost all trainers hit failure it's just a matter of how many sets it takes to get there. For volume trainers it might take 4 or 5 sets to get to that positive rep failure set. If you truly take one set to failure it means there is no way you can get the same amount of reps in your second set. That is high intensity training. No, forced reps is not a concept Mentzer always used. 

David Young who trained many times in the gym with both Mentzer and Viator said they used a lot more sets than they wrote about. He counted 15 sets with Viator and many sets for Mentzer.

Sad that I'm the only person to reply to your thread.

I disagree with you on many points but that is why we discuss these things.

Yes, there are many interpretations of HIT.  Of course there are.  But they are not correct.

If your definition is correct then I myself used HIT today when I trained.  I did not.

However, that is not the subject of your post which is what works best, HIT or Volume?

Some of the old timers in the 40s used a lot of volume in their workouts.  The workouts took them 2-3 hours.  Reg Park did upwards of 90 sets!

Clancy Ross also did marathon sessions pre-contest to get definition.

Most of the high volume routines in the mags are pre-contest so they are very high volume.  What they do off contest is less, if they even train at all.

When I first started working out consistently in college I used the supplied original Universal Machine.  Had no instruction so I went through the stations doing a number of sets, adding weight each time, doing as many reps as possible each set. Usually 3-4 sets per exercise, 3 times a week.  I made good gains. 

If you do 2 sets per exercise, the last set to positive failure, that is not so intense that you only workout once a week.  They say drug users can only work a bodypart once a week because they are in a constant anabolic state due to the drugs.  Not so with nattys.

So, take that into account.

I looked at your leg workout on 7/12 and you did 13 sets of upper legs.  That's more volume than I do although i train 3 times a week.  Total sets per week for me is 12-18 sets which is 4-6 sets per workout. 

One thing we didn't establish is "how do we measure success" of volume or HIT?

Strength?  Easily measured.
Size of muscles?  Easily measured.
Looks?  Not so easily measured...subjective.

What is success? 


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