HIT It Hard!

Man doing Rows

HIT It Hard with high-intensity training! You hear a lot about high-intensity training. What is it, and how do you incorporate it into your workouts?

HIT It Hard – Failure

When you train with weights, you want to stimulate the muscle fibers to grow. In order to do that, you should perform your working sets with heavy poundages (heavy for you, that is). Also, your form should be perfect. High-intensity training, or HIT, involves pushing a muscle past the point of normal failure. This will get you a better growth response from the muscle fibers. Here are a few HIT techniques you can try to increase hypertrophy.

Hit It Hard – Supersets

Use two exercises for the same muscle groups, and do a set of each, one after the other. There’s no rest between the two exercises. Or superset two exercises for opposing muscle groups. For example, you can superset flat-bench presses with dumbbell flys for chest. Or, superset flat bench presses with barbell rows for opposing muscle groups. With either version, you increase your training intensity and your results.

Forced Reps

HIT it hard with forced reps! When you can no longer do repetitions in perfect form on an exercise, don’t rack the weight. Your partner can provide just enough assistance to allow you to get one, two, or three more reps. This is called forced reps. He or she can’t help you too much, however. Otherwise your spotter is doing all the work and you’re just resting. Usually, muscle failure indicates the end of your set. However, forced reps can help you go beyond failure and challenge the muscles in a new way to trigger more results.

Hit It Hard – Drop Sets

When you can no longer complete a rep in perfect form, drop sets will help you push past failure. Example: hit failure, rack the weight, reduce or “drop” about 10%, unrack and knock out 2-3 more reps. Do this one more time. Drops are best used on machines but can also be used with free weights. One trick is to lay out three progressively lighter pairs of dumbbells. When you hit failure on the first pair, move on to the second pair for those few extra reps. Hit failure, move on to the third pair. By the way, you rest at the very end, your sets plus the two drops are all one set.

Rest Pause

Here’s an easy way to push past failure. Use a weight that has you hitting failure at 6-8 reps. Rack the weight, count to 10. Unrack it, knock out as many reps as you can. rack it again, count to 10. Unrack it, knock as many reps as you can. This is one set.

Here’s A Sample HIT Routine

The percentages listed refer to percentages of your one-rep-maximum poundages in the various exercises. All sets are done for maximum reps (until positive failure) unless indicated. This example uses supersets and rest pause. Use any two techniques per workout.

Day 1: Chest and triceps    
Bench presses (warmup) 1 x 15  
super set with 3 x 80%  You can drop weight as needed on your 2nd and 3rd working set  
Incline dumbbell presses 3 x 8-10 x 65%  
Incline flyes 1 x 8 x 60%; 2 x 70%, 80%  
Lying extensions 1 x 8 x 50%; 2 x 75%, 80% Rest pause on the last set  
Pushdowns 1 x 8 x 50%  
  1 x 8 x 50%; 2 x 75%, 80%  
Day 2: Back and biceps    
Pullups (warmup) 2 x failure  
Wide-grip pulldowns 1 x 8 x 50%; 2 x 60%, 70% Rest pause on the 2 working sets  
Seated rows 3 x 60%, 70%, 80%  Rest pause on the last set  
Barbell rows 3 x 70%, 80%, 85%  
Incline dumbbell curls superset with 3 x 60%, 70%, 80%  
Barbell curls 3 x 65%, 75%, 85%  
Day 3: Legs and shoulders    
Leg extensions (warmup) 1 x 15  
  1 x 8 x 60%; 2 x 75%, 85%  
Squats 1 x 8 x 60%; 2 x 75%, 80% Rest pause on the last set  
Leg presses 3 x 65%, 75%, 80%  
Dumbbell presses super set with 1 x 8 x 50%; 2 x 60%, 70%  
Upright rows 2 x 70%, 80%  
Lateral raises 2 x 70%, 80% Rest pause on the last set  

Calves & Abs

Train your abdominals and calves every other day with one to three different exercises for one to two sets of 20 to 50 reps each. HIT it hard with rest pause for abs and drop sets for calves.

One last point: Concentration is mandatory when you use HIT. Make sure you focus all of your mental energy on the muscle you’re training.

HIT It Hard Nutrition & Supplements

No doubt training this way takes a lot out of you. Recovery is huge! Make sure you’re eating well-timed, high protein meals. Protein should be at least 1g per lb of bodyweight. Take in plenty of complex carbs so you have sufficient glycogen to train. On a low-carb diet? Then take carbs in in the hours around the workout, and consider a carbohydrate powder for use before, during and after youtube workout. Finally, use a good pre-workout and creatine. 

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