High Intensity Training. By Paul Kirkham

High intensity training is one approach that athletes can use to help them continue making progress. Brief, high intensity workouts 3 – 4 times per week can be very productive, allowing plenty of time for recovery and therefore time for growth.

For large muscle groups such as back and quads, perform 2 – 3 exercises of 1 – 2 all out intensity sets after 2 – 3 lower intensity warm up sets. Smaller muscle groups, usually only 1 – 2 exercises of 1 – 2 sets all out sets after your warm up. Change the exercises regularly (every 4 – 6 weeks) and incorporate as many high intensity techniques into your program as possible. Lets look at some good HIT's (High Intensity Techniques) for stimulating growth.

Slow Down
Most trainers use a relatively quick lift and lower action. By slowing down the movement, you get a much more severe stimulation and overload of the working muscle. For your all out intensity sets, trying lowering the weight for the count of 6 and lifting for the count of 3. You will find you must reduce the weight to about 80% of your usual poundage or you will not be able to perform enough reps for maximum stimulation – about 8 – 10 to failure is good. Try this next time you are benching – you will need a spotter, and you will be amazed with the pump. A few forced reps at the end of each set will really destroy your muscle – but will stimulate new growth.

Negatives are another excellent HIT that requires a real commitment to pain! They should only be done after you have been training for some time – usually upwards of about 12 months, as they are really brutal. Once again you need a training partner to help raise the weight after you have lowered it. A good example of this technique is barbell preacher curls. Warm up with a couple of sets and then select a weight about 110% of the maximum you can lift for 1 rep. Get your training partner to help lift the weight, then you lower it slowly for a count of 6. Your partner helps lift again then lower slowly, again counting to 6. Try for 6 – 8 reps. You will find by the last few reps you will hardly be able to halt the downward motion at all as your biceps will be totally wasted – this is good! Only do two sets as you can easily overdo it on this one. With imagination you can perform negatives for just about every bodypart.

Strip Sets
Another extremely good HIT is strip sets. Lets look at leg presses for example. After 2 - 3 warm-up sets go to a weight that will allow you to perform about 6 reps only – so pretty heavy. Perform presses to failure. Your training partner then quickly strips about 20% of the weight, you rep out to failure, strip another 20%, and rep out to failure. 2 sets of this and you will probably have trouble getting off the leg press machine and staggering to the change rooms to throw up – but hey your legs will really start growing!

A good variation of strip sets is 'up and down the rack' by working your way up and down in weights using dumbells or barbells. For example, on side lateral dumbell raises, start with a light weight, do eight reps, immediately choose the next weight (maybe 5lbs heavier), 8 more reps, then the next, etc., until you get to a weight where you can barely complete 4 reps and then back down the rack – 2 sets of these will really blast your delts.

Hand Offs
Finally you could try 'handoffs.' For example, on barbell bicep curls, pick a weight that you can do about 8 – 10 reps. Perform 1 rep and then hand off to your training partner who performs 1 rep, and then hands it back. Now immediately perform 2 reps, hand it back, then 3,4 ....up to eight, then back down, 7, 6, 5... down to 1. This is a real killer and if done properly, your biceps will be sore for day – meaning more growth!

There are many other variations of HIT training that can be employed that will continue to stimulate growth, but the above are a great start. Remember, if you are training in this fashion you will need to up your protein intake, 300g spread over 6 meals each day. Use good protein supplements such as MAX'S 100% Whey, MAX'S Shred System or MAX'S Clean Mass. You will also need plenty of rest, 9+ hours per night, and some light aerobic activity 2 – 4 times a week will also keep your metabolism is top gear.

Cycle through these techniques, sticking with each type for about 4 weeks and then move on to another to keep your training fresh – and happy growing!