Is HIT the Best Training Method?

Of all the different training styles, HIT (High Intensity Training) is one of the most physically punishing and least understood. Over the years it’s continued to evolve, going through more changes than the flavor of Mountain Dew. Born in the before time of old school bodybuilding, HIT has inspired bodybuilders to Sandows and was popularized by 6x Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates. Social Media tease Line- High Intensity Training, or HIT, provides a solid foundation for increasing strength and size.


Training with minumum volume and maximum intensity.

HIT training, not to be confused with HIIT training, (HIIT stands for high intensity interval training, and is a system for aerobic activity) is best defined as training with minimum volume, and maximum intensity. Although HIT plays second fiddle in popularity to other types of training, it has a devoted following that includes current bodybuilding professionals such as Mark Dugdale and David Henry.

HIT Training – Where it all began

If you’ve ever performed even a single a rep on a piece of Nautilus equipment, you have a direct connection to the origins of HIT. The design and creation of HIT is attributed to the founder of Nautilus, Arthur Jones.

In the early 70’s Arthur Jones met Casey Viator, a participant in a now infamous study known as the Colorado Experiment. During the experiment, Viator completed a HIT style workout over 28 days, consisting of 12 low volume, high intensity 30 minute workouts.

The results of the study were astounding, to say the least. Viator gained 63 lbs. of muscle and experienced a loss of about 18 lbs. of body fat. Although numerous factors contest the validity of the study, it has secured a permanent residence in the annals of bodybuilding mythology.

More importantly, it helped to sell Nautilus equipment and played a role in disseminating the principles of Jones’ HIT system.

Basic Principles Of HIT:

  • Stimulation of growth is dependent upon intensity
  • A handful of working sets taken to absolute failure
  • Workouts must be kept short
  • Rest adequately between workouts to avoid overtraining
  • Strict attention must be paid to form at all times
  • Going to absolute failure includes methods such as eccentric (negative reps) and pre-exhaust techniques.

“Heavy Duty” Mike Mentzer

Mike Mentzer was another pioneer in laying the foundation for current HIT philosophy. Mentzer first met Casey Viator at the 1971 Mr. America competition where Mentzer placed 10th. It was through Viator that Mentzer was introduced to Arthur Jones and HIT. Over the years, Mentzer made adjustments and experimented with the HIT principles he learned from Jones.

Mentzer went on to develop his own tenets of HIT, publishing a number of influential articles and books including Heavy Duty and Heavy Duty II.

The First Mass Monster

Dorian Yates aka “the shadow” is arguably the greatest and most recognizable vanguard of the HIT movement. A methodical and voracious reader, Yates devoured every book he could get his hands on relating to weight training and physiology before setting foot in the gym.

Out of everything that he read, one of the books that appealed most to Yates was Mike Mentzers Heavy Duty.

Revering the principles taught by Mentzer and Jones, HIT would serve as the light that guided Yates as he descended into the darkest depths of “the dungeon.”

His renown training video Blood and Guts stands as a testament to what can be achieved through HIT. Yates’ counterculture approach to bodybuilding further cemented his legacy as one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time, and helped bring HIT to the mainstream masses.

Yates heavily influenced the current state bodybuilding, using HIT to usher in the era of the mass monster. Dominating the 90’s, Yates competed at over 260 lbs. of unparalleled size, thickness and graininess.

Yates provides the best summation of his HIT philosophy: “One set at extreme intensity does the muscle-building job. It must be stressed that the one final, all-out set I do takes me to the very limit of my capabilities. If you feel you can attempt a second set, then you couldn’t have been pulling out all the stops during the first set. It’s not pretty, but it works.”

From Dogma to Doggcrapp: HIT and David Henry

Doggcrapp training, one of the newest forms of HIT, was created by Dante Trudel. It proselytizes continuous progress, focusing on gains in strength that lead to gains in size. Trudel remains faithful to basic HIT principles, emphasizing low volume, high intensity, and training beyond failure through drop sets and forced reps.

Doggcrapp deviates from the standard HIT created by Jones and Mentzer, however, by encouraging more frequent training sessions.

Recently, Doggcrapp has gained even more attention thanks to disciple David Henry. David Henry utilized Doggcrapp to go from a modest middleweight to a serious contender, placing first at the 2008 Olympia in the 202 and under show.

Where HIT Goes From Here

The gut-wrenching workouts of IFBB pro Mark Dugdale offer a preview of what to expect from future iterations of HIT. Being both a family and a businessman does not leave Dugdale with hours to spend training at the gym.

To maximize training time and effectiveness, Dugdale follows many of the traditional elements of HIT. What’s unique to the way Dugdale trains is that he integrates elements from other HIT styles.

For example, it is not uncommon for Dugdale to end a training session with an exercise borrowed from Doggcrapp called the widowmaker. This brutalizing end to a workout consists of a single exercise performed for 20-30 reps.

When Not To HIT

It’s worth mentioning that although HIT can be one of the most effective ways to build size and strength, it comes with a few caveats. There are certain times that you want to avoid using a HIT approach to working out. While dieting or trying to maintain training intensity with low levels of body fat, HIT can make you more susceptible to getting injured.

Dorian Yates has admitted that he would do things differently in regards to being more careful with the way he trained before a competition, when he was dieting and had less energy.


Glutamine is the most abundant Amino Acid in the body. it is essential to muscle tissue recovery.

The best way to avoid overtraining and injury no matter how you train is through proper rest and recovery. This includes taking Glutamine and fish oil supplements. Glutamine will help to strengthen the immune system and maintain strength from workout to workout. Fish oil is an anti-inflammatory, and helps to lubricate connective tissues around the joint.

HIT’s Future

Although people that use HIT are still in the minority, it continues to permeate multiple aspects of bodybuilding and physique training. Proponents of HIT claim that the reason it doesn’t work for most people is that they don’t commit to it 100%.

HIT provides a solid foundation for anyone looking to take their gains in muscle and strength to new heights.

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