High Intensity Workout and training ideas
Mike Mentzers High Intensity Workout and training ideas
Mentzer’s High Intensity Workout and his training ideas: ALSO KNOW AS HIT (High
Mike Mentzer’s training theory is well described in his book, “High
Intensity Training”, printed in 2003 and very well written by Mike and
John Little. You would be well served to read this book. It really makes you
think. He backs up his training ideas with a lot of medical evidence. The crux
of his workout theory is: train super hard, and briefly–the more advanced you
get the less you train (as you make inroads into your limited recovery
ability)–and then you REST. A minimum 4-6 days and up to 14 days between
workouts to allow maximum recovery. Upward progress is constant as you simply
rest more and train harder, workout by workout.
book Mentzer states: I f you stop making progress stop training for 2 weeks and
resume again. The idea is to recuperate, from intense training and always
return to the gym stronger. A never ending upward spiral of success as long as
you can induce a maximum contraction on the muscle as that is the trigger (and
the only trigger according to Mike) to make the muscle grow, and then REST to
allow that growth to take place. Got it?
It sounds very scientific and and makes sense. The harder you work the more you
rest. Sounds logical. And I can agree on that point but unfortunently not on
The body doesn’t work that way.
Mike gives us tomes of empirical, evidence to back up his claims. Yet I can
tell you from years of experience, that truthfully, the body does not respond
that way to exercise.
Mike is one of my favorite bodybuilders. I have read almost every article and
every book he has written. I have trained using one set only to failure (and
beyond) on 9 exercises for almost a year. Here is what I learned: I got very
strong on those exercises. Very strong. I didn’t grow. I got hurt a lot (and so
did my partner).
Yes the sad fact is I didn’t get any bigger and weighed the same. Yes I could
leg curl nearly 60lbs more than the year before, but I was no bigger. Zip.
I got hurt. A lot. High intensity as described by Mike is very dangerous.
Pushing yourself super hard is bad for you. I don’t care how much you rest
between training sessions.
How bad is bad? Let me tell you: I was doing negative only training and tore my
shoulder out of the socket. I was leg pressing and was pushing so hard with so
much weight I broke bones in my ankle. I puked quite often during my training
and I blacked out once during a set. I trained very hard. We would tie our
hands to the lat pull (on every set so you couldn’t lose your grip and quit)
with 6 foot boxing straps and pulled till our arms nearly popped out of the
sockets! And finally during one set of mega squats I ruptured my stomach wall
and had to visit the hospital for an operation. And this is not the entire list
The fact is as you become advanced (strong) you can push yourself beyond your
limits very easily. You can and will, injure yourself. Pushing yourself too
hard, too often, is not good for you.
THE SET THING.
The moment I returned to multiple sets training (which I did to see what might
happen) with less intensity (let’s call it normal intensity or hard work) I
grew. I’ll never forget it. The evidence was irrefutable. One set to failure
may make you stronger, but it does not build a physique, and it’s dangerous.
And resting weeks between workouts is no way to become strong and fit. Though I
have to admit I never have tried taking weeks off between workouts unless I was
very hurt or sick.
Yes, I was stronger from the one set stuff as I stated earlier, (I gained what
I usually gain in strength training) and using that strength in multiple set
training was a plus, but NOT TILL I RETURNED to MULTIPLE NORMAL SETS without
training ot all out failure–did I start to hypertrophy again. Maybe it’s the
blood flow. Maybe it’s the high and low reps, maybe it’s the frequency, maybe
the cenetral nervous system recovers better when you are not training to
failure all the time–maybe it’s all of it! All I can tell you is –it works.
It’s possible, in fact very easy, to get hurt doing things like negatives and
forced reps and rest pause techniques,especially if you train like that ALL the
time (instead of very infrequently using high intensity, as I suggest—week 3
of your monthly cycle during phase 3 of your yearly training–maxing only once
a year.) Mike has the athlete maxing out all the time and beyond! It’s not good
for you unless your joints and tendons are made of steel.
The body isn’t meant to do “forced reps”, or all negative reps with a
weight you can’t normally lift (there is a reason you can’t lift it–it’s too
heavy!). It damages your tendons, it puts you at risk. And if you do it for
several high intensity workouts in a row, maxing out at every workout on every
exercise–YOU WILL BECOME INJURED.
Mike says you won’t get hurt. You just need to rest more. I don’t care how much
REST you take. 4 days, 14 days (even worse) walk in that gym and start maxing
out every workout and you’re finished. In no time you will be injured. I would
bet money on it. Then you can really rest as you wait to grow new tendons.
Let’s just say that you didn’t get hurt? Would it work? Nope. 2 reasons: One:
You need more frequent exercise to get into good shape for one thing. Once a
week training (for 12 minutes to an hour) or less is not enough time, training
wise, to produce a fit healthy muscular body. I will admit one hour of training
a week can have marvelous benefits and it works to build size, however to
become Mr. America it is not enough training.You need weights at least twice a
week (training hard and progressively) and more to really progress, and you
need to do some sort of aerobics and ab work. The second thing is you can’t
kill yourself year round in the gym.It just doesn’t work. Your central nervous
system and glands are overloaded from constant high stress. You must work hard
enough to improve, and progression means adding small amounts of wieght to the
bar on a consistent basis. You don’t have to train to failure to get stronger
or 2 one or two more reps each week. You have to work hard, or at least exert
yourself, but you don’t have to kill yourself to make progress.
Training to failure each time you lift is like running a sprint 100% till you
drop each time you run. It’s not practical or needed to improve. Training with
all out intensity all the time can be very detrimental. You overload your body
(and mind) and you can’t recover any more, growth stops and you will probably
shrink, you “go stale” as it were. The body has a defense mechanism
that after a few weeks of high stress, kicks in and basically shuts itself
down. I have seen it over and over in my own life and in other trainers.
Classic signs of being stale beside being weak are: You can’t sleep, feel
nervous, no appetite, tired, and usually you may get a cold or flu as well.
It’s your bodies way of slowing you down one way or another.
Athletes that go to the Olympics to run for example, don’t run fast all year
round. They build up to it. They peak themselves. They train and run a little
faster each month and then at the Olympics they give 100%. Then back off and do
it again next year, with a new training cycle It’s the best way to prepare to
be your best. No one runs the 4 minute mile every day. You build up to it, do
it, then back off. To run a 4 minute mile every day would be impossible, even
if you rested 2 weeks between runs you would still find yourself slowing down.
The body can only run at maximum for a short time then it needs down time to
attempt that pace again. You can’t stay at a peak. It’s very difficult and
prone to injury (after all, now you are at your physical limits) as you ride
the razors edge.
Mike’s theory is based on hard work and then rest. This is the basic idea
behind conventional training as well, however you max out very infrequently (
using conventional training ) and the work is carried out over a year’s time.
Mike completely discounts periodization and that is the major flaw in his
training theory (besides way too much rest between training sessions). You
simply can’t kill yourself all the time in the gym. The nervous system and
endocrine systems can only take a few weeks of this, at best, and then you go
VERY VERY STALE. So even if your elbows and shoulders don’t get ripped from
doing negative benches your nervous system will overload very quickly from
constant high intensity training.
Remember I am not knocking Mike Mentzer. Mike was a great guy. His books are
very informative and influenced me to train both harder and for less time. I
just can’t get behind the entire High Intensity Training (HIT) training
program. For me, and others, it was a dead end.