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HIT vs High Volume Training

by J. Milner

HIT, High Intensity Training, was popularized for a short time in the '70's and has returned for the '90's. This is due, at least in part, to the fact that the current MR. Olympia, Dorian Yates, told the world that his success is due to this type of training. High volume training has been the norm, in bodybuilding, for the last 25 years or so. High volume training was the choice of Arnold, who did much to popularized this type of training.

This article will make the argument that there is no difference between the two, in the context that it is most often debated about. Before hard core believers of either of the two types get all excited, please read on. The definitions of HIT, and of high volume training, tend to vary greatly, depending on who you ask.

In fact, taken to their extremes, there is definitely a difference between the two. Taken to either extreme the results you achieve will also differ greatly. The argument that there is no difference between the two can be made, only if a particular result is desired. If HIT is performed using one, and only one, set per body part, (after one warm up set), and the reps are kept around 6, you will be training for maximum strength. Argue all you want but this is not the fastest way to increase muscle size, if that is your goal. On the other hand, volume training, in the classic sense of 5 sets, descending reps (12 to 6), several exercises per body part, body parts broken up over several days, is a good method for muscle growth. This is not the best way to train for strength however. Also, high volume training, to be effective, arguably requires closer attention to diet, rest, and age. Most people do not refer to HIT in the strict sense , or over emphasize high volume. When laying out a plan for muscle growth, using HIT, the method is generally diluted. It will normally include 2 or 3 warm up sets per body part, then maybe do two exercises for most body parts, and go ahead and do 2 max sets instead of one. And hey, maybe it would be a good idea to break up the training over 2 or 3 days. This is not what Arthur Jones had in mind, the man who invented Nautilus, and made the big push to prove HIT (referred to as High-intensity exercise at the time) was superior (granted, his methods were somewhat different than HIT).

The above 'type' of HIT training does work well for developing muscle size. Now, for comparison purposes, lets refer to 'Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding' written by Arnold Schwarzenegger with Bill Dobbins (copyright 1985). Arnold's advanced training methods included many set and reps. These were to be done in a very short period of time, at a very high intensity. In order to do his advanced routines, in the time prescribed, a person must work very intensely. This type of training was also corrupted by many, or not used correctly. Many people would turn this type of training into marathon workouts. Arnold was clear that his methods were not the way to train for maximum strength, that powerlifters trained much differently. When it comes to training for muscle growth, which seems to be where the debate is usually centered, there appears to be very little, if any, real difference between the two. Granted, each person must tailor their training for what suits them best, in an effort to get the greatest gains, whatever their goal may be.

The above examples are generalizations, and may vary from many peoples interpretations. Regardless of how you wish to interpret HIT and volume training, can it not be conceded that the two may have merged into one, in the context of bodybuilding. In conclusion, is it not possible that instead of going from one extreme to the other, a better, 'middle' ground has been discovered. Or perhaps the best type of training simply depends on who's doing it, and what their goals are. If nothing else there is one thing you can always count on, no two people will give you the exact same answer if you ask them what the best way to train is.

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The information presented is intended to be used for educational purposes only. The statements made have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (U.S.). This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any condition or disease. Please consult with your own physician or health care practitioner regarding any suggestions and recommendations made.


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