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High Intensity Training 101

Updated on January 16, 2015

Introduction to High Intensity Training

I came across High Intensity training a couple of years ago at Since then it has changed my life and how I view exercise and health. High intensity training is rather simple (but not easy) to perform. It has been around for some time as well dating back to the 1970s and possibly even before. Mike Mentzer and Arthur Jones are often credited as the first pioneers of High Intensity training.

There are other pioneers and trainers in High intensity training as well, such as Drew Baye and Keith Norris. The basics of High Intensity training is to keep it safe, brief but intense. Training with high intensity is a lot more efficient and effective way to work out. Anyone can do it and it can even help with sports conditioning as well.

High Intensity Training is a method of attaining health results in a quicker more efficient and effective manner. It is practical for most if not everyone, of any age, health and disability. Your results will depend on your body and health status though but you can get great results if you go about it the correct way.

Check more information on HIT, functional and congruent exercise at this hubpage article I wrote:

Also check out this squidoo for HIT when applied to chronic health conditions:

How to do high intensity training

High Intensity training is in a lot of ways a lot more simpler then conventional strength training with volume. You want to use the best equipment you can find, which I will cover more in depth later, but it will help strength and work your muscles more efficiently.

I still tend to do the big five workout with an isolation exercise after it. The big five workout is a high intensity training routine detailed in the Body By Science and uses 5 exercises/machines that work the major muscle groups of the body. I use isolation exercises as well to work out different isolated muscles that may have not been fatigued or pushed enough.

An important part of high intensity training and that of any weight training is to keep a record of your workouts. This can be as simple as writing down reps/time and type of exercise/machine. I also vary up the order (and keep track of it) of the workout so that different muscles are worked at different times during every workout. I always do isolation exercises after compound exercises (such as the big five) as well. There is only about 5-6 different isolation exercises which I rotate through every week, so for my typical workout I will do about 6 exercises every time.

Most people use reps to keep track of exercise progress but I use a stopwatch which is how they do it in body by science, you can do either it doesn't matter much as long as it is being tracked. I use a weight for the machines which is about 80-90 percent of maximum weight, and which I can do for about one minute until positive failure. The goal is to push the each exercise to positive failure, and when reaching the failure point breath quickly in and out of your mouth. Once you cannot push anymore hold it in that position for at least ten seconds before slowly releasing the exercise. Exercises should be done slowly but not too slowly so for each repetition it should take about 6-10 seconds so 3-5 seconds on the positive and negative portion of the rep.

As you improve the reps/time of the exercise will go up with a certain weight and then it is time to experiment with increasing the weight used. It will take some experimentation but typically people need to only exercise once a week, some may work out more frequently and some less frequently it just depends on how fast/slow you recover.

I prefer to use machines when possible, and if not free weights and then I will do body weight exercises. Machines, especially nautilus machines are designed to exercise your muscles way more efficiently then free weights.

Exercise congruently

This is a book on how to exercise congruently and will help in your High Intensity Training education. This is written by Bill De Simone who is a personal trainer and after tearing his bicep muscle decided to look into how to train properly in a safe efficient manner in congruence with your body's muscles, joints and skeletal system.

Congruent Exercise: How To Make Weight Training Easier On Your Joints
Congruent Exercise: How To Make Weight Training Easier On Your Joints

If you want to know more about the mechanics behind safe weight training this is the book to get


Equipment used for High Intensity Training

Choosing the right equipment for high intensity training is important. There are a lot of different manufacturers of equipment and not all of them are created equally. Arthur Jones developed the Nautilus line of equipment over several years, studying anatomy and physiology as well as testing them before putting them on the market. Modern nautilus equipment (especially those for cardio), aren't always as good as older nautilus machines.

Good quality nautilus machines are relatively easy to find and are my top choice (unless you can find an Arx Fit Omni), most gyms have at least a few Nautilus machines to choose from. They are more efficient and effective then using free weights for a couple of reasons. Machines keep resistance throughout the movement or exercise which isn't always true for using free weights due to physics and gravity.

Since Arthur Jones sold his company Nautilus before he passed away his more modern machines aren't always as good as his older models. Nautilus machines you will find in a lot of gyms are the best option you can typically find out there though.

If you are able to buy one or go to a facility that uses one I would highly recommend an Arx Fit Omni, more information can be found here: Like the nautilus these have been tested and engineered over a few years by a High Intensity trainer. They are rare to find and can be very costly, but if you are able to purchase or use one I would highly recommend it. I believe Arx Fit Omni's can even keep track of workouts over time and apply resistance appropriate to each individual and overcome some of nautilus short comings.

If you are unable to find nautilus equipment you can often find Medex or hammer strength machines. Medex and hammer strength have been developed either by Arthur Jones himself, his sons or those that work with him. Medex are even used in a lot of rehabilitation centers and are sometimes only found in smaller gyms with more specialized equipment. Hammer strength is a popular brand of weight machines that you will find in many commercial gyms and from my experience one of the most common brands out there besides Nautilus.

If you don't have access to machines or prefer to workout at home you can use free weights and in rare circumstances even body weight exercises. I would highly recommend using machines though as they are more efficient, effective and safer then body weight and free weights.

I would recommend when first starting out in High Intensity Training to find local gyms, look around and find what machines gyms have. I would even go through gyms, and write down or take some notes on what they have. If you are able try to find a trainer or gym that specializes in high intensity training to help you advance quicker and help get better results.

How do you exercise?

See results

Basics of H.I.T.

Simply put:

Make it brief, safe and intense otherwise it is not H.I.T. and isn't worth your time.

High Intensity Training is weight training and shouldn't be confused with high intensity cardio training or any other type of training

Resources and help with High Intensity Training

While I haven't always had a trainer or partner to help with High Intensity training it can help a lot. I have even recorded youtube videos of some of my workout so that technique and form can be improved and critiqued. The writers of Body By Science have a great website at: you can even find a directory of H.I.T. gyms and trainers.

I find that is also a great website as it has videos on H.I.T. but also diet as well. Drew Baye is a world-renowned H.I.T. personal trainer and has a great website at: Drew Baye is one of the most knowledgeable people out there on H.I.T., exercise and health in general. He has a few ebooks which are great resources as well.

Having a partner can help as well, especially with videotaping workouts. Videotaping workouts and putting them on youtube is primarily to get feedback and not to show off or anything else. It is one of easiest and cheapest ways to get feedback on how you are doing and progressing with H.I.T.

The best two books I have found to be very helpful in not only explaining H.I.T. but also showing you how to do it is body by science and the body by science Q and A. The body by science books are some of the best resources and books out there on health and exercise in general. If you happen to come across their youtube channel they have some great videos as well. They even have on on lower back exercises as well to help alleviate lower back pain and strengthen lower back muscles.

Bill De Simone has a great youtube at and also a facebook page at: This will help you perform exercises in a safe congruent manner which is also more efficient and effective for your muscles as well.

Max Contraction Training : The Scientifically Proven Program for Building Muscle Mass in Minimum Time
Max Contraction Training : The Scientifically Proven Program for Building Muscle Mass in Minimum Time

This is more for advanced high intensity training which the authors of body by science have touched upon on their blogs.


Naturogenix - Natural Supplements and therapies

Natural supplements and therapies for those dealing with chronic conditions such as mthfr, methylation, detoxification defects, chronic fatigue syndrome, metabolic syndrome, thyroid issues.

The Body By Science Question and Answer Book
The Body By Science Question and Answer Book

This is a follow up to the body by science book, which goes more in depth.

Body by Science: A Research Based Program for Strength Training, Body building, and Complete Fitness in 12 Minutes a Week
Body by Science: A Research Based Program for Strength Training, Body building, and Complete Fitness in 12 Minutes a Week

This is the first book I read on high intensity training. Possibly one of the best books I've ever read on exercise, weight training and health in general.


Some good quality high intensity training resources

These are some books that I have and personally recommend for getting a more in depth look into high intensity training.

Advanced Max Contraction Training
Advanced Max Contraction Training

This is a more in depth look into max contraction training.

High-Intensity Training the Mike Mentzer Way
High-Intensity Training the Mike Mentzer Way

Along with Arthur Jones and a few others Mike Mentzer was one of the pioneers of High Intensity training.


Introduction to High Intensity Training

A video on my background with high intensity training.

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    • AntonioM23 profile image

      AntonioM23 4 years ago

      Great lens.Thanks for sharing.

    • Ahdilarum profile image

      Ahdilarum 4 years ago

      Informative tips for intensity training