Saturday, November 19, 2011

How You Can Benefit From High Intensity Training by GW Salter

The concept of high intensity training the way it is known today was first introduced by Arthur Jones in the early 70's with his introduction of Nautilus equipment. It was further put into practice by Mike Mentzer in the late 70's and early 80's.

It was not a popular concept and was debunked by many in the bodybuilding world at that time.

High intensity training basically states that muscles can be stimulated to grow by brief and infrequent workouts, if the intensity is high enough. This idea of brief, infrequent workouts went against the popular thinking at the time. Most experts and bodybuilders felt that you had to perform 12 to 20 sets per body part and work out for at least 2 hours at a time, sometimes twice a day for 6 days a week to get the most benefit. Mike Mentzer proved though that you could get in tremendous shape by working out for only 45 minutes at a time for no more than 4 times a week.

He trained in this manner for the 1980 Mr. Olympia and by most accounts was in the best shape of all the contenders but he only finished in 5th place. The ultimate winner was Arnold Schwarzenegger. Some people felt the reason Mentzer lost was that his principles went against the more popular training methods that were being advocated in magazines such as Muscle & Fitness and Flex who were the sponsors of the Mr. Olympia.

The logic of his and Arthur Jones does make sense. If more exercise is better than why stop at 12 to 20 sets, wouldn't 75 to 100 be better? Instead of working out 2 to 4 hours a day why not 6 to 12? Given this lack of clarity, Jones and Mentzer strove to put some scientific thought in their training instead of the "if this works for Arnold, then it must work for me" training approach.

In order for muscles to grow they must be induced by some form of stress and then be allowed to recuperate. If you work out for 4 hours a day, 6 days a week, your muscles and your body have no chance to recover. Some individuals that have above ordinary genetics and use some form of help, I.e. steroids, can workout like this and recover but most people can't.

An ideal high intensity routine would need to do two things, induce maximum possible growth stimulation and use up a minimum of the body's recuperative capacities. Therefore you need to do no more than 1 -2 sets per body part and work out no more than 3 times a week. In fact Mike Mentzer believed you only needed to workout once every four to seven days.

A typical Mentzer routine consisted of four workouts performed every four to seven days. The first workout was chest and back, second workout was legs and abs, third workout was shoulders and arms, and the fourth workout was legs and abs again. You would rest four to seven days between each workout. He would perform one to three exercises per body part for one set each taken to failure. He felt this workout properly stressed his muscles and allowed enough time for recovery.

The one drawback from this type of high intensity training is constantly pushing yourself to failure on each set. The best results come if you have a training partner or coach that can push you on every exercise.

A different version of high intensity training is called abbreviated or consolidated training. This type of training is centered around three basic exercises, the squat, the dead lift ,and the bench press. The idea being that you workout three days a week with each workout being centered around one of these exercises. For example, on Monday you do squats. You can do a 5 x 5 program or 5 sets of heavy singles. After squats do a couple of calf raises. On Wednesday you would do dead lifts, again 5 x 5 or 5 sets of heavy singles. Follow this with either pull downs or pull ups. On Friday, you would do bench presses. You can do a 5 x 5 program or heavy singles in a power rack. Follow this with some sit ups or leg raises.

The final benefit of high intensity or abbreviated training is that you are not spending a lot of time in the gym. For people who work full time or are training for a particular sport such as wrestling or mixed martial arts you can still workout for strength and power and still have time for your particular activity.