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The Principals Of High-Intensity Training

Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s a bodybuilder named Mike Mentzer was using high-intensity training (HIT) to build muscle and break through plateaus. The system, which he referred to as “Heavy Duty,” relied on using heavy weight and low volume, with the idea being that maximum intensity with minimum sets would produce massive gains. And it worked. Years later, another bodybuilder named Dorian Yates would employ his version of HIT and it would lead him to six Mr. Olympia titles.

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Were Mentzer or Yates the first to administer this style of training? No, it’s been around for 40 years. But the point is, it’s a workout method that’s proven to help you achieve bigger gains while building heaps of muscles. However, HIT is not something that should be used all of the time. Research out of South Alabama and Baylor University found that in trained subjects — you know, workoutaholics like us — both high-intensity and low-intensity training were equally effective at building muscle. In other words, mixing up training styles is paramount to continued progress.

While the amount of intensity you use depends on your fitness level, in the gym, no matter how much weight you’re pushing, pulling, squatting, or pressing, you can use these HIT principles when you’re ramping up the intensity:

* Do not overextend yourself on warm-up sets. Your working sets — i.e. those in which you’re pushing yourself to achieve hypertrophy — are where you’ll make gains. Your last warm-up set should be in the 65-75% range of your one-rep max (1RM).

* Keep the number of sets low (between two and three) and achieve failure on each set.

* Aim for six to nine reps for all sets. No cheating. And if your form breaks, the set is over. You can also implement a rest-pause — racking the weight and resting for a few moments before continuing your set — to polish off the set.

* Use lower weight without sacrificing intensity by using the pre-exhaust method and supersetting it with a compound movement. For example, perform a high-rep set of leg extensions (20-30) and then immediately move to six to nine reps on the leg press.

* Use a spotter or advanced techniques like forced reps and negatives to push yourself past the point where you’d typically fail.

Related: Use Pre-Exhaust Training For Serious Gains

Don’t forget to fuel up properly with with P4’s Pre Game Formula. You’ll get the energy rush you need to obliterate every high-intensity set, along with creatine and beta alanine to support strength gains. And recovery smarter with P4’s Recovery Push Formula; our tasty post-game or post-workout drink contains the electrolytes and vitamins your body craves after a tough training session.

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