HIT - High intensity training is a method of resistance training that requires a high level effort for a relatively short workout time.
This is not to be confused with the more popularised workout style HIIT or high intensity interval training which refers to exercise involving short bursts of very intense work (often cardio exercise) performed just shy of max effort, followed by a recovery period. This cycle is then repeated for several rounds.
The main notable difference between the two being that in a HIT workout there is no recovery time, the exercises are done back to back as fast as the athlete can complete with good form.
Typically a HIT workout will include 10-12 resistance exercises, with each exercise being performed to complete muscular fatigue or failure. Ideally each repetition should be slow, controlled and completed with good technique. The overall workout time is 20-30 minutes at most.
One example of HIT training is a ‘drop set’ where you complete as many repetitions as possible of an exercise, then without a break reduce the weight and again perform as many repetitions as possible before again reducing the weight. Depending on your experience and training history you may reduce the weight 4-5 x before you literally can no longer perform another repetition.
Why would one choose this style of training?
Progressive overload is a fundamental principle of training. In order to create change within a muscle, that is for a muscle to grow in size (hypertrophy), to see strength gains or improvements in overall functional capacity you essentially need to expose your muscles to a workload that is greater than what they are accustomed too.
In a HIT session by working to muscular failure you are ensuring that you train every single muscle fibre within that muscle which will create a stimulus for change. As you get stronger, or can complete more repetitions of an exercise before you fail you can make the decision to increase the weight which adds a further element of overload.
Now I know what you may be thinking... is that really good for your body? Well it can be as long as you ensure the volume and frequency of your training is not too great. Overtraining will lead to a lack of progress and potentially increase your risk of injury so it’s advised that this style of training is performed 2-3 x per week only with a recovery day in between.
The benefits of HIT?
Well firstly the shorter workout time is attractive especially these days where we all seem to lead such busy lives. You can be in and out of the gym in 30 minutes which can free up extra time for other daily demands.
The health benefits from HIT are similar to many forms of resistance training and can include; lowering of blood pressure and cholesterol which can both contribute to improved cardiovascular health, a reduction in body fat and improvements in muscle mass.
Why wouldn’t you do it?
It’s quite a physically demanding style of training and may not be appropriate for everyone. If you haven’t tried this type of training before and you are unsure of anything I would always recommend seeking the guidance of a fitness professional. Depending on your goals there may be alternative training options that will be better suited.