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Old 10-19-2011, 12:10 PM   #1
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Default Limitations of high intensity training

I don't come across too many intelligent discussions on high intensity training so I thought maybe Muscle And Brawn would be a good place.

I just finished reading Gordon Lavelle's book and he advocates a Dorian Yates style of muscle building. While it sounds very interesting I am left wondering what the limitations are of high intensity training are?
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Old 10-19-2011, 01:56 PM   #2
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I don't care for training to failure. I've never found it necessary.
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Old 10-19-2011, 02:30 PM   #3
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I don't discount it altogether 'cos it obviously works for some, but the problem I have is with it being 'THE WAY' people train. It's a decent thing to do every once in a while with exercises you are comfortable in. But like any change in training, it's usually the change and not the method that is the catalyst for growth/strength. Especially peaking strength by going from high to low volume.
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Old 10-19-2011, 02:36 PM   #4
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When we began to explore the Steve Reeve's style approach I was struck with how close it was to HIT. Not exactly the same, obviously, but it had only one top end heavy set for reps, and a couple ramped sets ala Dorian Yates.

I don't believe Reeves advocated failure, but I could be wrong.
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Old 10-19-2011, 02:42 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BendtheBar View Post
When we began to explore the Steve Reeve's style approach I was struck with how close it was to HIT...
I read an account someone gave of Mentzer training back in the 70's, he said he saw him do a heavy warm up of 15 reps, another heavy warm up of 12, another at 10 and then his final set of 8 which he took to failure. The guy approached Mike and said "hey, that's what everyone else does around here; 4 sets with decreasing reps! What happened to your HIT stuff??!" to which Mike replied "WHAT DO YOU MEAN, THEY WERE WARM UPS TO THE FINAL SET!".

Sure looked like a regular drop pyramid to me.
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Old 10-19-2011, 02:44 PM   #6
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I read an account someone gave of Mentzer training back in the 70's, he said he saw him do a heavy warm up of 15 reps, another heavy warm up of 12, another at 10 and then his final set of 8 which he took to failure. The guy approached Mike and said "hey, that's what everyone else does around here; 4 sets with decreasing reps! What happened to your HIT stuff??!" to which Mike replied "WHAT DO YOU MEAN, THEY WERE WARM UPS TO THE FINAL SET!".

Sure looked like a regular drop pyramid to me.
Exactly. Great story.

I tried that exact approach last year at one point and the warmup sets were no joke. We had more than a few people fun the Reeve's routine, and they quickly found that "one working top end set" was much harder than it looked when preceded by high rep warmups.
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Old 10-19-2011, 03:03 PM   #7
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I don't believe Reeves advocated failure, but I could be wrong.
Reeves didnt use the word failure. In his book he simply states, "increase the weight once you get all 12 reps". This leaves room for ambiguity.

Secondly, Reeves had a progression in # of sets too. Single sets for each exercise were just for beginners. For the more advanced trainee, his approach was more like Reg Parks, were he advocated 3 sets (after warm up sets). So this was not exactly HIT, Yates style.
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Old 10-19-2011, 03:09 PM   #8
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Reeves didnt use the word failure. In his book he simply states, "increase the weight once you get all 12 reps". This leaves room for ambiguity.

Secondly, Reeves had a progression in # of sets too. Single sets for each exercise were just for beginners. For the more advanced trainee, his approach was more like Reg Parks, were he advocated 3 sets (after warm up sets). So this was not exactly HIT, Yates style.
I follow.

My main point, which I probably didn't state clearly, was that there are some programs out there that resemble HIT, or or not too far off from HIT, but that are not often viewed as being in the HIT family tree.

If we put the Reeve's beginner up with one working set and didn't attribute it to Reeve's, but instead called it a HIT workout and added failure, a lot of people wouldn't take it seriously because of the HIT Jedi hatred.

Referring to Fazc's post...some forms of HIT are exactly the same as a volume workout with diminishing reps and increased weight.
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Old 10-19-2011, 03:35 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BendtheBar View Post
If we put the Reeve's beginner up with one working set and didn't attribute it to Reeve's, but instead called it a HIT workout and added failure, a lot of people wouldn't take it seriously because of the HIT Jedi hatred.
I see where you are getting at. And mostly, I agree with you on this. Just as there are HIT jedis, there are lots of people who hate HIT jedis to the point that they wont even listen to what they say. But ... I differ in the opinion that Reeves' beginner routine (for most part) is like a HIT routine. If anything, his methods might involve failure in the higher volume variants, but I doubt it. I had a feeling after reading his book that his core philosophy was to use volume as a way to getting around without training to failure.

I mentioned there is room for ambiguity, so let me elaborate a bit more on that. The Reeve's plan:

The diktat was, once you get 12 reps, increase weight (5 lbs). Consider a case where you are using 150 lbs, but actually have the capacity to get in 160 lbs for the target reps. You would increase the weight next workout to 155 for 12 reps, and you still wouldn't hit failure. This point becomes especially critical for beginners. Their bodies adapt very fast, and with each workout, the threshold for "failure" goes up; initially it goes up so rapidly, that they don't reach failure when they increase the weight by 5 lbs/workout.

In other words, this is the regime when everyone talks of milking the linear progression, and while this can be tough workouts, this is not necessarily training to failure HIT style.

As a trainee advanced though, Reeves advocated higher volume of work. In his book (Building a Classic physique the natural way), he recommends increasing the number of sets to 2 once the trainee can't add weights/reps every workout with the single set protocol on a consistent basis. This would imply that he was advocating increasing the volume to avoid training to failure consistently. Similarly, moved on from 2 sets to 3 sets later on, but never did I see him advocate more than 3 sets.

Instead beyond this, he changed the routine. If you look at his beginner's routine, he had 9-10 exercises, one per bodypart. If you look at the final routine in the book (the one he states was his peak or championship routines), he further increased the total volume by increasing the number of exercises to 3-4 moves/bodypart. Including all of it, he had 27 or 28 exercises per session, 2-4 sets/exercise, and a whopping 61-62 work sets per session, each of which lasted about 2.5 hours. Reeves was a beast too, one with incredible genetics, who relied on volume as he advanced more and more.

Anyway, the whole point in this post is this: going through the routines of Reeves, I can sense that he used volume as a tool to progress without training to absolute failure (at least on a consistent basis), so in that sense I would not think of Reeves routines as HIT style. I agree with you though, that if you dont look at his training philosophy in a holistic manner, rather looked at one block of his routines, his principles are ambiguous enough to be thought that this is a style close to HIT.

Hope I make sense, lol

Getting back to the topic of the thread, regarding limitations of HIT - a major limitation according to me lies with the trainees - failure in HIT is "perceptive" rather than "measurable". Two different individuals with different mindset, and training to failure will mean different things. Heck, even for the same individual, working out after a good day in the office and a bad day in the office, mindset would be different and failure would take different meanings.

Plus as Fazc pointed out, HIT is a very good tool, but we would do well to keep in mind that this is not the only tool.
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Old 10-19-2011, 02:49 PM   #10
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Reminds me sort of Grimek...I believe he used to do 20 rep sets of squats with "lighter" weight as he worked up to 400-500 with reps.
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