High Intensity Training (HIT) .. does it really work?

Okay guys, so I read a book called “Body By Science” that expressed and cited several studies that support the following claim:

You only need to workout once a week, with tremendous intensity (load), and slow movement (so as to no build momentum by throwing the weight up). I’m paraphrasing.

Turns out, that the book was only referring to relatively new studies, but that the concept has been around since the 70’s.

So picture this… no warm up needed, you go and do a series of exercises on machines, with extreme loads (75-80% of your max single rep). You do it very slowly, at a pace of 6 to 10 seconds with moving the weight for a total of 45 seconds to 2 minutes, some where in between.

There’s five total major exercises, you do your thing, and you’re in and out of the gym in less than 45 minutes.

You do this once a week (to allow for sufficient rest and adaption of your muscles).

After a while, you get lean, big and mean.

Does this really work?

Many thanks in advance.


I seriously doubt it. First of all, 75-80% of your max is not particularly heavy. My max bench press at the moment is about 215lbs. Seventy-five percent of that is 161lbs. That doesn’t even feel terribly heavy to me. I can probably do it 15 or 20 times on a good day. I know for a fact that I would get weaker if that’s the heaviest I went. Secondly, while weightlifting has recently (finally) gotten some credit for being a cardio workout in and of itself, going at a sloth’s pace isn’t going to do it. I’d like to flip through this book and see if you’re even relaying its message properly, because this sounds absurd.

Isn’t there an old joke about this kind of training? Or is that just the Specialized version?

I’m skeptical of any workout plan that preaches less effort = more results.

I have tried High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) running and would say it brings my heart rate up higher than just running at a constant speed for a constant period of time. Whether it is better than straight running I wouldn’t know, but worth a read:


About the only thing I’d agree with is the “no warm up needed”.
Of my many years of working out with weights I never performed any type of warm up.

HIIT is nothing more than a re-working of interval training that runners,cyclists and swimmers do to peak for competition.

The main drawbacks are that you need to be in good shape to handle that level of intensity plus it’s only short term gains. It’s also one dimensional that there is no endurance work which builds the foundation for harder work.

Try doing a warmup, you might be surprised.

I generally structure my weight workouts so that each exercise leads into the next so I only need to warm up for the first.

Also, a warmup is needed if you plan to lift(or run, swim or cycle) at very high intensity.

Low rep, heavy load lifting is an integral part of building muscle, but 1 day a week isn’t going to cut it, and I agree with Cisco that 75-80% of max probably isn’t heavy enough.

You’re right, HIT has been around a loooong time. There ARE plenty of studies that show that slow movements are superior to fast ones in a lot of ways. One of the reasons for that is that if you’re moving slowly, you’re (ideally) going to be paying more attention to form. Also, if you’re lifting slowly, you’re going to be more likely to lift an appropriate amt of weight. I can’t tell you how many times I see idiots (always males) at the gym who are lifting TOO heavy and thus have to fling the weights around to actually lift them. Have you ever seen someone doing bicep curls that has to use body english, bending backwards to hoist the weight up? Yeah, that’s him. That may get your heart rate up, but it ain’t giving you an optimal weight training experience. They would be much better served by lowering the weight a bit and using more steady, concentrated movement with proper form.

Here are some links that you might find useful:


I’d say it works. I will ask my husband to write something on the topic, as he is a personal trainer who uses this method.

“Less effort = more results” is incorrect. There is a lot of effort involved–trust me, I do it. :slight_smile:

I have significant bodyfat, and thought that it was kind of useless for me to work out, but since my husband is a trainer, and I go to his gym three times a week to pick up our dog, well, I may as well.

I still have significant bodyfat (Honey, he says gently, you have to also cut your calories…) but about two weeks ago I was astonished to look down at my leg and see…


As for going at “a sloth’s pace”, lifting the weights slowly (over either 10 or 5 seconds up and then the same down) makes for an excruciatingly difficult workout. I start sweating after the first exercise.

Also, the weight keeps going up as I keep improving.

More to come, but wanted to point out that it’s not an “easy” workout at all, and yes, amazingly enough, I now have some MUSCLES under my fat!

Edited to add: I only do it once a week, and yep–it works.

Now, if I can finally get the discipline to cut my calories, you’d see my beautiful MUSCLES. (I’m just so pleased–I never had muscles like this before.) And I also feel much stronger and more confident in what my body, imperfect as it is, can do.

I don’t know about less than 100% of max–if I do more than 8 reps successfully, the weight gets upped. He is always trying to get me closer to max. (If I’ve phrased that correctly.)

Heh. I’ve been seeing this guy at the gym lately. He’s probably 45, overweight but not huge or obese, obviously very out of shape. Balding, wears a headband. Looks like a character out of a Will Ferrell movie. Anyway . . . he’ll take about a 35lb dumbbell, put one leg on a bench, hold the dumbell in the opposite hand, and just start frantically swinging it like a briefcase. I swear to god I cannot figure out what he’s trying to accomplish. I don’t know whether to laugh or feel bad for him.

Well, from what you wrote, it sounds like you haven’t tried anything else. If the alternative is sitting on the couch, then walking to the end of the driveway to get the mail “works”.

If you’re just starting out, anything will work. The question really ought to be whether HIT is appropriate for a long time serious trainee. I’m skeptical for some of the reasons mentioned above, but the ultimate trial is to spend six weeks following the program and see what happens.

That’s too short to really evaluate. HIIT and other interval based training programs show the most progress in short periods of time. The question is can a person maintain that high level for months or years?

When I used to do intervals for racing, it was always over an 8-9 week period. Any more than that, I would start going stale and heading toward overtraining.

HIT and HIIT are different things. HIT stands for High Intensity Training, and it’s a weightlifting protocol that has been argued for and against since the 60’s. You’re thinking of HIIT, which stands for High Intensity Interval Training, and is a different thing entirely.

Bobalude brought up HIIT and I didn’t read ultrafilter’s post close enough.:smack::smack::smack:

However, I do feel that HIT is not suitable for beginners. The need to build a foundation is still there.

It’s exactly the amount of weight you should be able to perform 3 sets of 8-10 reps. Cite. The idea behind HIT is to recruit and fatigue muscle fibers in the target muscle and synergistic/stabilizer muscles by removing all the mechanical advantage of momentum and gravity. There are also suggestions (unfounded so far) that by keeping tension on the muscles you can alter the neurological input and increase resting muscle tone.

From what I had read in the past, some people swear by some variation of this program (usually a full body work out, one set per muscle group, 3 times a week), some people use it as a change of pace every couple of months, and others are less than impressed.


Theres a guy at work about 50 years old. He’s always been fairly muscular. In the last year, hes gotten ripped and huge. Sometime after I notice how big he’s gotten, a friend tells me how that guy is doing some freaky weird workout with these super slow motions. Apparently it works for him.

“Exact” is not a word that fits in real well in the world of weight training.

I have tried over the years: aerobics, swimming, fast sustained walking, jogging in my much younger days, and “regular” weight training.

Body fat loss is primarily a dietary issue, according to my husband, and I am not good at reducing my calories.

Then replace it with “about” or “around” and the point stands.

Dude do you have any Idea what you are talking about…try moving your 165 pound bench press at a rate of 12 seconds per rep with no pauses, no bouncing…do this until you, regardless of your greatest effort, can’t do one more rep…as soon as you get up, assuming you get up (if you did it right you won’t) check your pulse then. I will bet my life that your pulse will be way over 150 (maybe around 200) if not come to my gym and i will properly teach you technique and the true meaning of muscle failure and then you tell me if High Intensity Training is bull or not.