Achieve new gains with this high intensity workout. This HIT MASS 3 day split is perfect for beginners as well as lifters looking to bust through a plateau!
Workout Summary
  • Main Goal
    Build Muscle
  • Workout Type
  • Training Level
  • Program Duration6 weeks
  • Days Per Week
  • Time Per Workout60-75 minutes
  • Equipment Required
    Barbell, Cables, Dumbbells, Machines
  • Target Gender Male & Female
  • Workout PDF Download Workout

Workout Description

3 sets of 10, 4 sets of 12, most training systems out there are what is known as high volume.

You use several different exercises for 3-4 sets of moderate rep ranges like 8-12 in hopes to break down muscle tissue, so you can use nutrition and supplementation to recover and grow.

If you’re waiting for the knock on protocols like this, you’re going to wait a while because it obviously works.

However, just because one way works doesn’t mean it’s the only way.

HIT the Muscles a New Way

Let's cover a training style that has been proven to be successful, but is only discussed and used periodically. This system isn’t new. It was once popular during the golden era of bodybuilding, but now it only takes the spotlight when a new superstar is discovered and preaches about its greatness.

As the title of the article tells you, I’m talking about High Intensity Training and from here on out, it will be referenced in its abbreviated form of “HIT”.

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Whereas high volume training calls for several “work sets” where you push yourself to stimulate muscle, HIT calls for the lifter to perform 1-2 “warm up sets” with light to moderate weight before performing a single, all out work set.

When I say all out, I mean all out. You perform this set to absolute failure.

History of HIT

High Intensity Training was originally made famous by Arthur Jones in the 1970s. Although Jones is primarily known as the founder of HIT, it’s believed by some that HIT can be traced back to the 19th century and a doctor named Gustav Zander who created a method of training similar to HIT.

Related: How to Develop a Dramatic V Taper - Tips, Tricks, and Results

Jones claimed to have never knew of Zander when he came up with HIT. Jones’ theory was that performing brief but intense sets with maximum effort was what it took to achieve hypertrophy. As strength improved, the resistance increases and you work to overload the muscle so you can prevent plateaus and continue to improve.

Early versions of HIT routines called for tri-weekly, full body routines so each muscle group was targeted with minimum sets three times a week, and there was more emphasis placed on recovery.

Team Allmax Athlete Performing Dumbbell Curls

As years went by, other advocates of HIT would make changes that fit their individual needs. The most famous advocates of HIT that did this are the late Mike Mentzer and 6-time Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates.

Mentzer’s version of HIT was known as “Heavy Duty” training. He would perform two workouts which included 1-2 total sets of anywhere from four to six different exercises per bodypart. Each set was for 6-8 reps and that was it.

Yates would take the mantle of HIT in the 1990s and elevate it to new levels of popularity thanks to his version which was known as “Blood and Guts”. Yates would train one to two body parts a day and perform light to moderate sets before performing his all-out set to failure or beyond.

Going beyond failure included techniques such as drop sets, rest-pause, partials, and forced reps with emphasis on the negative portion of the rep. Blood & Guts is still recognized by many in the bodybuilding and fitness industry as the most popular and top version of HIT.

What all HIT Versions Have in Common

Although each major version of HIT had its own unique differences, they all had themes in common. These included making sure you used a full range of motion throughout the exercise, performed quality reps with focus on the negatives and time under tension, and that you MUST go to failure when performing the work set.

If you leave a rep or two in the tank then you didn’t do the job properly. There is also emphasis on recovery and allowing as much time as possible in between workouts so the muscles would be prepared for the next session and had maximum opportunity to improve.

This also means recovery between sets. High volume training normally includes 1-2 minute rest periods. HIT programs can have as long as five minutes between sets.

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Take HIT to the Gym

What follows will be a sample, three day a week, training routine for anyone interested in trying HIT for yourself. If you’ve never tried HIT before or are looking for something new to help you spark some muscle growth, this is for you.

If you’re advanced in HIT or are using a program that’s working for you right now, stick with what you’re doing until you feel like you hit a plateau. Then you can give this program a whirl for yourself.

This program will be a Monday, Wednesday, Friday program with Tuesday, Thursday, and weekends off. When I say off, I mean OFF. Stay away from the gym, don’t think about training, and make sure you stick with a sound nutrition/supplementation plan.

This is a six week program with the goals to be to introduce HIT into your training and create opportunities for hypertrophy.

Warming Up

You should dedicate the first 15 minutes of your training to warming up. This includes 5 minutes of light aerobic activity that works the whole body like skipping rope or hitting a heavy bag. Don’t go all out during this process. Our goals are to get blood moving and warming up the body.

The next 10 minutes should be on stretching the entire body from head to toe. After this 15 minute period, grab your BCAA drink of choice and hit the weight room.

One Last Point

You should definitely have a training partner or spotter that you really trust because you will go to failure. If you stop without needing assistance, you’re not following HIT correctly.

Have that person at the ready to spot you and help you get a couple of extra reps when you need it.

Allmax Athlete Showing off his gains from High Intensity Training

The HIT Program

You’ll look at this split and think it’s very basic and simple. You’re right. What you should know is that your effort will determine the success or failure of this program. That variable is the deciding factor. Each exercise will have three sets; warm-up, moderate, and your HIT set.

Your first set is the warm up set. Here you’ll use a light weight that you should have no problem handling throughout the set. The goal here is to focus on the mind-muscle connection and practicing that full range of motion throughout the rep.

If you’re performing a curl, make sure you’re using the biceps as much as you can without generating any swinging to create momentum. Lift it all the way up and lower it under control to the starting position while feeling your bicep working the entire time.

Related: Old School Gains - Build Muscle Like an Iron-Game Legend

Your second set is a moderate set. You’re going to go heavier but again, you should have no trouble finishing the set. You should have four to five more reps in the tank here. If the set calls for 10 reps, use a weight that you can do for 14-16 reps.

The third set is your HIT set. It’s go time. Pick a weight that you will struggle with to accomplish the rep goal. If you’re supposed to perform 8 reps, you better not be able to get 9 on your own. If you can, you went too light. If you’re a rep short, have your partner help you. Make sure you don’t go too heavy because you won’t get the desired effect and can risk injury.

You’ll rest for 3 minutes between each set and when you go from one exercise to the next. During this period, drink water or BCAA’s, stretch, and focus on what lies ahead. When you finish the last rep, get out of the gym and start taking your post-workout supplements.

Exercise Sets Reps
1. Incline Barbell Bench Press 3 12, 10, 6-8*
2. Dumbbell Fly 3 12, 10, 8-10*
3. Weighted Dip 3 12, 10, 8-10*
4. Lateral Raise 3 12, 10, 8-10*
5. Upright Row 3 12, 10, 10-12*
6. Lying Tricep Extensions 3 12, 10, 8-10*
7. Rope Pressdown 3 12, 10, 10-12*

*Last set is your all out HIT set to failure. Aim to pick a weight you will fail within the prescribed rep range.

Exercise Sets Reps
1. Leg Extension 3 15, 12, 10-12*
2. Squats 3 15, 12, 10-12
3. Leg Press 3 15, 12, 12*
4. Stiff Legged Deadlift 3 15, 12, 10-12*
5. Lying Leg Curl 3 15, 12, 10-12*
6. Seated Calf Raise 3 20, 15, 15*
7. Standing Calf Raise 3 20, 15, 15*

*Last set is your all out HIT set to failure. Aim to pick a weight you will fail within the prescribed rep range.

Exercise Sets Reps
1. Dumbbell Pullover 3 12, 10, 6-8*
2. Bent Over Barbell Row 3 12, 10, 8-10*
3. Reverse Grip Pulldown 3 12, 10, 8-10*
4. Barbell Curl 3 12, 10, 8-10*
5. Incline Dumbbell Curl 3 12, 10, 10-12*
6. Weighted Crunch 3 12, 10, 8-10*
7. Hanging Leg Raise** 3 12, 10, 10-12*

*Last set is your all out HIT set to failure. Aim to pick a weight you will fail within the prescribed rep range.
**Add weight to this exercise by holding a dumbbell with your feet.

Posted on: Sat, 01/06/2024 - 18:58

Hi, I’m new to weightlifting, this program interest me. I haven’t seen this type of routine before. Can elaborate on how the sets work?

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Posted on: Sun, 01/07/2024 - 20:30

Besides what I wrote in the article, I will summarize with this. Light and moderate sets are to focus on form and prepare the muscle for the heavy set. The heavy set breaks downs the fibers by working the muscles to failure. When you leave the gym and eat/sleep, your fibers will rebuild with the rest and nutrients you provide them so they grow.

Conner Neibert
Posted on: Thu, 11/16/2023 - 12:33

Is this not categorized commonly as 3ST? HIT typically uses between 75-85% your 1RPM, how is this possible when your program uses 15, sometimes 20 reps per exercise, and for 3 sets.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 11/28/2023 - 18:47

Sorry if this isn't clear. The higher rep sets are doubling as warm-up sets. They aren't meant to be taken to failure - just to master form, feel the muscles working, and prepare for that all-out set.

Posted on: Sun, 11/06/2022 - 12:23

Rock, I can do all of these exercises, except for the weighted dips (I have a jacked up tendon right above my elbow, that blew out in high school, and three "experts" say there is nothing to operate on/fix), what could I do in place of that exercise, to not miss out? Thanks, GF

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Posted on: Thu, 11/10/2022 - 06:42

Are you training in a gym or at home? Want to make the best recommendation possible for your training environment.

Posted on: Thu, 11/10/2022 - 07:40

Currently I am in the middle of a 3 to 4 month stint with a trainer at kind of a fitness suite/gym, awakening my 46 year old muscle groups from too many years being a couch potato. However, after the beginning of the year, I'm on my own and it will be at a gym called VASA (kind of like a planet fitness but more upscale, for people with class and money). So I will be on my own in like 7 weeks or so, and I like the idea of the 3 days of the week workout, because I go Mon, Wed, and Fri now, while doing abs/cardio at home and taking a rest day. I know they have that triceps machine that has the weird grips, where the handles have two positions, and I think I could do that or something that doesn't put the strain of all of my body weight on it. I'm down like 42 pounds since the beginning of the year, and one pants size away from when I got married in 05. But I said to myself, if I'm going to do this, I'm going to get swole and do all my self workouts to failure/less reps-more weight. That was all TMI, and sorry I didn't just say "gym".

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 11/13/2022 - 21:45

I love the TMI because it helps me answer the question better. And congrats on the progress!

The machine you referenced would work. Cable kickbacks would work as well. You may have to just feel around the gym and find what works for you. If the cable kickbacks don't work, check out our Exercises section at the top. Any pressing movement in the triceps section could be a help for you. Good luck, and thanks for sharing your story with M&S!

Daniel Doss
Posted on: Sun, 10/25/2020 - 13:31

Does anyone use the “strong” app that can add it to their cloud to share.

Posted on: Thu, 09/26/2019 - 11:39

Mr. Rob
I am in my 70s , I like working out right now I am doing Simply Training plan. Day 1 I workout on my Chest & Triceps. Day 2= I workout on my Legs and Calves. The 3 day off. Day 4= I workout my Shoulders and Traps and ABS. Day 5= workout my Back and Biceps. I do Heavy days and next light days.I have been doing this program for about six mouths. I am not getting any where, I need some help.

Posted on: Sun, 10/25/2020 - 16:21

I’ve been training harder, not just going to the gym, since my mid 30s and am late 60s so know how hard it is as you age. You have to balance everything and avoid injuries. Using HIT is the best way. Use weight amounts just like the article, what can you use with strict form for 8-10 reps. The final set is all out, using forced reps, rest pause, partials and ISO holds. Lots of protein, BCAAs, before, during and after and at bedtime. I do a 3 day split 4 days a week so I hit each group twice every 3rd week. Making some nice gains. Betting you will too following the HIT formula.

Brian Gneiting
Posted on: Tue, 04/16/2019 - 18:14

How much should you increase the weight for each set and how much weight should you decrease for your HIT set?

Posted on: Mon, 01/21/2019 - 21:59

I can only hit the gym every 3rd day. Would this routine work if done every 3rd day. I can not do Monday Wednesday Friday. Thanks

Posted on: Sun, 03/31/2019 - 17:01

try going on tuesdays, thursdays and saturdays

Jerry Deweese II
Posted on: Fri, 11/02/2018 - 09:31

Do you have any advise for a novice over 52 year old that wants to make noticeable gains?

Posted on: Sun, 09/22/2019 - 22:23

You will make more gains in your first year of lifting then the next two to follow. Go for it and you will not be disappointed.

Posted on: Sun, 09/30/2018 - 23:34

The duration of this program in the summary is six weeks, but in the text it says "This is a four week program". Which one is correct?

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Posted on: Mon, 10/01/2018 - 10:04

Hi Predrag,

6 weeks is correct.

Posted on: Mon, 04/30/2018 - 07:49

Hey man! Great plan.. Do u have a alternative for the weighted dips? Am not strong enough to do 3 sets of dips so it would be better to switch with something else.

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Posted on: Mon, 04/30/2018 - 08:59

Hi Randy,

Perform the bodyweight variation until you can go weighted. If you struggle to perform bodyweight dips, go with eccentric only dips (where you lower yourself slowly to the bottom and then step up on a bench or hop up to the top) until you build the strength necessary to perform bodyweight dips.

Hope this helps!

Posted on: Tue, 03/27/2018 - 23:08

Hey, great plan. However I want to drop about 30 lbs and convert some of that into lean muscle. Would HIIT running programs be good for my off days or better after my workout? I feel cardio is important for the fat loss. Thoughts?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 03/28/2018 - 09:26

Hi Jeff,

You can incorporate cardio wherever you see fit. Weight training and cardio workouts can help you burn calories, but at the end of the day, fat loss is determined by whether you consistently burn more calories than you eat over a duration of time.

Find your calorie needs here:

Subtract 250-500 calories from that number and aim to eat that amount of calories consistently during the duration of your workout program.

Hope this helps!

Posted on: Sat, 03/24/2018 - 05:49

You wrote that the rest time between set is 3 minutes, I feel that it is to much. I prefer doing it like this:
Before first set- 1 minute rest
Before second set- 1 minute rest
Before Third set (Hit set)- 2-3 minute rest.
Is it the right amount of resting time between sets?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 03/26/2018 - 09:32

Hi Daniel,

Sure, that's fine.

Hope this helps!

Posted on: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 16:23

I don't workout with a partner and I this workout implies workout partner in order to hit the last rep. What would be an alternative to getting the same results but with no workout buddy?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 01/05/2018 - 08:58

Hi Manu,

You'll still see pretty good results by performing this workout without going to complete failure on the last set.

Hope this helps!

Richard Salazar
Posted on: Sat, 01/20/2018 - 08:11

Instead of the barbell bench press that requires a partner .. I do the machine bench press where not partner is required and I can safely go to failure without any possibility of inuring myself.

Posted on: Wed, 03/07/2018 - 22:03

I also workout alone and find at the end of the last set when failure starts a rest pause can help you get 2 to 4 more painful but satisfying repetitions...

Bryan Shankman
Posted on: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 09:55
Posted on: Wed, 03/07/2018 - 16:21

DUDE!! yes!

Posted on: Fri, 03/09/2018 - 16:03

Do you have any more plans on Google sheets??

Posted on: Sun, 09/12/2021 - 08:29

Thanks so much Bryan, saved me a lot of time !
Don't regret reading the comments on this section !

Posted on: Tue, 08/29/2017 - 13:31

Is only working out 3 days a week gonna give you gains?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 08/29/2017 - 13:57

Hi Rob,

Yes, working out just 3 days a week is plenty to build muscle if you're performing a good program. I know people who build muscle performing just 2 full body workouts a week.

It's a common misconception that you need to be in day in and day out to build muscle. It's just the starting point for building muscle. Other factors, such as diet, sleep, and stress management, are far more important to building muscle than working out 5+ days a week.

Hope this helps!

Posted on: Sun, 08/13/2017 - 19:47

Time per workout says 60-75 min, but.....
exercises per workout: 7
sets per exercise: 3
rest between sets: 3min
rest between exercises: 3min
Assuming time per set (doing it): 1min
And total time (excluding warm up and stretching): (7*3*3min) + (7*3min) + (7*3*1min) = 105 min
Am I missing something?

Is there a HIT workout plan or maybe HVT that fits into 50-60 min?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 08/14/2017 - 09:01

Hi Alex,

Within the article it states to keep rest between 1-2 minutes. The time duration is simply an estimation. It may vary workout to workout.

Hope this helps!

Posted on: Sun, 10/25/2020 - 12:31

Your maths is way out, so yes you’re definitely missing something!

Posted on: Tue, 04/11/2017 - 08:24

Hi there.
If possible, could you please show me a before-and-after picture of someone who took on this program. I would just like to know if it really is very effective.
Thank you.

Andy brooks
Posted on: Fri, 03/03/2017 - 18:21

I 've followed the works of mentzer and Jones for 20 years.they were way ahead of there time.I love this really have to adjust your frequency and duration with this kind of training.if not you can really cook your nervous system.I love it though

Roger Rock Lockridge
Posted on: Sat, 04/08/2017 - 13:52

Hey Andy. Yes, Mentzer and Jones weren't only pioneers but innovaters. I appreciate your feedback and reading. Thanks for being a part of the M&S community.

Posted on: Mon, 02/27/2017 - 13:43

Here's a printable & downloadable file for those asking, pay it forward


Posted on: Mon, 02/27/2017 - 03:00

I just looked at the HIT MASS Workout from you, looks very good but how can I download it and print it out?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 02/27/2017 - 09:40

Hi Rachel,

We are looking to add printable versions of workouts to M&S in the very near future. I apologize for the inconvenience until then.

Roger Rock Lockridge
Posted on: Mon, 02/20/2017 - 18:33

I appreciate M&S sharing my new article. There is also a 4 and 5 day split piece coming next month so if you're new to HIT, give this a go and stay tuned for the next one.

Posted on: Sun, 02/26/2017 - 11:14

Can we get a printer friendly version of the 3 day and 5 day workout guide? That'd be awesome!

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 02/27/2017 - 09:39

Hi Lou,

We're looking to add printable versions of workouts to the website in the very near future. I apologize for the inconvenience in the meantime.

Posted on: Sun, 02/26/2017 - 12:08

Cool!! Looking forward to the 5day/split!

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 03/13/2017 - 11:54

Hi Cassandr,

5 Day split is now live and can be found in the link below:

Posted on: Sun, 02/26/2017 - 12:21

Thank rock! Can't wait to try this workout!!

Posted on: Thu, 09/14/2017 - 02:50

how about cardio?? should i do a cardio exercise right after my sets? or i do it the next day??