HIT Workout - Build Muscle With This High Intensity Training Routine

Max Riley
Written By: Max Riley
April 18th, 2013
Updated: January 4th, 2018
340.7K Reads
HIT training is unlike any muscle building approach you've ever tried. Workouts are brisk, intense, focusing on moderate volume, training to failure and recovery.
Workout Summary

Workout Description

It wasn't very long ago that HIT, or high intensity training, was the brunt of many jokes. Claims were being tossed around that HIT was the most efficient method of building muscle.

Many proponents of HIT were very vocal about this belief. Because of this, a certain faction of HIT trainees became known as HIT Jedis.

I am neither a HIT Jedi, nor do I believe HIT is the "only" way to build muscle. With that said, I believe HIT workouts can be a viable way to train for many individuals.

Fullbody workouts are making a comeback as research seems to indicate that natural bodybuilders are better off training more frequently, rather than once per week. Now if you think about HIT training, it is really just a fullbody workout with a more moderate volume.

Here are the staples of HIT training:

  • Frequency - Train only 2-3x per week.
  • Moderate Volume - Generally 1-2 sets per exercise.¬†
  • Failure - Most sets and exercises are taken to the point of muscular failure.
  • Rest - Workouts are performed at a brisk pace. There are no long rest periods between sets.

Because of workout intensity, overall sets are restricted. Rest and recovery are stressed.

The following HIT workout schedule can be performed 2-3 times per week. I recommend playing things by ear. When you feel recovered hit the gym. There is no need to stick to a tight schedule. Just make sure you take at least one day of rest off in between workouts.

HIT Workout Routine

For squats you want to use an appropriate warmup protocol. You will also not be training to failure on squats. Do as many safe reps as you can using good form.

If you feel like you need warmup sets for any of these exercises, do them. Just make sure to maintain a brisk workout pace.

HIT Workout
Perform 2-3x Each Week
Exercise Sets Reps
Squat 1 12-15
Dumbbell Pullover 1 8-12
Leg Press 1 12-15
Dumbbell Bench Press 1 8-12
Machine Row 1 8-12
Smith Machine Overhead Press 1 8-12
Pull Ups or Lat Pull Down 1 10-15
Cable Tricep Extension 1 10-15
EZ Bar Preacher Curl 1 8-12
Leg Curl 1 10-15
Seated Calf Raise 1 12-15
Dumbbell Shrug 1 10-15
Cable Crunch 1 12-20
Posted on: Mon, 03/28/2016 - 23:09

Can you do this workout with a cable machine

Dominick the Donkey
Posted on: Fri, 12/27/2013 - 13:27

I just did this exercise on my lunch break. I lost 34lbs and added 46lbs to my bench press. At this rate I'll look like a hybrid version of Dikembe Mutombo and Hercules slammed into one

Posted on: Thu, 12/26/2013 - 14:45

Protein shake during a workout and creatine right before bedtime???

Posted on: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 03:02

As the article points out, HIT is about rest and recovery. The underlying assumption is that most workouts are too long in time and in exercises. To the best of my knowledge, the key principle is that one set of an exercise at a weight that is about 85% or close to your max provides sufficient "Stimulation" to provoke muscle growth. Anything more, and you'll experience diminishing returns in terms of muscle growth.

I use to do 4 exercises for chest at 3 sets for 10-12 reps. That's 12 sets for about 100-120 reps.

Now I do 2 exercises for 3 sets for 5-8 reps. That's 6 sets for 30-48 reps.

That's about a 50% reduction in reps.

So far, I have no seen a decrease in growth or strength gains. I rest 6 days between workouts but follow a pretty tight eating schedule which is basically eat as much as I can AND consume whey protein before, during, and after workouts. Basically 20g protein 30 minutes before, 20g during, and 20g 30 minutes after. For about 60g within a 2 hour period. I take creatine before I go to bed.

Started in May 18th at 155lbs 1RM and now I am 240lbs 1 Rm in Sept. 18. That's 85lbs in four months or 20 lbs each month or 5 lbs added each week. At this rate I should be at 300lbs 1 RM Bench by the new year. Now I would say that the creatine had something to do with it because in May and June I was not using it. Most of my gains came after I loaded creatine for 1week. Or it could be that it took me 2 months to get everything up and running and the creatine is just psychological.

In any event, using a 4 month HIT workout can not hurt. I just happen to think that it is better for those that have training experience and know how to perform exercises with great form and push out those reps. You can not half-ass HIT or you are not doing HIT.

Posted on: Thu, 08/08/2013 - 05:54

I recently started this workout with a trainer/friend of mine. Only twice a week and it's really no joke. My max on bench went up from 205 to 215 after the first week and squat max up from 405 to 455. The only difference is that I had no rest period so it's a ton of cardio. Leg curls, leg extensions, leg press/squats, lat pull downs, bench press, rows, shoulder press, scull crushers, curls and abs. I just wanna say don't knock it until you try it. Too many people think you need to stay in the gym for long periods of time to see better results but the rest is actually more important than the amount of workout. I did this workout in 22 minutes and could barely walk. I took 2 days off and did it again and puked my guts out cuz it's pretty intense. The trainer had me doing more weight than my max and had me focus on the negatives (downward parts). Just try it before you say anything. At least 10 reps on each exersise, 1 set.

dave silver
Posted on: Sun, 01/11/2015 - 14:47

I'm 60 my 59 year young wife started doing this at 56 shes in near perfect shape. I started 17 months ago just 15 min. every 3 days done to momentary muscle failure. This kicks your ass but is so very effective. Strength has gone up a minimum of 25% leg press is now over 33% to 410lbs 1 set 6 reps. look at Dr Doug McGuff you- tube workout he started at 14 years old now over 50 in World class shape. P.S. you'll need a personal trainer for the first few months. most important go slow no momentum it will fatigue all three strands of muscles.

Posted on: Mon, 08/05/2013 - 20:19

so i go to the gym just to do one set ....lol

Posted on: Thu, 08/08/2013 - 05:56

You do around 10 different exercises all with 1 set each.

Posted on: Tue, 06/25/2013 - 12:26

So, I am assuming with just one set of each per day, I need to find what weight will take me to failure then???? Sorry, it has been a long time since I have done anything besides Insanity...

Posted on: Thu, 08/08/2013 - 06:00

Find your 1 rep max for each workout you do. Then when you're ready for this workout you wanna find the weight you can do 8-10 reps on. Once you get to 10 it should be nearly impossible for you to do. If 10th rep is still a bit easy go heavier. Stick to that routine.

Iron Thumb
Posted on: Thu, 05/09/2013 - 18:47

The regimen above is accurate, except that you did not mention the HIT techniques that is why most of those moves fall on a very high rep range (which is surprisingly not HIT) but you just failed to take into consideration that those 15 reps of squats wuld comprise of just 8 reps- then rest pause, and/or forced reps until 15. Just needed to add that in case other readers would be wondering.

Posted on: Wed, 08/21/2013 - 06:17

You are so incredibly wrong lol

Posted on: Sun, 05/05/2013 - 16:57

Hi, im interested in this workout. my questions is that I go to the gym 4 times a week, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. can I do this Monday and Tuesday and rest Wednesday then do it Thursday and Friday and rest on the Weekend or have to be done one day yes and one day no. thank you.

Posted on: Thu, 08/08/2013 - 05:57

Your muscles usually take 2 days to heal. Do this tuesday and Friday for best results. Monday and Thursday maybe just cardio or something. No heavy weights.

Posted on: Wed, 04/24/2013 - 18:47

c'mon. most more workouts like the HIML workout. more intermediate/advanced, less beginner.
post more exercises with deadlifts and regular exercises oppose to that weird stuff no one likes to do like bulgarian squats and stuff. IMO HIML was the best workout ive seen in awhile, it wasn't perfect..but it was good.

Posted on: Mon, 05/06/2013 - 12:27

To be fair, dsaqw, I went through that program, after a year of cycling through different others. All I can say is that it made me sweat. Had to tweak it a bit since I only have a barbell and dumbbells available. You can easily fit the deadlift in. It's a frame as a base to follow but it doesn't mean you have to follow it as it is. It's not physics. If you change a few parts in the equation it won't end up being unbalanced.
It's up to you to give it a go. Can't do the work for you.

Posted on: Thu, 04/18/2013 - 16:08

Interesting I will have to try this on one of my free days