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S&C UnderGround >> Mike Mentzer and HIT


11/26/12 6:03 PM
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nrallen
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I've recently been reading through this book but thought it odd that I had never seen it mentioned here - granted I don't read the forum that often.

Are his theories on body physiology and use of energy etc accurate? Every routine I read about here for strength talks about sets, yet Mike Mentzer says anything beyond one set to failure is a waste.

Anyone here used his method? Has it ever been criticised or proven to be wrong? The idea of only training twice a week for such short periods goes against everything I've done to date.
11/26/12 6:52 PM
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Chocolate Shatner
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TAKU is a HIT proponent, if my memory serves me correctly, so he can definitely talk more about this than me, but I'll give my two cents.

Mentzer's ideas, while groundbreaking, are not 100% accurate. At the time of Mentzer's original formulation of his theories, it was common to see bodybuilders (remember, Mentzer is writing from this perspective) use upwards of 30 to 50 sets per bodypart per workout. These long, grueling workouts are just too fucking much for the average person.

That being said, the "ideal" Mentzer workout of 1 working set (after warm-ups) is too little. There are two problems with this. First of all, to sufficiently train that 1 working set, you need to go to "total failure." As Stuart McRobert describes it, total failure can also be called paralytic failure. This means that not only are you at concentric (think pressing) failure, but eccentric (negative) failure as well.

So a total failure set would look like this (let's use a bench press as an example):

Reps 1-6= normal pressing. Heavy, but you're doing it with good form.
Reps 7,8= you're cheating a bit, but still getting the weight up by your own power.
Rep 9= Your partner (and you better fucking have one) helps you.
Reps 10-12= Resisted negatives. You're trying to control the lowering, keeping it at about 7-10 seconds per lowering. You try to assist your partner in pressing the weight back up, but let's face it, he's doing most of the lift.
Rep 13= isometric hold. You hold the fucker at 3/4 to 1/2 press, fighting it until you cannot hold it any more.

Now, from a safety standpoint, just about every rep after rep 6 is increasingly dangerous. Obviously the safety factor is increased if you are using a machine, but then you have to deal with the drawbacks of a machine (fixed groove, lack of stabilizer activation, etc.).

Of course also, some exercises just cannot be done in such a fashion. After all, I don't think anyone in their right mind would think that you could do snatches or cleans in this manner.

The more modern application of HIT can be seen in what Dorian Yates does. He has a video series on bodybuilding.com that demonstrates it. In it, he has the trainees work up to the "all out" set (even then using mostly machines), and then after taking it to concentric failure (think rep 9-10 above), they rack. He then moves on to another exercise that hits the same muscle group, and has them do 2-3 normal sets.

Let's use the bench press example above. So, you work up to your full-out set, do your 9-10, then after 2 minutes you switch over to doing dips or pushups in a normal fashion.


Another problem with Mentzer's ideas, and one that Yates continues, is the concept of the "warm up" sets not being working sets. For example, in one video I've seen of Yates, he's doing Yates Rows, and does the following:

bar x 15
135 x 15
225 x 10
275 x 10
315 x 10
325 x 10
335 x 10 + 4 cheats (the all-out set)
Move on to lat pulldowns.

Now, I don't give a fuck what you want to say, but those sets starting at 315 cannot be called anything but work sets in my mind. Even the 275 set could be called that.

Finally, look at what Yates does. He supposedly hammered his lats (just for example) to HIT failure with the rows, but for some reason feels the need to then move on to doing multiple heavy sets on the lat pulldown. Why? Shouldn't the rows have sufficiently hit the lats, if Mentzer's particular HIT theories are correct?

Even if you look at Mentzer's workouts themselves (if you can find them documented by others, and not Mentzer's own ramblings) you see similar things. Sure, he did one set to failure of one exercise, but then moved on to doing another exercise that trained the same muscle group.

Overall, I like the addition that Mentzer added to the training universe's knowledge, as HIT did move things in the right direction away from retarded-ly long numerous sets. But, Mentzer was off the mark (as for why, well, that can be debated in other threads).
11/26/12 7:08 PM
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Bry Bry
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i remember reading Mentzers stuff back in the day when i first started getting serious about working out..i believe me and my lifting partner tried this '1 set' approach out and after we were done, we just didnt feel it..we either didnt feel like it was enough or we were so conditioned to the idea that we needed to do 6-7 sets per bodypart..i found that i could only take myself so far with one set though...

id like to see how a non-roided person could do with Mentzers rep scheme..i think there is a good reason you dont see people using this method...
11/26/12 7:25 PM
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nrallen
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I became interested because if I workout during my lunch break I get 30-40 mins to fit it all in. So doing multiple sets is very time consuming. If I only get time for two workouts during the week it's hard to hit all body parts.

I thought perhaps this approach would work for me but wanted to find out why I never see anyone using the method or recommending it online.

My favourite exercises are compound so I was hoping to get a good workout without repeating the same exercise over and over...suppose I need to re-think!
11/26/12 7:43 PM
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Chocolate Shatner
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Even with 30-40 minutes, you can still work in a good normal workout. Jim Wendler's 5/3/1 is designed for 30-45 minutes, and you can pare it down to under 30 if you eliminate the assistance exercises (although I don't recommend this except for short periods).

Seriously, break it down to 3 workouts a week. Do the Boring But Big Program, and your chest workout becomes:

Bench (work up to 5/3 or 1)
Bench 3x10
Pushups 2 sets to failure.

You just drilled your chest, triceps, shoulders, and even got some core work in, using a total of 10 sets or so. If you keep your rest time down in the 1 - 1.5 minute range, you can do the whole fucking thing in 20 minutes.
11/26/12 8:18 PM
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Taku
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I am an advocate of what I like to call Evidence Based Exercise. I have read pretty much everything MM has written as well as listened to interviews, lectures and, even spoken to him on the phone. His earlier approach was more like Yates. He would do one or two cycles of heavy sets to failure. Later in his career, Mentzer did not advocate training beyond positive (concentric) failure. He did ultimately move in a direction that for many proves to be just too little volume to be truly effective.

My own experience using MM style of training (both with myself and clients) has proven very effective. Several years ago, I put on 10 lbs of solid muscle in one month using MM style brief, infrequent intense training.

The version I used was a classic push - pull - legs split routines.

Push Day:

Chest Fly supersetted with Incline press - Lateral Raise - Rear delt - Dips - Triceps ext

Pull Day:

Pull-over supersetted with Supinated pull-downs - Row - Shrug - Low back ext - Biceps curl

Leg Day 

Leg ext supersetted with Squat - Leg curl - Calf raise ABs (one set each flexion / ext / rotation)

I trained once every two days (two whole days between workouts). After warm-ups (never more than about 2 sets of the first movement of the day) I would dive right in. I took all sets to positive failure and took as little rest as possible between sets.

At work...I'll chime in  more later.

TAKU

11/27/12 3:54 AM
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Chocolate Shatner
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Yeah right. Like TAKU works. PSHAW! PSSHAW I say!
11/27/12 5:44 AM
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banco
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When I first started lifting I was on a Stuart Mcroberts routine for about 1 year. I think of it now as a wasted year.

I agree with what Pavel says about strength being a skill and think Mentzer was mostly wrong. If you think about when you start doing squats or something for the first time most of the initial gains are neurological (ie your brain getting better at performing the movement). When the neurological gains start topping out your body starts shifting more towards hypertrophy to adapt. It seems like the quickest way to get those initial neurological gains is through practising the movement as often as possible while staying within your recovery limits (that's why Rippetoe's starting strength has you squatting three times a week).

Of course as you get more advanced you have to get a bit cleverer about periodization and not going hard all the time but you can still train a hell of a lot more frequently and with more intensity than Mentzer suggests.

If you look at Doggcrapp (which has some similarities to HIT) it's only recommended for advanced lifters with years of experience (ie people who've accumulated lots of lifts) and the low volume of each session is so that you can train each bodypart more frequently.
11/27/12 7:15 AM
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Leigh
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I think different people respond differently. I certainly find low volume high intensity (like 1-3 reps per week) works for me but some may find it doesn't Phone Post
11/27/12 9:33 AM
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nrallen
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Taku, is each of those listed just 1 set to failure?

So far I've responded well to everything I've tried previously but for past couple years I've been lazy and not followed a programme at all.

I just go in, start with some legs, then follow that with a couple compound exercise then either do biceps or triceps at the end.

I only bought this book because I need something to motivate me and structure my workout a bit better.

I like squats, deads, bench, rows, leg extensions and dips. That's about it. Never read about 5/3/1 but as it's always mentioned I will look into it.

11/27/12 9:58 AM
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vermonter
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I find it to be less effective, less fun, and less interesting than almost any other strength or hypertrophy program, especially for people not on drugs.
11/27/12 10:31 AM
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Out To Lunch
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It doesn't work for me(for long). It makes me hate training.
11/27/12 11:14 AM
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Taku
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Edited: 11/27/12 1:04 PM
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If we talk about training hard. Progressive overload, good form, basic programs using compound exercises...We'll mostly say "Yes, sounds good"!

Say the word H.I.T. and many people lose their minds. It's a simple acronymn that has taken on strange menaings to many. That's why I (and many other coaches) don't use that term much any more.

The idea that it (H.I.T. style training) is only good for people on drugs is just silly. If you put 100 people on the exact same program you will get 100 varied outcomes.

In my experience, having tried pretty much every style of training over the years, simple, targeted lower volume higher intensity training is the safest, most effcient, and effective training method available.

There are many respected coaches who advocate this style of training. Approximately 50% of the NFL trains in this style.

Check out these two great little articles from my blog:

Train Hard <---John Wood from Funtional Hand Strength

More than just words <---Dr Ken

TAKU

 

 

 

 

11/27/12 1:10 PM
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Taku
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nrallen,

yes all work sets taken to the point of positive (concentric) *failure.

*For me this means I can no longer perform another perfect rep.

Example. Barbell Bent-over row. Lets say I'm doing a "YATES" style row (supinated grip). Each time I pull the bar up, I can touch my lower rib cage. When I can no longer reach this point without cheating, The set is done.

Chin-up. When I can no longer pull my chin completely over the level of my hands, I'm done. I don't (for the most part) do a series of 1/3, 1/2, 1/4 reps etc.

I do at time use A.O.T. options to increase the effort. But these are used sparingly.

Hope tha's clear.

TAKU

A.O.T. = Advanced Overload Techniques

11/27/12 1:49 PM
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vermonter
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Taku - 

If we talk about training hard. Progressive overload, good form, basic programs using compound exercises...We'll mostly say "Yes, sounds good"!

Say the word H.I.T. and many people lose their minds. It's a simple acronymn that has taken on strange menaings to many. That's why I (and many other coaches) don't use that term much any more.

The idea that it (H.I.T. style training) is only good for people on drugs is just silly. If you put 100 people on the exact same program you will get 100 varied outcomes.

In my experience, having tried pretty much every style of training over the years, simple, targeted lower volume higher intensity training is the safest, most effcient, and effective training method available.

There are many respected coaches who advocate this style of training. Approximately 50% of the NFL trains in this style.

Check out these two great little articles from my blog:

Train Hard <---John Wood from Funtional Hand Strength

More than just words <---Dr Ken

TAKU

 

 

 

 


Who said that HIT "is only good for people on drugs"?
11/27/12 3:30 PM
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gravedigger
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I followed Doggcrapp's training years ago and it worked big time. But I would cycle it. I would do his sytle of training for 3 months then leave it and go to regular 3x10or 4x10 style of training for 2 months then back to Doggcrapp.
I have gotten the best results doing it that way.
11/27/12 3:38 PM
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Leigh
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I do the same as Taku. Lift to failure but that's it. Sometimes I'll stop before failure if I know the next rep won't go up Phone Post
11/27/12 3:45 PM
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Taku
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Doug,

Bry Bry said "id like to see how a non-roided person could do with Mentzers rep scheme..i think there is a good reason you dont see people using this method..."

Leigh,

Yes, when you have a lot of training experience, and you know that the next one won't go up...That's training to failure in my book.

This one reason why many "Hard Training" advocates enjoy using machines. They can safely go to failure without the need of a spotter. I do a lot of my solo lifiting in a power rack for the same reason. I set the saftey bars at the bottom of the range for a given lift, and then I will do reps until I have no choice but to lower in onto the safety bars.

TAKU

11/27/12 6:57 PM
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nrallen
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thank you everyone.

does the theory that any additional work beyond failure is wasted make sense? it seems to make sense to me, based on what i've read.

i don't see the point in adding more sets/reps if my form suffers or i'm weakened significantly and unable to lift any heavier.

will take a look at the blogs above.
11/27/12 8:03 PM
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Badmonkey
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The "biggest" i've ever been was from using a Mentzer routine much like Taku's, only training every fourth day and rotating upper and lower body each workout.

By "biggest" i mean people thought i was on steroids, i made strength and size gains unlike any other method i had tried. Granted i was 22 at the time, but the extra rest made me squirm with anticipation for the workouts when they came, and i was fully recovered and trained with an intensity that only seemed to come with knowing there was the one shot and it should be an all out effort.

I'm 36 now and train 8-12 exercises for one set to failure in much the same manner. I usually do one warmup set for about 12 reps at half the weight i'm trying to use and then rest a minute or two and hit the one set hard; that amounts to 30-45 minutes of weight training about twice a week... turns out to be about once every 3-5 days depending on my schedule and how i'm feeling.

11/27/12 8:12 PM
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Badmonkey
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nrallen - thank you everyone.

does the theory that any additional work beyond failure is wasted make sense? it seems to make sense to me, based on what i've read.

i don't see the point in adding more sets/reps if my form suffers or i'm weakened significantly and unable to lift any heavier.

will take a look at the blogs above.

When i spoke to MM he told me to add a negative at the end of each set if not super-setting: an example was the pulldown or weighted chin.

He said after i reached failure on the set i should - as quickly as possible and preferably in less than 5 seconds) raise the weight by roughly 30% and (with the help of a training partner) keep a static hold for as long as i could; if i could hold the weight for longer than 10 seconds i should raise the static hold weight next time around.

So he had me keeping track of the weight and reps for each set as well as the time and weight of a heavier hold and negative after the set... i would do this set of pulldowns about once every 10 days in the workout rotation.

He never recommended going to failure on deadlifts because of the chance of losing form and causing injury.

I switched leg presses and squats every other leg workout and they were always supersetted with either leg extensions or leg curls.

Chest press was always supersetted with the fly(fly done first).

Tricep extensions were supersetted with a set of dips

11/27/12 8:20 PM
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Taku
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Edited: 11/27/12 8:21 PM
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nrallen,

In my experience, there is no need to add additional sets beyond this point. The two articles I mentioned from my blog, are s great plsce to start. Dr Ken's article is long, but well worth the read.

Here are some other web-sites to explore:

High Intensity Nation <---This web-site features many excellent audio interviews 

Drew Baye

TAKU

11/27/12 10:11 PM
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diaz 125
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does anyone have a good book that cover this info? im interested and may want to try.
11/28/12 11:57 AM
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Taku
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Diaz 125,

Here are a couple:

Practical Approach to Strength Training

The New High Intensity Training

TAKU

11/28/12 2:11 PM
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Bry Bry
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i never said Mentzers method was only effective for people that were using drugs, i said i would like to see non-drug users use the program for 6 months to a year to see what happens..anytime i see a steroid user recommend any program i take it with a grain of salt..


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