What is High Intensity Training?
By: Drew Baye
High Intensity Training is resistance training emphasizing a high level of effort and relatively brief and infrequent
workouts, as opposed to performing a higher volume and frequency of workouts with a comparatively low to
moderate effort. Arthur Jones, who invented the Nautilus equipment and helped define and popularize high intensity
training in the 1970's, often summarized the general philosophy of high intensity training as "...train harder, but train
briefer" or "...train harder, but train less often".
The most fundamental principle of exercise is overload. To stimulate the body to produce an increase in muscular
strength and size you must impose a workload on the body over the level it is accustomed to. The harder, or more
intense an exercise is, the greater the degree of overload and the greater the effectiveness of that exercise.
During a high intensity training workout exercises are typically performed with all-out effort until it is no longer
possible to perform another repetition in good form, or what is called momentary muscular failure. An exercise may
even be continued past this point with various partner-assisted techniques such as forced reps, negatives, or
While training to momentary muscular failure is not absolutely necessary to stimulate increases in muscular strength
and size, it ensures one has done all they can for that purpose. Although some people believe regularly training to
momentary muscular failure is too stressful on the body, it is not as long as the volume and frequency of training are
High intensity training methods vary with regards to the specific style, speed, and number of repetitions performed,
however most recommend the use of a level of resistance which allows an exercise to be performed for between 30
and 90 seconds before momentary muscular failure occurs. The most popular example of this is the traditional
Nautilus recommendation to perform 8 to 12 repetitions, lifting the weight in approximately 2 seconds, and lowering in
approximately 4 seconds, which results in a set duration of approximately 48 to 72 seconds.
...But Train Briefer
There is an inverse relationship between intensity and the volume of exercise a person can perform. The greater the
level of effort put into a workout, the shorter the workout must be to avoid overstressing the body. High intensity
training workouts typically last less than 45 minutes, and some "consolidation routines" may take fewer than 10
minutes to complete.
High intensity training methods vary in the number of sets performed per exercise. Most involve only performing one,
all-out set per exercise, while some use two or three sets. The majority of research shows no significant difference in
effectiveness between single and multiple sets for improving either muscular strength or size for the majority of
High intensity training methods also vary in the total number of exercises or sets performed per workout, from as few
as two or three to as high as twenty when neck and grip exercises are included. The appropriate volume of exercise
varies significantly between individuals based on genetics, age, and lifestyle factors such as quality and amount of
nutrition and rest. Athletes or trainees with physically demanding jobs or lifestyles must also balance their workout
volume against the amount of other physically demanding activities they perform to avoid overtraining.
Train Less Often
Intense exercise places a significant amount of stress on the body. Exercising too frequently, without allowing the
body adequate time between workouts to recover, will eventually lead to overtraining and a lack of progress.
The majority of people on a high intensity training program should train no more than three non-consecutive days per
week. More advanced trainees working at a much higher level of intensity or older trainees who's bodies don't
recover as quickly may get better results training less frequently. Most high intensity training methods involve a
starting frequency of two or three workouts per week, which may be adjusted depending on the trainees workout to
General Guidelines for High Intensity Training
The following general guidelines for high intensity training are based on the original Nautilus training principles of
Arthur Jones. These guidelines are also consistent with the current resistance training recommendations of the
American College of Sports Medicine and American Council on Exercise. The specific volume and frequency of
training and exercise selection should be modified to suit the individual, based on their current level of conditioning,
response to exercise, and goals.
1. Training Frequency: Two or three sessions per week on non-consecutive days.
2. Training Volume: Perform between eight and twelve exercises addressing all major muscle groups.
3. Number of Sets: Perform one set per exercise.
4. Number of Repetitions: Use a level of resistance that will allow for the performance of between 8
and 12 slow, controlled repetitions.
5. Progression: Increase the resistance by approximately 5 percent whenever 12 repetitions can be
performed in strict form.
7. Repetition Speed: Move slowly enough to maintain strict control over the movement and to be able
to reverse direction smoothly. Avoid fast, jerky movements.
8. Range of Motion: Use a full range of joint movement.
Machines or Free Weights?
Although high intensity training is often associated with Nautilus exercise equipment due to it's promotion by Nautilus
inventor Arthur Jones, it can be used effectively with any type of equipment. The type of equipment used is not as
important as how it is used.
How to fill out Workout chart
The 12 exercises in this order: Squats, Lunges, Leg Extension, Leg Curl, Calf Raises, Flat Bench, Inclined Bench,
Chest flys, Dips, Tricep Pulldown or Tricep extensions, Bicep Curls, Lat pulldown.
Ab Training: 200 reps (100 weighted sit-ups with dumbbell or weight ball, 50 oblique focused crunches, 50 legups
with the stand or kickups if you have a partner.
Do 2 sets of each exercise and fill in the blanks with the number of reps you reached when you experienced muscle
failure. Max 12 reps. Number should be between 8-12. If you can do more than 12 reps without reaching MF then you
need to increase the weight. TRACK YOUR SETTINGS.
Never lock out an exercise or rest the weight on your body as this takes the strain off of your muscle and defeats the
I want 7-8 second reps 3 sec up and 4-5 sec down.