Classic bodybuilding wisdom dictates that you use low repetition ranges to build size because they target the fast-twitch muscle fibers. While people acknowledge the value of using high repetition sets for muscle endurance and to hit the slow-twitch muscle fibers, they are often not included in any sort of muscle building program.
If you do a set of squats with the maximum weight you can handle for 20 repetitions (which is to failure) is your body not extremely taxed? Along with you leg muscles, more than likely your cardiovascular system has been stressed from the oxygen and blood requirements. How is this not beneficial to overall muscle and strength? Sure a maximum work set of 6 repetitions works different fibers but then you miss out on the other benefits.
Both sets are valuable to the muscle building and fitness process. Because of this people need to learn to not always listen to the older conventional wisdom and instead incorporate more of a scientific method into their training. That involves utilizing more than 1 repetition range in a training program.
The New Method of HIT
In standard HIT training you are doing a single set of each exercise to maximum failure. The idea is to complete a short, brief, intense workout and then get out of the gym to rest, recover, and grow. This same basic idea is used but instead of always going low rep you change the rep ranges each workout to incorporate the use of both fast and slow-twitch fibers.
- Workout A – High Reps 15 to 20
- Workout B – Medium Reps 8 to 12
- Workout C – Low Reps 5 to 8
Ideally you would cycle through A, B, and C each time you did a body part. For some people this might be a weekly change. This also incorporates the idea of cycling into your training but in a minor way. If you wanted to use more of a cycling approach of going from high reps to low as you increase weights you could spread it out over 4 weeks.
- Workout A – 18 to 25 Reps
- Workout B – 15 to 20 Reps
- Workout C – 8 to 12 Reps
- Workout D – 3 to 7 Reps
Is this a more radical idea for the HIT method? Yes, but it also incorporates two standard and well proven methods of muscle and strength growth in cycling and using high repetitions for endurance training. The HIT method was revolutionary in its use when it first came about so any practitioner should be open minded to other methods of training to spur more growth and strength.
Give it a try for two cycles and see what kind of gains you can make.