High Intensity Training: HIT Workouts to Efficiently Build Muscle & Strength 

H.I.T., or High Intensity Training, has become quite a "buzz word" in the fitness industry, particularly amongst bodybuilders looking to manage their time and still get good results from their training. However, there exists a need to actually define H.I.T., because it can mean different things to different people.

Basically, HIT is a type of training style that focuses on completing a limited number of sets for a limited number of exercises under loads that are in excess of 60% 1RM(1-rep maximum) taken near failure, with a controlled training frequency.

Note: High intensity training is one of our favorite concepts for building muscle, especially when combined with 3 other unique training methods to form an optimal way to build a balanced physique...

Quick Tip: The fastest way to build lean muscle is to focus on a hypertrophy(muscle growth) specific, well-structured workout program that scientifically plans all of these things for you: 1) volume, 2) intensity, 3) frequency, 4) progression, 5) exercise selection, 6) periodization & MUCH more...

 Discover the Secrets to Developing a Perfectly Balanced, Ripped Physique (95% of Gym Rats Have No Clue About This)

So now that we have the term HIT defined, here are some general guidelines for High Intensity Workouts...


A typical HIT workout is done 3x a week, and people who are time crunched can still see results while training only 2x a week. However, since the overall volume of a HIT routine is relatively low, its better to do 3 workouts a week to see positive improvements in body composition, strength and conditioning.

With 2 workouts a week, results may be slower but you can still make good progress by really making those sessions count, which means train with as much intensity as you can on each set. After a period of time, however, you'll find that frequency of your workouts needs to increase to continue seeing positive changes in your body.

Training Guidelines

  • Since the total number of exercises is limited, choose compound movements that work multiple muscle groups to give you the most "bang for your buck".
  • The total number of exercises per workout is limited to 10-12, and the total number of sets is limited to 12-24. Stick with 4-6 exercises for the lower body and about 6-8 exercises for the upper.
  • Typically, HIT workouts train the entire body multiple times a week. Advanced versions employ training splits (working different muscle groups on different days). With full body workouts, the overall volume(sets x reps) per muscle group per session is low, so frequency of training is increased.
  • Aim for 15-20 repetitions per set in the beginning, gradually moving down to 8-12 reps and then 6-8 reps as you progress through the weeks. Choose a weight that doesn't allow you to complete any more than your chosen reps with proper form (in other words the last rep should be near failure).
  • Minimize rest times between sets and begin with the large muscle groups first, moving down to the smaller muscles through the workout. This will build up your conditioning and allow you to have the most energy for the toughest exercises in the beginning.
  • Warmup adequately before the workout with dynamic stretches. Also, perform a few light warmup sets on each muscle group to get the blood flowing.
  • Control the eccentric(lowering) portion of each rep and be somewhat explosive on the concentric(lifting) portion to stimulate the different type of muscle fibers.
  • Ensure proper form on each exercise. Its a good idea to learn the technique with lighter weights first and to receive instruction on each lift before you start a routine.
  • In order to progress, aim to either increase the number of repetitions on a given load or increase the loads from week to week. In either case, never sacrifice proper form and train with safety in mind.
  • Train 2-3 times a week, keeping a journal of your dates, loads, repetitions, sets, etc.
  • Free weight are always a good choice, but machines and exercise bands can also work well if they provide sufficient resistance.

Sample Full Body High Intensity Workout

*Warmup first with dynamic stretches and some light lifts
Incline Dumbbell Press: 1 set x 15 reps
Barbell Rows: 1 set x 15 reps
Chest Flye: 1 set x 15 reps (this exercise is optional)
Military Press: 1 set x 15 reps
Lat Pulldown: 1 set x 15 reps (this exercise is optional)
Barbell Squat: 1 set x 15 reps
Stiff-Legged Deadlift: 1 set x 15 reps
Barbell Curl: 1 set x 15 reps
SkullCrusher: 1 set x 15 reps
Leg Press: 1 set x 15 reps (this exercise is optional)
Seated Calf Raise: 1 set x 15 reps

Perform this workout every alternate day for a total of 2-3 times a week. Keep your rest times low between sets. Alternatively, you can choose to do different exercises for each muscle group on Day 2 or Day 3 of the week, but keep the sequence the same as above.

To progress, slightly increase the weight on each exercise each week, until you reach the 6-8 repetition range. At that point, you can gradually start adding a 2nd set for selected exercises until you've doubled the volume.