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Mike Mentzer had one of the sharpest minds in the muscle game. And Mike was the physical proof that High Intensity Training also called HIT does work well enough to create the best physique. Even today Mike is considered to have had one of the greatest builds of all time and validated once and for all HIT.
Mike's HIT approach became even more extreme in his latter years. He tightened up the training and lengthened the time period for rest and recovery, in effect consolidating the training down to a very bare minimum. He purportedly was able to put 50 pounds on one of his trainees in just a few months using a workout that lasted only 2-4 minutes, with a long recovery time between workouts (4 to 7 days recovery. The workouts consisted of just two exercises each, with the first containing deadlifts and dips, and the second containing just squats and lat pulldowns.
The pros of this type of training are obvious – more time off to allow the body to rest and recover. The minimalist workouts also provide benefits in that more focus, concentration and energy can be put into the exercises since the body won't deeply use them up in just a couple of sets. Mike was smart in using compound movements like the deadlift, dip and squat to make the most of the minimal time he recommended. And his pairing of the exercises is brilliant as well.
The cons of this routine are also obvious – not enough direct work on specific muscle groups. For instance, some muscles only obtain secondary stimulation, if that. The biceps receive no direct training in this workout, and the triceps have only one set of dips to hold them for the next week or so. The volume in the consolidated workout is extremely low.
It is also hard for some trainees to summon the intensity necessary to make the workout successful in only a single set. Mike could as he had years of training behind him, and he could also train others this way. However, he is no longer available, and most people have to make do on their own.
Finally, there is the research (National Strength & Conditioning Association) which shows that multiple sets are better for producing muscle gains than are single sets, which were found to be good for maintaining but not as hot for gaining.
The one upside for the consolidated training is that it did work for at least a few of Mike’s direct clients.
Note: For more information on on the best form of High Intensity Training see The Colorado Experiment Workout
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