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Whole-Body H.I.T. Blitz

Go low in volume and insanely high in intensity for more muscle and less fat with this 5-day routine.

Whole-Body H.I.T. Blitz

One letter can make a big difference. This is not another HIIT cardio article. Drop one of the ‘I’s and that’s what we’re talking about here: H.I.T.

High-Intensity Training.

With my recent Giant Program routines, I showed you a high-volume way to hit each major muscle group in every full-body workout. You were essentially doing four exercises for four total sets per muscle group each time out. This approach could classify as “HVT” (high volume training).

H.I.T., on the other hand, is lower volume and higher intensity. On a per-workout basis, you’re hitting just about the minimum amount of volume possible for each muscle group: one warm-up set and one working set. That’s it.

But here’s the rub: The one working set isn’t a typical straight set. It’s a multiple-times-to-failure, drop-setting, rest-pausing, all-out muscle-burning barrage. But don’t worry, once the set’s over, you’re done with that muscle group!

Like HVT, H.I.T. is great for promoting muscle mass and strength and also sparking fat loss. It just does so via super high-intensity, not volume. If you’re short on time but still want to get in a brief yet effective muscle-building workout, H.I.T. could be right up your ally.

When fueled with proper nutrition and supplements, high-intensity can equal fast results.

H.I.T. Background

H.I.T. is a method based on the one-set training concept popularized decades ago by Arthur Jones, the founder of Nautilus, and former pro bodybuilder Mike Mentzer. Other bodybuilders that adopted this training method include Casey Viator, Lee Labrada, and Dorian Yates.

The essence of the H.I.T. method is twofold: very high intensity and very low volume.

>>Intensity: Although many H.I.T. followers use very heavy weight and low reps, H.I.T. isn’t just about the weight used, but about training beyond the point of absolute muscle failure. Every set must be taken beyond failure for the technique to work. This requires the use of advanced training techniques. With my H.I.T. protocol, these techniques include drop sets, rest-pauses, and either cheat reps or forced reps.

>>Volume: The reason H.I.T. calls for only one working set (instead of, say, 2-3 sets) per exercise is based off this underlying theory: If multiple sets of an exercise are performed, every set cannot be trained with maximum intensity. By doing one, and only one, set of an exercise, you have a better chance of training with maximal intensity on every working set.

Another element of H.I.T. that Mentzer, Yates, et al., subscribed to was low frequency. Meaning, every muscle group got trained no more than one time per week to allow for adequate recovery from the brutally intense working sets.

My version of H.I.T., of course, involves full-body workouts, up to five of them per week. So obviously, I’m violating the low frequency H.I.T. law. But consider these factors:

(1) When Yates, for example, did H.I.T. workouts, he did multiple exercises for each bodypart every week; in my version, you’re only doing one exercise per muscle group per workout.

(2) Yates also did more than just one warm-up set for the first exercise or two per bodypart – typically 2-3 warm-ups set. And his warm-up sets weren’t always easy; in fact, most of Yates’ warm-up sets would have been considered challenging working sets for the average gym-goer. In my H.I.T. workouts, the one warm-up set is truly an easy priming set.

H.I.T. Science

There’s no research to specifically support the theory of H.I.T. However, the science that underlies it is sensible. Basically, it relies on muscle growth through the mechanism of muscle damage and regeneration.

Although science still knows little about precisely how muscles grow, there are two plausible theories that seem to both contribute to muscle growth. The first mechanism involves damaging the structure of a muscle cell (muscle fiber) with mechanical stress, such as heavy weight. The damaged muscle cells kick off a regeneration process that ends up with newer, stronger muscle cells replacing the damaged muscle cells.

Anecdotal reports from bodybuilders who have used H.I.T. training are varied. Some report considerable gains in both size and strength. But for many, the initial progress soon comes to a halt. The reason some have failed with H.I.T. training is likely due to the one problem that all training programs have: If you follow it for too long, your progress is likely to come to a screeching halt.

Instead of sticking with just one training philosophy, like H.I.T., you should embrace a plethora of training programs and cycle them frequently. This is precisely why I’ve been recently giving you a new training technique every week or so in the form of a week-long (or less) routine (Giant Program 2.0, Power Pyramid, 5-System, etc).

Hit the H.I.T. Blitz for a week, then move on to something else.

H.I.T. Blitz Briefing

The H.I.T. protocol that I’m outlining here can be performed up to five days a week.

In each workout, you’ll train all major muscle groups. For me, this means chest, back, legs, shoulders, traps, triceps, biceps, forearms, calves and abs, typically in that order.*

*Time-saving tip: If you’re on a tight schedule and need to shorten the workout, feel free to drop one or more of the smaller bodyparts, like traps, forearms, calves, and/or abs.

As I mentioned earlier, you’ll do one exercise per muscle group, with one warm-up set and one working set for each exercise. Here’s exactly how those sets will look:

Warm-Up Set

Using 50% of your estimated 3-6RM, do anywhere from 5-7 reps, stopping well short of failure. Rest 1 minute or so, then move onto your working set.

Working Set

1) Using your 3-6RM max, rep out to failure (3-6 reps)

2) Rest 10-20 seconds, then pick up that weight again and go to failure (rest-pause).

3) Immediately lighten the load to your warm-up weight (50% of 3-6RM) and go to failure again (drop set).

4) Rest 10-20 seconds, then pick up that lighter weight again and go to failure (another rest-pause set).

5) Without resting, finish the set with either cheat reps (allowing a little “body English” to help you get a few more reps) or forced reps (having a partner help you get 2-3 more reps after reaching failure; or, if you’re training alone but doing a one-arm dumbbell exercise, using your non-working hand to help you get the forced reps.

You’re done with that exercise. Rest 1-2 minutes or as little as you like and move onto the next muscle group.

Exercise Selection

You can use virtually any exercise for H.I.T. – compound (multijoint) exercise, single-joint moves, free weights, machines, cables, you name it. In fact, machines will work well for these H.I.T. workouts because they’re usually conducive to both drop sets (because decreasing weight is a simple matter of moving the pin up the stack) and rest-pauses (because you can quickly and easily rack the weight, rest briefly, then pick it back up).

Consider changing up the muscle group focus from one workout to the next. For example, if you did wide-grip lat pulldowns in workout 1, which target the upper lat muscle fibers and teres major, you should do an exercise that better targets the lower lats, like reverse-grip rows, in the next workout.

The primary way that H.I.T. works to instigate muscle growth is by causing muscle damage, which requires new muscle nuclei to be transported to the damaged muscle. More muscle nuclei helps to build more muscle. Therefore, when it comes to exercise selection from one workout to the next, you should try to focus on different areas of the muscle. Once you damage a muscle fiber, it gains a protective mechanism to prevent further damage, so there's no point in repeatedly trying to damage the same muscle fibers.

As you'll see from the below workouts, muscle focus in each major muscle group will change from workout to workout. H.I.T. doesn't just boost muscle growth via muscle damage; it's very fatiguing to muscle fibers as well. So don't stress if you're hitting the same muscle fibers in the muscle group.

H.I.T. Blitz Workouts

Similar to what I did with the last few techniques (Giant 2.0, Power Pyramid, 5-System), I've designed five full-body H.I.T. workouts for you to follow, involving a variety of different exercises and equipment. These are the same ones I put up on Facebook recently, but with them here on JimStoppani.com you'll be able to download them all to your mobile device to take to the gym with you. Plus, it will be good going forward for you to have all of these workouts in one place.

That one place is right here! Below are the five Whole-Body H.I.T. Blitz workouts. As you can see, I've listed only the names of the exercises; the sets and reps for all exercises will follow the protocol I described above in the "Warm-Up Set" and "Working Set" sections.

Workout 1

In this first workout, I hit a number of meat-and-potatoes exercises with the H.I.T. protocol – nothing fancy here, just intense sets performed on tried and true moves using a variety of equipment (dumbbells, barbells, machines). This serves as a nice introduction to the H.I.T. technique.

Reverse-Grip Dumbbell Press (upper pecs)

Lat Pulldown (upper lats)

Front Squat (quad focus)

Dumbbell Lateral Raise (middle delts)

Barbell Shrug (upper traps)

Seated Calf Machine (soleus)

Standing Dumbbell Overhead Triceps Extension (triceps long head)

Preacher Curl (biceps short head)

Behind-Back Wrist Curl (wrist flexors)

Smith Machine Hip Thrust (lower abs)

Workout 2

This routine focuses on different areas of the muscle fibers than were trained in Workout 1. For example, I did reverse-grip dumbbell press for upper pecs and wide-grip pulldowns to hit the upper lats in Workout 1. Here, I move to dumbbell flyes to hit the middle/outer pecs and seated rows for lower lats.

Dumbbell Flye (middle pecs/outer)

Seated Row (lower lats)

Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift (more hams)

Face Pull  (rear delt)

Straight-Arm Pushdown (lower traps)

Cable Standing Calf Raise (gastrocnemius/medial head)

Rope Triceps Pressdown (Triceps lateral head)

Behind-the-Back Cable Curl (Biceps long head)

Dumbbell Reverse Wrist Curl (wrist extensors)

Weighted Crunch (upper abs)

Workout 3

In this routine, I move the focus again on each muscle group. For example, with chest, Workout 1 hit upper pecs with a compound movement (reverse-grip dumbbell press). In Workout 2, I switched the chest focus to middle/outer pecs with a single-joint movement (dumbbell flye). Here, I switch the focus to the lower/inner pecs with high cable crossovers. This same concept applies to all muscle groups.

High Cable Crossover (lower pecs)

Standing Pulldown (upper/lower lats)

Dumbbell Reverse Lunge (hams/quads)

Standing Arnold Press (front/middle delt)

Incline Prone Dumbbell Shrug  (middle traps)

Dumbbell Seated Calf (gastrocnemius/medial head)

Reverse-Grip Triceps Pressdown (Triceps medial head)

Dumbbell Hammer Curl (Brachialis/Biceps long head)

Standing Cable Wrist Curl (wrist flexors)

Oblique Cable Pushdown (obliques)

Workout 4

In this session, I alter muscle focus through varying movements yet again. This way, you maximize the amount of muscle fibers damaged and fatigued. Over the course of five days, you should have annihilated most muscle fibers in every muscle.

Bench Press (middle pecs)

Straight-Arm Pulldown (lower lats)

Diagonal Step-Up (quads)

Dumbbell Upright Row (front/middle/rear delt)

Dumbbell Shrug (upper traps)

Dumbbell Standing Calf (gastrocnemius)

Lying Triceps Extension (triceps long/lateral head)

High Cable Curl (biceps short head)

Dumbbell Reverse Wrist Curl (wrist extensors)

Woodchopper (core/obliques/abs)

Workout 5

The final Whole-Body H.I.T. routine switches focus up once again by alternating between exercises that focus on different areas of the muscles and by swapping between multi-joint and single-joint exercises. If you've been doing these workouts on consecutive days, with this being your fifth day training in a row, definitely take the next couple days off from the gym to recover and be fresh for whatever you tackle next.

Cable Incline Flye (upper/inner pecs)

Wide-Grip Barbell Row (upper lats)

Squat (quads/hams)

Barbell Shoulder Press (front/middle delt)

Behind-Back Smith Machine Shrug (upper/middle traps)

Leg Press Calf Raise (gastrocnemius)

Close-Grip Bench Press (triceps lateral head)

EZ-Bar Curl (Biceps long and short heads)

EZ-Bar Wrist Curl (wrist flexors)

Cable Crunch (upper abs)

Download The Workout


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