In the recent years, overtraining gradually became sort of a trend in the world of fitness.
Moreover, there are some people out there who don’t hesitate to boast around with the results of overtraining. You can see them pushing themselves to the outer limits, doing reps upon reps, sets upon sets of the same exercises. Always in motion, always straining their muscles to the fullest. Although the modern notion of life may project this approach as normal, overtraining can have adverse effects on your workout, making it far less efficient in terms of muscle gains.
Although hard training is still necessary if you want to trigger muscle growth, continuous hard training may hinder the growth as the muscles need time to heal after workout if you want to achieve development of muscle fibres. When you over-train the muscles, you also deplete them of the necessary nutrients and water, but also of the growth hormones which are needed for muscle development. As a result, instead of growing the muscles break down. That’s why you need to provide them with time to heal. This will result in stronger and tighter muscles.
However, this process of constantly creating micro-tears in your muscles and repairing them in order to achieve growth is not infinite. After a certain point it too can begin to misfire, leading to stagnation in the muscle growth. Hitting this physical limit often results in disappointment with the training method and it’s not unusual that people give up at this point. Some, on the other hand, choose to hit it even harder completing the full circle to overtraining.
Naturally, there is a solution to this problem. It’s called High Intensity Training (HIT), and is different than the High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). This training method was popularized in the 1970s by the founder of Nautilus, Arthur Jones, and it relies on quality repetition until total muscle failure.
High Intensity Training basically involves:
- Only one set of each exercise until momentary muscular failure
- No more than two sessions per body part each week
- Short workout sessions of no more than 30 minutes
- Controlled but intense reps
In other words, the underlying principles behind HIT is that the exercises should be performed with great intensity for a short period and with greater rest periods. This is thought to recruit more muscle fibres and stimulate the muscle growth the best. One of the most important aspects is the recovery period. The rest period is crucial for faster muscle growth.
The three main factors for proper utilization of HIT are: good form and technique, focus on the exercises and sufficient recovery period.
Form and Technique
If you fail to maintain proper form you greatly reduce the effect of your workout and you can miss on the desired results. In other words, all your training can amount to nothing. The precision in execution is absolutely crucial if you want to rip the full benefits of this technique, which is based on braking down the fibres and allowing their recuperation, after which they become leaner and stronger.
A number of studies have underlined the increased efficiency of lower reps when it comes to building muscle size and strength. With HIT, you get to do 6-10 reps in a single set, using 70% of your one rep max. At the same time you concentrate on performing the movements in controlled and correct manner. When you perform reps until momentary failure, you force the muscle to adapt themselves, building up strength for future increase in reps and weight. Keeping the proper form is absolutely crucial if you want your body to improve.
One of the most important aspects of HIT is the focus on your movement. When you are training in the gym you must always keep your mind on what you are doing. By concentrating on the precise movement, you don’t only hone you physique, but also work on you mental stability. This may prove crucial during the most demanding trainings, when your determination becomes your most powerful weapon.
Not allowing your body with sufficient time to recover after a demanding workout is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. The ability for growing muscle fibres for improved strength and size of your muscles is written in our genes. However, not all of us recover with the same speed. Studies have shown that it’s best to sleep at least 7-8 hours every night. They also point out that providing your body with longer periods for rest and recovery between two high intensity trainings can stimulate the growth and strength. That is why with HIT you exercise each muscle group only once a week. This allows longer recovery period which results in increased muscle growth, and avoiding to hit the limit. By pushing your muscles to momentary failure, they develop a greater ability to overcome the future strains.