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Determine the Length of Your Workouts

Evaluate Your Progress

Keep Warm-Up in Perspective


"Doing more exercise with less intensity,"
Arthur Jones believes, "has all but
destroyed the actual great value
of weight training. Something
must be done . . . and quickly."
The New Bodybuilding for
Old-School Results supplies
MUCH of that "something."


This is one of 93 photos of Andy McCutcheon that are used in The New High-Intensity Training to illustrate the recommended exercises.

To find out more about McCutcheon and his training, click here.


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HIT Tip 4: Determine the Length of Your Workouts.
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HIT Tip 4: Determine the Length of Your Workouts.

Generally, there are nine parts of your body that are most often subject to training. These nine are listed as follows:

HIT dictates that you train your entire body one to three times per week (as opposed to splitting it up), and that you perform one to two exercises per body part. Usually the total number of exercises per workout varies from seven to twelve, with more advanced trainees requiring fewer exercises because of their higher levels of strength.

Each exercise should be performed slowly and smoothly for one set of approximately 8 to 12 repetitions. Each set should take from 40 to 90 seconds. There should be no longer than 60 seconds rest between exercises. Thus, a typical workout should take between 20 and 30 minutes.

The next time you?re in the gym, time your workout from the beginning of the first exercise to the end of the last exercise. How long did it take?

If you?re like most bodybuilders, it probably took you well over an hour, or perhaps two hours. And that two hours may have been for only half of your body.

If you are spending more than 30 minutes in the gym actually training, then you are not getting anything close to maximum growth stimulation. You are probably not working hard enough and you are probably resting too long between sets.

Focus your attention on the fact that your exercise is going to become briefer as a result of your increased intensity.

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Dr Darden-

Is there any validity at all using a high time under tension scheme for leg work?

That is to say, is an effective rep scheme for the leg press or leg extension etc,72-120 seconds (12-20 rep range)?

Or should the lower body be trained with the same 40-90 second tut (@8-12 rep range)used for the upper body?


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Dr. Darden.
I've been training in a heavy duty style fashion for several years and have enjoyed good results. After reading your book I've decided to switch to "real HIT training" I started with your first beginner routine a few weeks and have had good progress. However, I feel that I am not ready to train after only one day off between each workout. Should I just progress through it or should I already reduce the workouts to maybe a Mon - Thurs- Sun routine.

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Ellington Darden


Yes, I think you're right. Reduce your frequency slightly.

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I have done HIT in the past but stopped. I have just read your new book "The New High Intensity Training" and started it up again. I have been doing the workouts for about two weeks and am only doing 10 exercises. My workouts only last about 15 minutes.

I try to go from one exercise to the next fairly quick. I usually will set up various machines ahead of time so I can do this (I go to the gym during the off hours).Should I rest a little more between sets? I probably only rest about 30 seconds. I probably am not doing the exercises slowly enough.What do you think? Thanks
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Ellington Darden


If you can make it through your scheduled 10 exercises with an average of 30 seconds of rest after each exercise, you are in very good cardiovascular condition. I'd say keep your rest periods at 30 seconds and try to get progressively stronger on each exercise.

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Dr. Darden, I have just started your new hit and so far I like it. I think I finally get it when you say you can "puke" from a set of curls. When I was training this morning (beginners workout #1), I had to stop after the military press because I started having those burp/coughs right before you get sick. I really would rather not get physically sick while working out. I was taking almost no rest between sets since my workouts are lasting about 35-40 minutes as is. Should I take longer breaks between sets (not to exceed a minute) and slowly reduce rest times from there? Sorry for the long post. Thanks
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Ellington Darden


Yes. Take a little longer between exercises and gradually start reducing the time as you get stronger.

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But why in hit the pause between sets must be very brief?
I tried to reduce pause between sets of different muscles but my weights now are below of 10 % than before I changed.
So why do I have to reduce the pause if when with more time of pause I can pull more weight?
Now my training takes less time, but I pull less than before
Thank you for your answer
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I have started doing exercises in a HIT fashion but because of the equipment i have i am only doing about 6 core exercises.

Over the past weeks not only have my weights been dropping but also my reps. I thought i would have increased my progress since i have also started the creatine cycle. What would you think was the problem, i thought HIT was meant to give growth.
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I have a hard time reaching failure. I do about 10 reps and feel like I can keep going but my form gets bad. I twist my shoulder on the bench press or use my shoulder/chest on the biceps curl. So I normally quit so I don't injure something due to my form going out the window. Should I press on til I can't do anymore and not worry about the form so much? or increase my weight so I fail around 8 reps. instead of the 12 reps. I strive for.
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California, USA

jobbs wrote:
I have a hard time reaching failure. I do about 10 reps and feel like I can keep going but my form gets bad. I twist my shoulder on the bench press or use my shoulder/chest on the biceps curl. So I normally quit so I don't injure something due to my form going out the window. Should I press on til I can't do anymore and not worry about the form so much? or increase my weight so I fail around 8 reps. instead of the 12 reps. I strive for.

NO!, don't press on with loose form. The idea is to do your taget number of reps to failure WITH GOOD FORM. That is my firm opinion.

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Hello Dr. Darden,

I play basketball and have some aspirations to take my game to another level. I am one of the best skill player at my university but not in great physical condition. I want to do HIT but don't know how to incorporate it in with basketball practice, which is primarily 10 hours of cardio a week.

Can you help me incorporate the HIT with my basketball routine?

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Ellington Darden


Depending on how intense your basketaball practices are, I'd recommend that you begin with about 6 exercises and perform them HIT style twice a week. After a month or so, you may need more or less -- again depending on your basketball situation.

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Howard b

I am on my 5th week of HIT and it has
worked wonders, but I have a few
questions to ask you.

1. I work out alone and have not spotter, but I continue to increase my weights when I lift. Should I continue to lift until I can barely do 6 or 8(w/ proper form of course) or settle at a certain #?

2.Since I work out alone, I have to set up all of my weights, and since I work out @ a health club weights are scattered everywhere, leaving me to finish HIT anywhere from 20 to 30 mins. Is this good or bad, and if bad how can I change it?

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Iowa, USA

I'm a 20 year old engineering student. I've been training using various quasi-HIT routines (when i have time) for the last 3 years. My weightlifting partner and myself recently have been very busy and only able to work out about once every 5 or 6 days. My recent routine is listed below.
** 1x20, 1x12 both have 2 sec positive and 4 second negatives. Negative accentuated 2 sec positive 10 sec negative**

Seated Calf (negative accentuated)
Leg Press (1x20)
leg extension (1x20)
Ball Squat (1x20)
Abductor (1x12)
Shoulders(laterall front and diagonal raise 6 reps each)
Shoulder Press (1x12)
Chin-ups (as many as possible/ then 5 negatives)
Rotary Pectoral (20 second positive, hold contracted 20 seconds, then a 20 second negative)
Chest Press (negative accentuated)
Push Up (negative only)
Shrug (8 second hold on the top of the rep)
Manual resistance hip flexion (1x10 each leg)
Ab board abdominals (1x12 with varied manual resistance)
Neck (manual resistance, front/ back)

I would like some intelligent feedback on this program, as it is for me (being a 6'3" 215 pound college student, who is consuming around 2,000-3,000 calories a day). My partner and myself have been concerned with the possiblity of under/over training.

*i've also purchased and read The New HIT*

any helpful responses would be much appreciated (especially by Doc Darden).

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Nevada, USA

Dr. Darden,
I want to put together a HIT maintenance program. Goals are maintaining good strength, and staying trim. I am 65 years old, in good health. I am not a body builder and have no interest in simply increasing my strength forever. A healthy "plateau" would be just fine. I have been doing HIT workouts now for 2 years. I'm uncertain which exercises to use and how often to change them. A plan?
Thanks for your ideas,
Bob Quilitch
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North Carolina, USA

In response to not having someone to give you a spot, I've personally found that after you reach the point of not being able to do another rep, try to do at least 2-3 half reps using the same strict form.

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I just started HIT. I came from a 3 day a week body split doing 2 sets per exercise and taking large rests between each set (Like 4 - 5 minutes).

I always read that taking long rests between each exercise did not matter as long as you hit the weights hard and go to failure.

Now I'm on HIT and I'm having a hard time keeping up. I workout with my girlfriend and we spot each other, so what we try to do is right after she's done, we go onto the next exercise. Most of the time since we're in a gym, it takes FAR longer than 60 seconds to get your partner through their exercise and then get to the new exercise, tear down the weights from some asshole that left all of his plates on the bar and then rebuild it to your level.

It's taking about 3 minutes between each exercise. The longest it took us last night was 5 minutes because my girlfriend didn't judge her potential properly and ended up doing 20 reps on something. Doing 6 second reps, that was 2 minutes, then we had to walk over to the bench, tear down the weights that some guy left on there, rebuild and I took a quick breath (cause Leg Press kicked my ass last night) and got started.

My question is, why would this be a problem and if it is, how can I work around it?? I must workout with my girlfriend as we are both very very influential in how we do in the gym. We really pump each other up and get things going and incourage each other. I can workout by myself as I have done before, but this make the time in the gym much more enjoyable and I have made progress like never before having someone urge me to get that one last rep in and having someone spot me knowing I'm not going to drop the weight on my head/chest.

If we REALLY focus, we can get to the next exercise in 3 minutes. How can we get this done faster? Is 3 minutes rest really hendering our ability to grow and make progress?

I'd appreciate any feedback. I'm truly curious if I'm not doing this right...
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Tennessee, USA


Arthur Jones always said, "4 minutes from the start of one exercise to the start of the next one." Sounds to me like you're OK.

If you're lifting heavy and compound, that's certainly enough to keep the heartrate up!
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Missouri, USA

What do u think about the MAX-OT training style as it does say the right things about the fast muscle fibers and it does has the most potenton or what ever for growth
6-9 sets for all muscle groups and 4-6 reps for all sets going to failure of course!
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Armed Forces - Europe

Today me and my training partner carried out the Intermediate workout 2 (from the New high intensity book) and it was the most exhausting workout i have ever experienced. I use to train Heavy Duty the Mentzer way and got my deadlift up to 365 lb for 10 reps at a body weight of 185 lb, so i have some experience with HIT.

My question is this, i completed the routine today in a little under 40 mins. I reckon as it was the first time i under took the routine that i'll be able to reduce to 35 minutes next time. Is this still too long? I have a training partner and by the time i have completed my set, i spot him and then go to the next exercise; thats about 2-3 mins. Is this quick enough to induce growth?
Many thanks!

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I am new to training, just completed my second week of the HIT beginner routine 1. My workout using free weights at home is taking 45 minutes. I am doing each rep very slowly, at least 10 seconds each, and changing setups takes up to 2 minutes between exercises. I also added side bends and reverse wrist curls to the routine as these muscles didn't seem to figure enough in the basic routine.

It seems that I'm moving quickly enough through the routine but are 14 exercises too many?
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How are you Dr. Darden. im a little under six feet tall and only weigh 130 pounds. Do you think working three times a week is to much for a hardgainer. and should i cut out exercises like leg extensions and stick to squats for example
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Florida, USA

I have your book on the Bowflex Body Plan, but I have just purchase the Bowflex Revolution. I am having problems matching the power rod exercises to the Revolution. Do you have any suggestions? I am 75 and doing Ok, but not a body builder. I want to keep going as long as possible.

Please write a book on the Revolution.
I also have your books on the Nautilis diet I bought back in the late 1980's when I was going to a gym with Nautilis equipment.

I still follow some of your recipes from that book. I also have your Nautilis Book. Are there any similarites in the Nautilis equipment technology and the Bowflex Revolution? The Revolution has uses a cam also.

Any assistance would be greatly appriceiate.
Thanks for your commitment to helping concerned about improving their bodies.
George Messmer
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