Opinions are divided when it comes to the topic of intensity. Like many other arguments in bodybuilding, all the different schools of thought have their convictions rested on their own result-driven formulas. But never has the topic of intensity been discussed so fervently than when one Mike Mentzer stepped into the spotlight. Before his moment in the sun came to be, the belief was in low intensity with the idea being to hit a muscle hard with as many as 20 reps for every exercise. But here stood Mike with such enviable density to the muscles in his back arms and legs. He was a sight to behold. Surely he must have been doing something right. And he was. He called it high intensity training, and it became the gospel that he preached right until the curtains fell.
It is human to believe that more is better. It applies well in many things in life, but not in bodybuilding. Mike Mentzer advocated for the very opposite – that less is more, when the volume is adjusted. He crafted this into a heavy duty program that is now commonly known as High Intensity training.
The Mike Mentzer workout, therefore, emphasizes on high volume and low reps, ideally in the range of six to nine. He was of the opinion that if you are going to load a bar, you should only be all out by the time you are hitting your sixth rep.
It is a training philosophy that Dorian Yates, one of the greatest bodybuilders, followed all the way into their legendary status. They demonstrated that the method works, and perhaps it can work for you too.
The Mike Mentzer high intensity workout insists on 3 sets of exercises for muscle group. This allows you to seriously hit said group. You end up spending less time in the gym, and more time recovering, which is how you put on size.
The workout shields from overtraining. Since it is built on short, intensive workouts, their bodies remain in an anabolic state when they leave the weight room, preventing the loss of precious muscle.
One other interesting aspect of the workout is that it de-emphasizes the need for many warmup sets. Whereas many bodybuilders believe in pyramid sets, the Mike Mentzer workout builds on a simple objective – to use as much of the muscle as possible, as early as possible. Thus, after the muscles are warmed up and there is enough blood in circulation, the next set should be the heaviest one. You do not build up to the heaviest set, you go straight to it.
Mike Mentzer’s workout does make a lot of sense. But it is not without its shortcomings. It is not ideal for beginners, it increases the risk of injury when you are always hitting the heaviest sets, and it does not build muscular endurance. Regardless, HIT yields results and helps you get more muscle mass much faster. For a competitive bodybuilder, this is the most important thing.
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