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What IS HIT?

HIT or High Intensity Training, coined by Ellington Darden, PhD back in the 1970’s, refers to high effort strength training. While effort is central to HIT, this style of training goes way beyond just intensity. Here are some of the primary governing principles of HIT: 


 In this case intensity refers to the effort, not the weight used. In other words, it describes how hard you're working relative to your maximum ability. If you could do 10 reps maximum and you did 8 then you worked at 80% intensity.

It is generally recommended in HIT to train to Momentary Muscular Failure or 100% effort (in perfect form). 


While not exclusively associated with high intensity training, HIT lays out a simple and systematic way to progress. HIT progression is typically based upon the performance of your most recent workout(s). Once you reach certain repetition/time under tension marker with a weight (i.e. 12 repetitions or 90 seconds TUT), you would raise that weight by 2-5% the next time you perform that exercise.


Some lip service had been given to exercise form prior to the advent of HIT. However, HIT/Nautilus training was the first to start defining proper form for every exercise. Form is critical not only for safety but the effectiveness of an exercise. I would consider this the most important principle of all. Without proper form you compromise and confound everything else.


The time you spent working out is also a critical piece of the HIT/Nautilus protocol. As you work out harder, by necessity, you need shorten your workout duration.

“The secret, if there is one, is high intensity. And when you actually train with high-intensity, you don’t need a lot of volume.”   

-Arthur Jones (Inventor of Nautilus)


As with duration, the more skilled you get at working hard, the less frequently you need to workout. In order to recover from the exhaustive effects of exercise, you need to allow the body to rest. One of the biggest mistakes seasoned trainees make is working out too often.


The sequence of exercises plays a critical role in programming. In general your workouts should always start with the largest muscles and finish with the smallest muscles. While there are exceptions to this rule, understand that ALL exercises will have an impact on the exercises that come after it. You should program your priorities toward the front of your workouts.

Less is More

In popular culture there tends to be a more is better attitude toward exercise. Conversely, in HIT we believe that the minimum amount of exercise necessary to produce the optimal result is what you should be aiming for. Any exercise beyond that point becomes counter productive.

Exercise is a stimulus to which the body must first recover from (i.e. replenish the resources used during exercise) before it can even consider positive adaptations. If you do too much and don't allow for recovery, you most certainly won't see the results you're looking for.

In summary, the primary governing principle of HIT are to keep your workouts:





While I have experimented with a variety of training protocols over my 30+ years in the fitness industry, I can confidently say that HIT is the best form of training for almost everyone I have ever worked with.

10 Science Backed Reasons


Strength Train

There are a multitude of science-based reasons you should strength train. Here are just a few:

Helps Slow Down or even Reverse Sarcopenia (age related muscle loss)

Skeletal muscle quality and function decline with age and this is known as sarcopenia. Studies have shown that skeletal muscle mass will decrease at a rate of 1–2% per year after the age of 50, and skeletal muscle strength will reduce by 1.5% at age 50–60, even leading to sarcopenia. This can have dire consequences on our ability to function as we get older. Sarcopenic individuals are highly susceptible to falls and disability, and there is a turning point toward end-stage functional decline. Sadly, in large part, this can be prevented. Current studies have found that resistance training can alleviate age-related skeletal muscle degeneration and improve muscle strength, while also regulating blood glucose, and controlling blood pressure in the elderly.


Increases Resting Metabolic Rate

Strength training can boost your resting metabolic rate, which is the number of calories your body burns at rest. This is because muscle tissue requires more energy to maintain compared to fat tissue. By increasing muscle mass through strength training, you can increase your overall calorie expenditure.

Inactive adults experience a 3% to 8% loss of muscle mass per decade, accompanied by resting metabolic rate reduction and fat accumulation, however research has shown that 10 weeks of resistance training can increase metabolism by 7%.

Reduced Risk of All Cause Mortality

In a review of 16 different studies (meta-analysis) muscle-strengthening activities were inversely associated with the risk of all-cause mortality and major non-communicable diseases including cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes. You are less likely to die of all causes of death if you strength train!

Enhances Fat Burning

Strength training has been shown to promote fat loss and improve body composition. It helps create a calorie deficit by burning calories during the workout and increasing the metabolic rate afterward, leading to fat loss over time.

Research data indicates that active women who participate in habitual physical activity can maintain lower body fat and a higher RMR (resting metabolic rate) than sedentary controls with similar body mass, FFM (fat free mass), and body mass index.

Improves Insulin Sensitivity

Regular strength training can enhance insulin sensitivity, which is crucial for maintaining stable blood sugar levels. Improved insulin sensitivity allows your body to utilize carbohydrates more effectively, reducing the risk of insulin resistance and metabolic disorders.

Promotes Bone Health

Research has shown that not only does HIT strength training improve bone density, but it reduces the likelihood of falls and fractures (Journal of Bone and Mineral Research).

The Study Conclusion:

"The LIFTMOR trial is the first to show that a brief, supervised, twice-weekly high intensity resistance training exercise intervention was efficacious and superior to previous programs for enhancing bone at clinically relevant sites, as well as stature and functional performance of relevance to falls in postmenopausal women with low to very low bone mass. Further, that no fractures or other serious injuries were sustained by any participant in our study suggests that high intensity resistance training does not pose a significant risk for postmenopausal women with low bone mass when closely supervised, despite a common misconception to the contrary. In light of the very positive bone, function, safety, and feasibility outcomes of the LIFTMOR trial, we believe high intensity resistance training to be a highly appealing therapeutic option for the management of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women with low to very low bone mass."

Improve Functional Capacity

Strength training improves overall functional strength, making everyday activities easier and reducing the risk of injuries. It also enhances athletic performance by increasing power, speed, and endurance.

Enhances Cognitive Function

Recent meta-analysis and review studies concluded that strength training benefits functional brain changes and increases cognitive function in both healthy or cognitively impaired adults. Most recently a review and meta-analysis study suggested superior impact of strength training on cognition compared to other modalities such as aerobic exercise in older adults (Daniel Gallardo-Gomez et al., 2022). These benefits happen independent of increased cardiorespiratory fitness (Mavros et al., 2017)

Reduces Symptoms of Depression

Strength training has shown to be very effective at improving symptoms of depression. In a large scale study through JAMA (Association of Efficacy of Resistance Exercise Training With Depressive Symptoms) researcher's reached the following conclusion: “Resistance exercise training significantly reduced depressive symptoms among adults regardless of health status, total prescribed volume of RET, or significant improvements in strength.”

EPOC: The Afterburn

When you exercise at a high intensity you are calling upon anaerobic metabolism (without oxygen) to create the energy necessary (ATP) carry out the activity. The harder you work, the greater the depletion of biologic resources and the more calories you burn after exercise to replenish these resources. This "afterburn', known as EPOC (Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption) has been shown to cause a significant boost to the metabolism which can last for 12-24 hours. The best ways to optimize your EPOC is with HIT (high intensity strength training) and HIIT (high intensity interval training). The beauty of EPOC is that it is optimized by intensity, not volume, and requires less that 30 minutes to achieve the benefit.

Strength training should be an integral part of everyone's weekly routine. You will achieve tremendous benefits in a minimum amount of time (as little as 30 minutes weekly). It is the Fountain of Youth!