HIT, because of it’s relatively early association with Arthur Jones, Dr. Darden, and Nautilus, will, in the minds of many, forever be linked to training with machines. However, HIT is no more wed to the use of machines only, than it is to these individuals. Any training modality can and should be used in a high intensity manner.
Arthur once told me “there are few things more difficult to do in the gym than squats and stiff-legged dead-lifts, if done properly” I could easily amplify that to “there are few things more difficult to do in one’s life than squats and stiff-legged dead-lifts, if done properly!” High intensity principals are just that—principals to be applied to many situations and all training modalities. Interestingly, the individuals involved in the prototype procedures in the early days of Nautilus, those who had input to many machines, shared an interest and enthusiasm for strength that truly led to the development of equipment that was revolutionary and exciting. Gary Jones, Kim Wood, Tom Lputka, Scott LeGear and others built upon Arthur Jones concepts and machines suggestions, to produce strength-training equipment that was very different.
Because the early machines were so effective, their coupling to high intensity principals was a natural. But this is not to say that the interested trainee should have ignored the barbell or other available equipment. Unfortunately, the usage of such apparatuses was often misapplied. If Nautilus machines were available, one would often use them for one set of very intense training. If not, they would use barbells and other machines in a “conventional,” multi-set manner. In time, with the proliferation of other machine companies, many trainees continued to adapt the “one-set, all out” method to any and every machine, while doing pyramids, periodization cycling or max singles and doubles with the bar.
Needless to say, a training principal, any effective principal, can and should be applied to whatever modality that is available. The barbell is not a “different” means of building strength than a machine, at least not to the musculature. Certainly, some machines may offer an advantage that a barbell does not; and again this was the advantage of most of the Nautilus machines produced in the company’s first few years. Yet, anything from sand-bags to $10,000 computerized machines can be used to get bigger and stronger. It is erroneous, stupid and self-limiting beyond words to apply one set of principals to a bar and another to a machine. That smacks of much more than confusion; yet, a cursory look at most college strength training programs often reveals that barbell curls will be done for sets of “10-8-6 reps” and that Nautilus curls will be used for “1 x 12.”
What it is
“What It Is” happens to be a very popular expression in our neighborhood, denoting exactly what’s occurring, words or thoughts of wisdom and a manner of doing things in a sensible way. Relative to high intensity training, it is no more than a guideline for safe, efficient and productive training. Simply put, one must make up his mind to become bigger and stronger. The next step is to think about that conviction. Of course, I’m immediately reminded of my father’s words “some people think they want something and others really want it.” Kevin Tolbert and I have seen and heard literally a thousand athletes, lifters or bodybuilders state “I want to be big, I want to improve and I’ll do anything that has to be done.” After one, two or perhaps a half-dozen properly performed strength training workouts, these well-disciplined, dedicated, burning-with-desired individuals are history, having decided that doing “anything” does not include training in a manner that would be deemed as “hard.”