People have been posting studies lately about things such as the American Strength college changing their views on Strength Training. These associations recommended 1 set training to failure being superior to multi set training programs. In IRON MANs article below, he has a similar approach and recommends something of a 3-5-7 rep scheme for power lifters and says this is how many top power athletes train.
In the field of muscle science, There has been much more extensive research performed on how to develop strength and none of it involves 1 set to failure or 3 sets to failure. Power lifting and Olympic weightlifters are very critical and precise about their training programs. Many countries view their weightlifters as the pride of their nation in the Olympics. Soviet weightlifters have coaches who are not only experts in human kinetics and the human body but they have been studying and coaching weight lifting for years and have coached tons of athletes to perform fetes such as clean and pressing 500 lbs. over head at a bodyweight of 165 lbs.
Most of the best training information comes for Eastern Block countries and the Soviet Union (not flex magazine and not Mike Mentzer articles). When it comes to strength, speed, and hypertrophy training the Western World is very far behind. This is evident as America or all of North America for the matter has always done very very poorly in international Olympic lifting and power lifting for the most part, hell–sports in general. Please note that we are one of the largest countries and have the most people/athletes to select from.
L. Simmons from West-Side Barbell began to research the methods of these countries; Particularly the methods of the Old Soviet Union. Upon applying these soviet methods to conventional power lifting, his lifts began to explode and his injuries disappeared. He continually refined his system and now he currently has many World Record Holders lifting under his guidance. Bigbyrd, who is a member of this board follows L.Simmons methods and is a world record holder in the squat.
These countries/athletes DID NOT develop these Super human fetes of strenght with Low Volume (at least in terms of what H.I.T programs consider low volume). Neither do they usually train to maxium failure with sub maximal weights in attempt to build maximal strength. A lot of people like to say how West Side builds up to a “max set” and then they compare this to the HIT Method. They are actually building up to 1 RM. more importantly a MAX EFFORT usually over 8 to 10 sets, it is actually much different. This is not the same at all and the only reason the volume is “somewhat low” is because they are working with training percentages above 90%. They work all they way up 100%. More basic power lifters programs and Olympic programs, which use lower percentages, use much more volume. Keep in mind that many of these Olympic athletes are drug tested. Whether or not they use drugs in some point of their training, they still have to pass the test for the Olympic games. Can this be said for most successful HIT strenght athletes?
This article by L.Simmons explains how H.I.T is not a good method for strength. He points out that college athletes who use these methods to strength train always test very poorly at the columbine when trying to go to the NFL. It is not a sports specific training program either. In IRON MANs thread he recommended the program for athletes as well as weightlifters and bodybuilders.
The link below is a very basic training template of West side barbell, it explains the basic concepts of the program, There is MUCH MUCH more involved behind it than this. I just wanted to post this to show that this method does not resemeble HIT as many people compare HIT to this.
I’d like to point out one part that Dave Tate talks about in the above article called the Repetition Method. They use this method to build hypertrophy for supporting muscle groups such as lats, triceps, biceps etc. or for a powerlifting wishing to gain weight. again based off of soviet research. I have interviews by L. Simmons and he goes into this more thoroughly about training muscles for hypertrophy with more exact protocols.
The Repetition Method
The repetition method, otherwise known as the bodybuilding method, is the best method for the development of muscle hypertrophy (growth). This is the method in which all supplemental and accessory exercises are trained. This method is defined as “lifting a non-maximal load to failure.” It’s during the fatigued state when the muscles develop maximal force. According to this method, it’s only during the final lifts that, because of fatigue, the maximal number of motor units are recruited. This system of training has a great influence on the development of muscle mass which is why it’s become so popular among the bodybuilding population. The fact that the final lifts are performed in a fatigued state makes this method less effective compared to the others when it comes to maximal strength development. This is one of the reasons why powerlifters are much stronger than bodybuilders. Another disadvantage of this method is that each set is carried to failure. This makes it very difficult to increase your volume and work capacity over time because of the amount of restoration needed. Training to failure is very hard on your ability to recover and in my opinion should only be used sparingly. When you extend a set to failure many times, the last few reps are performed with bad technique and this, of course, can lead to injuries. Westside has modified this principle to what I refer to as the modified repetition method. With the modified version all sets should be stopped with the breakdown of technique and there should always be a rep or two left in you. Remember this principle is applied to all supplemental and accessory movements. These movements are designed to be exactly what they are: supplemental and accessory. The main goals of these movements are to complement the overall training program, not take away. By training to failure on every set you’d be taking away from the general purpose of the movements, which is to increase work capacity. The parameters of this method are varied and depend upon the individual. Some athletes develop muscle mass with high reps and other with low reps. It would be crazy to assume one specific rep range works for everybody. What we’ve found to be best with supplemental and accessory work are sets in the range of 5 to 8 with repetitions between 6 and 15. This is a rather large range, but as I mentioned before, everybody is different. If you’ve been training for some time, I bet you have a better idea of what works for you than I could ever prescribe. The load or weight to be used should fall in the 60 to 80% range and you should always leave a rep or two at the end of each set. Try to switch the exercise after every one to five workouts in which it’s used. If you decide not to switch the exercise then switch the way it’s trained. Try to add an extra set for a few weeks. Try to work it up for four weeks then deload it for four weeks. The point is to change it up as much as possible.
Modified Repetition Method Parameters
Load (Intensity) 60 ? 80%
Number of Exercises All Supplemental and accessory
Sets / Repetitions 5-8 / 6 – 15
Rest Interval 1 to 3 minutes
Frequency / Week All workouts
Weeks per Exercise 1-5
*NOTEâ€”there are many other methods that have been show to be good for hypertrophy. All of which use some form of volume. Also note that they recommend training just shy of failure or if u do train to failure do not over indulge
There are articles I would like to post on here about hypertrophy, however they are only in PDF format and they are not on the web. Some I have on paper. However, all research that is held with the highest regard illustrates that hypertrophy is accomplished best with larger amounts of Volume (in terms of sets/reps); Focussing on targeting the tissue instead of trying to lift the heaviest load possible. It could be as simple as performing 4 sets of 12.
Regardless of anyoneâ€™s thoughts on HIT of it being the best system or not. It should be noted that absolutely ZERO of the elite power lifting teams or Olympic teams Train in this fashion whether they are seeking maximal strength or trying to build muscle mass.