Principles of High-Intensity Training
- Never train any muscle group on consecutive days. High-intensity training requires that the body have time to rebuild. Every muscle group should have at least 48 hours to recover following a high intensity workout. If the body is not provided with adequate recovery time, then muscle destruction instead of muscle size increase might occur.
- Move the arm, leg or whichever joint is working through the full available range of motion. For example, an arm curl would start from the fully extended position and would end fully flexed.
- Use proper technique. Allow the muscles to raise and lower the weight, do not bounce, throw, jerk, or drop the weights. Ask facility staff for specific instruction.
- Emphasize the eccentric contraction (lowering the weight). A muscle is approximately 40% stronger during an eccentric contraction (during the lowering of the weight). This means that even though a lifter cannot lift the weight anymore without the assistance of a spotter, the lifter can still perform negative repetitions (lowering the weight) if the spotter assists with the lifting portion of the exercise. This allows maximum intensity and brings the muscle to momentary muscle failure.
- To stimulate muscle enough to cause adaptation, the muscle must be brought to failure. Momentary muscle failure is achieved when another repetition can no longer be performed properly. High-intensity training maximizes this effect by asking the person training to go beyond what is perceived as his or her physical limit. Once positive failure is reached (the ability to lift the weight alone), the lifter should concentrate on the negative or lower phase of the repetition by using a 6- to 8-second count as the weight is lowered.
The spotter's main purpose is to prevent injury and to allow the lifter to maximize the negative repetitions by assisting with failed positive portion. The spotter should assure that the lifter is using proper form and technique and should also provide encouragement and feedback.
Little rest between sets is needed. Lifters should move directly from exercise to exercise with minimum time between sets. The method of performing a pushing exercise and then a pulling exercise is effective in limiting rest time between sets. It allows the push muscles time to recover, yet intensity remains high.