How Much Exercise Should A 12 Year-Old Get Per Day What Is High Intensity Training?

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What Is High Intensity Training?

I first came across the concept of high intensity training from an article by Mike Mentzer when I was pumping iron in the mid 70’s. I actually called it weight training back then.

As a throwback, by then; I had already bought courses from Larry Scott, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Frank Zane and Franco Columbu, to name a few. Being the original geek, I earned every last penny (well, almost every last penny) by washing dishes and pumping gas to buy all the “how to get massive arms…” courses, muscle magazines and protein powder (nasty back then). ) I could lay my hands on it.

Seriously, I was about 5’6″ and weighed less than 130 pounds.

And I was doing up to five exercises per body part for four to five sets per! My workouts lasted at least two hours. I was 15, I was doing what Arnold was doing. Heck, at one point; I wrote to Larry Scott for a “custom” training regimen. My idols did splits twice a day for 6 days a week. I needed to do the same because I couldn’t be the skinny one anymore.

Enter Mike Mentzer and Heavy Duty Training.

Simply put, Mike was telling me (yes, he was talking directly to me, no) that all I needed to do was 1 set per body part, specifically, I needed to do 1 pre-exhaust superset per body part. Hallelujah!!!!

I immediately bought all his heavy teaching booklets. And as a newer acolyte, my training time dropped from 2 hours to 20 minutes.

So what is high intensity training or heavy training?

Simply put, it means fully fatiguing your muscles in the shortest amount of time. Or at least that’s my definition.

Then the shortest space would be 1 set…

Not exactly…

For the late Mike Mentzer, it was 1 pre-exhaust superset…

His pre-exhaustion superset principle was based on the idea that smaller parts of the body would fail before larger muscles during a compound movement. In the case of the bench press, he opined that the triceps and shoulders would fail first, so he would stop the set while the pecs (the target muscle) still had some gas in the tank. Therefore, it pre-exhausts the large muscles; so the larger muscles are temporarily the weakest in the course of a compound movement.

Examples would be:

  • chest – Flyes followed by bench press: Fly the exhaust pectorals, making them weaker than the tris and shoulders throughout the bench. Stronger tris and shoulders would drive the pecs to complete exhaustion.
  • Shoulders – Laterals followed by shoulder presses.
  • Lats – Nautilus pullovers followed by Chin-ups
  • quadriceps – Leg extensions followed by squats
  • hamstrings – Leg curls followed by deadlifts
  • triceps – Stretched triceps extensions followed by a close grip bench
  • biceps – Barbell curls followed by close grip, underhand lat pulldowns

To further push the target body part to total exhaustion (er, beyond total?), Mentzer suggested forced reps on the second exercise, followed by negatives.

Over the years, there have already been many proponents of heavy teaching. Within the bodybuilding universe, the most recognized and successful guru has to be Dorian Yates. I remember an article where Mike Francios quoted Yates as saying, “Shoot 1 bullet to the heart” as a metaphor for doing 1 set versus the traditional multi-set approach.

But I find these kinds of simplistic analogies misleading…

But let’s be clear, I would never question the validity of anything a warrior like Dorian Yates says. He has been the gladiator in the arena for many years putting his money where his mouth is day in and day out. But distilling a training principle down to a simple one-liner doesn’t cut it.

That said, I never definitely thought there was that much daylight in the 1-set crowd plus the multi-set crowd. The 1 set audience tells us to warm up with a couple of sets and go absolutely crazy in set One! Or you can pyramid like this:

  • Set 1 – 12 repetitions with moderate weight
  • Set 2 – 10 repetitions with 10% much more
  • Set 3 – 8 repetitions with 20% much more
  • September 4 – six repetitions at 90% of the maximum
  • Set 5 – 6 reps to failure – all you got.

Is there really a distinction?

Again, let’s consider another example:

With Mentzer’s Heavy Duty program, a chest program can be:

  • Flat bench flies – 2 sets of 12 repetitions, light weights to warm up
  • Incline bar presses – 2 sets of 12 repetitions, light weights to warm up
  • Profelectronic exhaust superset – 1 set of 6 to 8 reps of flyes (max work) followed by 1 set of six reps of incline press (positive reps followed by 2 to three forced reps followed by 2 to three negative reps)

Contrast this with Rusty Moore’s chest routine:

  • bench press – Five games of 12, 10, 8, 6 and 15
  • flies – 4 sets of 12 (very equal weights – rest no more than 1 minute)
  • Incline dumbbell presses – 4 sets of 12 (exactly the same weights – rest no more than 1 minute)

Mentzer believes in total annihilation at maximum effort. Rusty believes in cumulative fatigue to stress and annihilate the muscle. Everyone has their “scientific” research to support their reasoning.

I think neither is wrong. I think it’s really a mistake to discount 1 in favor of another. I think Mike Mentzer’s only flaw was assuming what works for him and his followers must be the only way.

I think the notion of 1 path blurs individuality too often. Most of us won’t be Dorian Yates by any means, so why copy his routines so exactly (go back to the kid who does Arnold’s workout for 2 hours hoping to look like Arnold Korean, no).

For many of us average guys, I think heavy training has more potential to do harm than good. The bench press is much more than just pectorals, shoulders and triceps; are all the ligaments, tendons, accessories, etc. underlying those that support the movement. A few warm-ups, and bang; Jumping into a dead set can’t be good.

But I’m not a scientist, and I don’t pretend to be one on TV. This is about my common sense, which may not be so common.

Which leads me to conclude – with more than a few years behind me – that for many of us; I think a training strategy like Rusty would be the best choice. The pyramid really prepares and sets up the muscle for maximal effort within the last set. The following exercises pump more and more blood into the muscles.

And besides, many of us exercise at home or alone. Heavy serving requires a good training partner who can effectively detect forced reps and negatives.

This does not mean that there is no place for heavy training. You can definitely use it for a month or 2 to hit your muscles. But I wouldn’t

unless of course you’ve been hitting the iron for at least a year and have a good partner.

Finally, high intensity training is less of a training technique for me; rather it is a mindset and a level of effort throughout a workout.

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