When it comes to training there are many different philosophies, but most fall into two categories: high volume or low volume. High volume training would be the typical body part split where you do 4 sets of multiple exercises to blast one part of your body daily. Low volume training would include my personal favorite, High Intensity Training.
High Intensity Training Explained
High Intensity Training's fundamentals involve the concept that exercise should be brief, infrequent and intense. By performing training that uses a high level of effort you stimulate your body to increase in both size and strength. With High Intensity Training, as your strength increases the weight you push will progressively get bigger. Because the intensity is so high in these training sessions, they are kept very short (generally under 45 minutes in total length).
Training in this manner is done full body. There are generally no body part splits utilized (although Mike Mentzer did have some body part split routines that used the HIT principles). When training in this manner you will use one set per exercise and take that set to complete failure. It is thought that by training briefly and infrequently your body will recover better.
Recovery with High Intensity Training
When utilizing the HIT principles of training you are never training on consecutive days. There is always at least 48 hours between training sessions. This gives your body an optimum amount of time to recover. To understand the reasoning behind this you have to understand what happens when you train your muscles.
A typical high volume method will have you blasting away at your muscles with a large number of sets. Each set creates micro tears in your muscles. These must be repaired in order for muscle growth to happen. Now think about creating these tears as being equivalent to digging holes in the ground and then having to fill them. The act of filling the holes back up takes energy. Your body is in the same position with high volume training. There is a huge ditch that must be filled. That is why high volume programs only have you train a particular body part once per week. However, with HIT you are not digging as large a hole, so your body takes less time to fill the hole, giving you the opportunity to hit muscle groups more than once a week.
Progression with High Intensity Training
When doing HIT your goal is to either increase the weight from your previous session or increase the repetitions performed. It is a constant competition wtih the previous training session. This forces progressive overload to happen. The strength gains most people see on HIT are tremendous. This is because the load is increased slowly, but steadily. You force your body to push the weight you are using as hard as possible. If you are aiming for 10 repetitions and are able to complete them, you just keep going to failure. This would then be an indication that it is time to increase the load. You continually do this at each training session.
Famous Advocates of High Intensity Training
There were many famous body builders who utilized the HIT principles. Among the biggest names are Dorian Yates, Mike Mentzer, Ray Mentzer, Lee Labrada, Casey Vitor and Sergio Oliva. These men had tremendous physiques.
If you are tired of pushing out set after set of bicep curls I suggest you give HIT a try. I have yet to meet someone who did not benefit from the principles described in HIT.