Customer Review

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This method works measurably, 5 Aug. 2013
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This review is from: Body by Science: A Research Based Program to Get the Results You Want in 12 Minutes a Week (Kindle Edition)
I have been using the HIT method described in body by science for over 12 months on and off. I am 55 years old travel a huge amount and have an interrupted training routine but I have approached this method scientifically and I have the results to show it works.

To do HIT you need the following:

* The willpower and the discipline to follow the method exactly
* A piece of paper and pencil
* A small, cheap clock with a second hand
* A water bottle with 2 tablespoons of sugar in a pint (half litre) of water

I measure every HIT session in a table: weight and seconds columns for each exercise along the top and the five exercises along the side (plus a couple of extra exercises I do because I like them). At the start of the first 15 weeks I recorded my absolute, muscle-straining maximum weight in each of the 5 exercises. Then I performed the routines exactly as described by the book and wrote down the results each week.

At the end of 15 weeks I had increased my maximum strength between 60 to 120% in the exercises (the leg press was the best and the pull-down the "worst" probably because the grip wasn't correct). My wife noticed a change in my body structure and my waist size decreased to the point where I could wear 15-year old jeans hidden away in my cupboard. On the leg press I am approaching the maximum of the gym machine itself and on the upward press I can do maximums which guys literally 50% bigger than me can't do. I weigh 68 kg (150 pounds) so I am not a huge muscular type.

I had reached the point where I was now training at the weights I had previously recorded as maximums! This was surprising. Before HIT I was reasonably active, playing tennis or squash once a week and mountain biking 2 hours every two weeks or so. I wasn't overweight and I have a slim frame, yet my strength really increased a lot. Curiously my muscles only started showing signs of growing after about 12 weeks, which suited me fine, I wanted to be strong and be well toned, but not have large muscles.

I wanted my wife to start - but she simply didn't believe me. To prove it I did 18 chin ups - proper ones without swinging or bent arms. Before HIT I could do only 5-6 at any time in my life even when I was a "stronger guy" in my 20s and 30s. She agreed to try it out.

I introduced HIT to my wife who is a waif like 50kg and was very dubious about the whole thing at first. I recorded her results each week and she had similar results to me on strength gains. She actually cried with disbelief when she doubled her leg strength like I promised after 10 weeks. Now she goes every week often without me (she finds my "encouragement" really annoying now. She has toned up very well and her fears of having giant muscles were of course completely unfounded; she looks a feels great and her confidence has subtly increased too.

Things to remember with HIT:
* Read the book first and then read it again after a few weeks of doing HIT
* Doing HIT requires effort, it is not the "normal" gym session we have been brainwashed to do since the 1980s. You are under load for a maximum of around 8 minutes ONLY.
* Use a small, cheap clock with a second had to put on the floor in front of you to time yourself. Stop-watches and trainers are either useless or pointless.
* The time on each of the 5 exercise should be between 60-100 seconds. When reaching 100 seconds, you must increase the weight. If you cant reach 60 seconds reduce your weight
* By definition, your time under load should never exceed 500 seconds in total (8.3 minutes)
* Increase time OR weight every week, but not both
* Buy small weights to insert in some machines as the step may be too big to achieve the minimum 60 seconds when you go up a step
* Do everything super-slow, I usually do 10 seconds pull and 20 seconds release
* The types of machine doesn't really matter even though Nautilus and Medex are recommended, I do HIT on the usual crummy gym machines
* Record your results each week - important!
* Use the correct technique, body-cheating is a waste of time
* When exhausted and wanting to "give up", hold the position and don't give in. When I used to show my wife initially she wanted to give up too early. I encouraged her to continue - she would often double her time as a result. A lot of HIT is mental not just physical. I suspect that's why it doesn't work for some people - they simply give up too early. Thinking of what makes you angry is a good boot to break through.
* No rest between exercises - many people treat the gym like a social club, chat on their phones between exercises or rest a long time to show off their muscles (women and steroid-body-builder guys please note; it is also irritating for HIT'ers since you hog the machines)
* Follow the same sequence of exercises as explained the book for consistency of timing
* Don't overload the weights - I was doing this simply because I was so amazed at how strong I was getting, but my times were in the low 40 seconds - but they have to be at least 60 seconds on each exercise
* I use a simple drink of half a litre of water (pint) with two tablespoons of natural sugar during the exercises to encourage the chemical reactions (and a similar drink in the hour afterwards). See the book "nutritional timing" for the science behind that
* Eat a simple high protein meal afterwards within 1 hour. I have steamed salmon and spinach
* Train once a week or LESS - I once had a break of 5 weeks and came back stronger than before because my body had healed itself properly after HIT
* You should be COMPLETELY exhausted after HIT and your body should be shaking a bit, otherwise you haven't done it properly
* You don't need to spend more than 30 minutes in total in the gym from arriving to leaving. This should be easy since your time under load never exceeds 8.3 minutes of actual exercise.
* You should be really aching the next day, otherwise you haven't done it properly.
* Don't do any other exercise for at least 2 days after HIT, except walking and perhaps gentle biking.
* I also do a 5 minute "warm up" (which is not necessary) using HIT interval training on the bike or cross trainer. 20 seconds fast as possible 40 seconds rest. This is optional but has improved my speed and endurance around the tennis/squash court quite a lot.

I observed that my long term, nagging knee, back and hip injuries all disappeared unexpectedly after 8 weeks of HIT. It appears the body only gets really well if it is forced to do so. I can now play 2 hours of intense tennis against the club pro without feeling tired at all - something I couldn't do even when I was 20.

If you follow the HIT approach it will work. If it doesn't work you are doing something wrong - so read the book again and follow it. Good luck.
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Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 24 Jan 2014 15:39:35 GMT
Ap says:

That's a great review. Sounds like you have really put into practice what the authors suggest. I'd like to check one point with you: I have the book, and one thing that confused me was how long the muscle had to be under tension. I did eventually find in the book that they suggested between 45 and 90 seconds. However, you are suggesting between 60 and 100 seconds. I realise there is not much difference, but as you say, you have to do these things correctly. I couldn't find this in the book, but am I just missing it, or is this a figure you apply to you own workouts?

Thanks, and congratulations on your progress,

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Jan 2014 15:59:53 GMT
Hi well spotted on the timing under load. It's not clearly set out in the book and its a major omission. My view is that the overall TUL should be at least 400 seconds for 5 exercises which gives an average of 80 seconds each (mid way between 60 and 100 sec each). Any less than that is too little and any more than that too much.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Jan 2014 15:54:47 GMT
Ap says:

Thank you for that, yes, that sounds very sensible. I'm doing 60-90 seconds at the moment. Hope you are still reaping the benefits of HIT. I've done most protocols, and I find this the most time-efficient, and effective. Who wants to spend 2 hours, 6 days a week in the gym when you can get all the benefits in less than 20 minutes once or twice a week?


Posted on 29 Jan 2014 15:36:02 GMT
Antoine says:
I'm 62 now and a fitness insrtructor. I was a big fan of 80s bodybuilder Mike Mentzer and Arthur Jones, creator of Nautilus machines. I tried HIT training a few years ago, following MMs book and it is very effective.
On EVERY workout for months, I was increasing reps or weights.

Recently, I have been experimenting with bodyweight training, which is also very time economical and can be done anywhere. Each workout, I do 50+ chins (36 chins in 5 mins) alternating with pull-ups and 70+ press-ups, then a couple of Leg Press sets or free squats.

However, on seeing McGuff's excellent talks on Youtube, I have decided to buy his book and I recommenced HIT training just 30 mins ago. I can assure all those gym nuts out there that this is THE way to train!

In reply to an earlier post on 1 May 2015 19:58:45 BDT
Hi i apply these timings to my workouts. Last year i spent 4 months in hospital for a long standing digestion problem and eventually had surgery. I lost so much weight and muscle i literally couldnt get up off the floor. 1 year later i have fully recovered using only long walks and HIT to the point i am at 90% of my maximum strength and leg pressing 156kg (i could do only 12kg 6 months after the op) . HIT has literally saved the quality of my life. Hope you find results too.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 May 2015 20:05:09 BDT
Hi the timings are not in the book, so the 60-100 seconds was by trial and error. You may prefer slight variations but so long as you reach the aim of complete exhaustion not too quickly you will benefit. Its still working for me and my wife is gradually cstching up with me - she is 15kg lighter but 20 years younger - i'm not complaining though :-)
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