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--------------- Print Magazine --------------
  May 2016
  April 2016
High Intensity Training: The concept and the basic regimen

In today's fitness conscious world, an increasing number of people are prepared to make an honest effort to keep themselves physically fit and efficient. A fit body boosts one's self-image, which gives a fillip to self-confidence boosting one's professional performance. This explains why so many people from all walks of life are seen stretching out in the morning, performing yoga or running straight down the road with their ipods for company.

Then, there is an altogether different category of people who do not just want to stay fit, but want to look in shape with bulging muscles. Therefore, it is not surprising to note that building muscles in the shortest possible span is the primary objective of most of those who step into a gym these days. Newcomers to the gym would often be spotted asking the trainer as to how soon could they start seeing noticeable difference in their physique. The question is generally ducked carefully by the experienced trainers because it is not really possible to answer the question accurately. And that is because muscle building and the duration it takes depends upon so many factors.

Building muscles is more about providing the required stimulus to the muscles to enable to build themselves. Therefore, the trick lies in keeping the muscles challenged all the time. High Intensity Training (HIT) is known to be an effective approach to build a touch physique, but one has to be very careful about using the technique because HIT is about combining optimum workout with sufficient rest.

Although High Intensity Training has been in vogue for quite some time now, it may not be found as effective on one person as on the other. The progress one makes in building muscles depends partly on the genetic makeup one is endowed with and partly on one's approach. The foremost benefit of HIT is that it does not require one to workout a great deal or too often. The challenging part, however, could be putting together an HIT workout schedule, which enables the body to build muscles in the best possible manner.

However, HIT requires more precision because one has to perform each set to perfection and exhaustion, as there are fewer sets per body part, which means if the set is not executed perfectly the benefit to be derived may be compromised. And that would surely retard the progress. So, if you have less time per week, you can go for HIT but you would return exhausted that day, and may not be able to perform at your best in office. The other option is to go for regular exercise regimen, if you think you would be able to find time to go to the gym everyday or every second day at least.

HIT is not recommended for the beginners. In fact, it is strongly advised that those who have just begun working out follow the regular regimen for sometime till they are experienced enough to be able to handle weights and control movements well. That stage would not arrive any time before 6 to 8 months. So, be patient and train under the guidance of an able trainer before you take up HIT.

For HIT, just like for the normal exercise regimen, one has to start with a warm up. Light jogging, spot running combined with a bit of stretching and rotating of the arms for around 10 minutes or so would be good to begin your exercise routine with.

On Day 1, you could concentrate on chest and shoulders with one to two exercises each for both the muscle groups. Also bear in mind that these two muscle groups do not work in isolation. So, if you put your shoulder muscles to use, some muscles in your chest would also be involved. Similarly, if you are performing exercises meant to build chest muscles, it would be your shoulder muscles supporting the movement of the weights together with the triceps, which form the back of your upper arms.

One set of bench press on flat bench and one set of dumbbell presses for shoulders to the point to exhaustion or ‘failure’ is enough under HIT regimen. One set of any exercise for the triceps may also be undertaken. Each repetition in a set must be slow and controlled so that the muscles in action get the full load of the weight being used. In case you feel that you are being able to do more than 12 repetitions, you must increase the weights you are using. However, it is advisable that you do that in your next session of the same muscle group. Focus on the muscles being worked out so as to derive the maximum benefit.

Isolation of muscles by use of machines instead of free weights may also not be a good idea because the basic purpose of HIT regimen is to put as many muscles in a muscle group to as rigorous workout as possible. Isolation of muscles defeats that purpose.

On Day 2, which has to be around a week later, one could go for the arms, both biceps and triceps and combine with some exercises for the abdomen. Again, do not overdo biceps. Just try a couple of sets of basic exercises like barbell curls and dumbbell curls, one set each. Make sure that the last set is done to absolute exhaustion of the muscles. For triceps, you can go for close-grip bench press or dips. One or two sets of each to the point of complete exhaustion are enough.

Day 3, a week later, could be for legs and back. Both of these are large muscle groups and may require two exercises of two sets each for each muscle group. For legs, concentrate on upper legs and lower legs (calves mainly) separately. Squats with weights are a good basic exercise for legs, and for calves, calf raises with weight are good, both standing and seating.

Dumbbell rows and barbell rows are both great exercises for upper back and are quite effective with lower back also to some extent.

The exercises mentioned above are just basic exercises to begin your HIT regimen. You must pick different exercises for each muscle group every second month in order to keep the muscles in your body under constant challenge, which is the basic idea behind High Intensity Training (HIT).

It is pertinent to add that HIT is not really a weight loss program, and if undertaken by complete beginners, it could also result in injuries. It is a muscle building regimen and is meant for those who have exercised for a considerable period of time already because the performance of each exercise must be perfect with controlled execution of each repetition.


Note: This is not a piece of authoritative medical or professional opinion or advice. Exercise of individual discretion is strongly recommended.

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