An Objective Look At Issues Without Idol-Worship

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Defense of High Intensity Training


1. Introduction

Dr. Fred Hatfield, aka Dr. "Squat" (probably nick-named so because he doesn't know "Squat" about anything), authored an article entitled "HIT with a HAMMER," which allegedly "disproved" high intensity training (HIT). The article can be found here:

This blog post is a line-by-line refutation of Dr. Hatfield's article. In it, I will attempt to show that, at best, Dr. Hatfield is a "near idiot" (as Arthur Jones would say), and at worse, he is incredibly intellectually dishonest.

A lot of the information presented in this blog post about HIT are from my memory, and because a lot of the information presented I have learned from many dispersed sources, I will not be making many references for the simple reason that it would take me at least a few days to hunt down every last source. However, I will post as many references as I can easily find, in order to help guide the reader.

2. HIT: What is it?

In order to make Dr. Hatfield's blatant intellectual dishonesty clear as daylight, I feel that it is necessary to give a brief definition, history, and outline of high intensity training, which will be abbreviated as "HIT" henceforth:

HIT is not a training routine, but a very broad training method. There exist many different strains of HIT, but it all started with one man named Arthur Jones.

Jones was an oldschool, non-competitive bodybuilder back in the 1940s and 50s, when bodybuilding was shunned by 99% of society, and muscular individuals were assumed to be "musclebound:" meaning, they were considered inflexible, unconditioned, freakish, vain, and dumb. Given this unfriendly environment, bodybuilders formed a relatively tight-knit community. Jones trained with golden-era bodybuilders like Steve Reeves at Vic Tanny's gym, located in what was considered the Mecca of bodybuilding at that time: Muscle Beach, Santa Monica.

Back then, the equipment was really simple, and so were training routines: three whole body workouts per week, consisting of the basics like squats, deadlifts, dips, standing presses, chin-ups, bent-over rows, bench presses, pulldowns, barbell curls, upright rows, etc. Bodybuilders focused on lifting heavy, eating heavier, recuperating in-between workouts, and progressing by lifting ever heavier weights in this era without steroids and other powerful performance-enhancement chemicals.

Despite Jones's interests in bodybuilding and weight training, they were not his main endeavors. Jones became a successful film-maker, making such movies as "Voodoo Swamp," which starred Jones's friend and golden-era bodybuilder Bill Pearl, and TV series like the wildly popular "Wild Cargo." If you get a chance, you should watch a few episodes of Wild Cargo (available here), as it truly was an excellent show, but I digress. For Jones, who became wealthy from his film-making endeavors, bodybuilding and weight training were more hobbies than anything else.

During his years of off-and-on-again training, Jones became disappointed in his results. Known for his unique way of putting thoughts into words, Jones stated something to the effect that he had "the limbs of a gorilla, but the torso of a spider-monkey." Due to time constraints, Jones reduced the volume of his workouts and discovered, to his own surprise, that he actually grew more with less training. You can read an account of Jones's discovery here. But despite growing more and more with less training, Arthur Jones still seemed to have arms and legs that were disproportionate in size to his torso. Jones thought that this must have been because he wasn't able to effectively isolate the large muscles of his back, the lats.

This spurred Jones to design and build a "pullover" machine, which was the first exercise machine that, to my knowledge, isolated the lats. Following this design, Jones decided to get in the exercise machine business, and he founded the company Nautilus Sports/Medical Industries, also known simply as "Nautilus," in 1971. Using Nautilus as his bully pulpit, Jones was able to disseminate his ideas about weight training, diet, and nutrition and attract bodybuilders who he employed at Nautilus and trained.

Jones's unique approach to training had much to do with his roots in and deep familiarity with oldschool bodybuilding: he took the oldschool principles of progression and form and added his own principles of intensity and brevity. His friend and employee, Dr. Ellington Darden, called Jones's approach to training "high intensity training," abbreviated it as "HIT," and the name and acronym have stuck ever since.

Various bodybuilders and trainers have since taken HIT and added their own personal twist on it. For example, Mike Mentzer and Casey Viator both ended up advocating split HIT routines, as opposed to the whole body routines which Jones and Dr. Darden favored. Ken Hutchins developed a form of HIT known as "SuperSlow" that focused on lifting weights very slowly on nearly frictionless exercise machines, in order to minimize the possibility of injury. Dorian Yates crossed HIT with more popular split bodybuilding routines, creating a unique blend.

Thus, properly understood, HIT is not a training routine but a training method that espouses the principles of progression, form, intensity, and brevity.

3. In Come the Critics

Jones and his training methods were heavily criticized through the muscle mags owned by Joe Weider. In all likelihood, these attacks by Weider against Jones were because Weider viewed Jones as a threat. Jones had published some widely read articles and bulletins (available here) which attacked supplements and advocated for the consumption of real food; not endless quantities of protein powder. No doubt, such claims irked Weider, as a large portion of his revenues came from selling protein powders through his magazines as well as selling advertisement-space to other supplement companies.

Moreover, Jones's views on training were too simple. All one needed to do was read one or two of Jones's articles or bulletins, and then design his own program. This kind of approach was not conducive to continuing the sale and readership of muscle mags, which relied on publishing *NEW, SECRET, BOMBING, BLITZING, RADICAL, REVOLUTIONARY* training routines every issue.

So Weider took issue with Jones, and decided to continually batter him with a barrage of attacks through the Weider muscle mags. One of the most widely read critiques of Jones and HIT was the article "HIT with a HAMMER," by Dr. Fred Hatfield, a friend of employee of Joe Weider. Dr. Hatfield makes numerous outrageous, inflammatory, and borderline libelous claims, none of which are true.

Because "HIT with a HAMMER" has proven so popular, and has been spread and read so widely over the internet, I have decided to provide a line-by-line refutation of this article here. Enjoy.

4. HIT with a HAMMER: Is That How Dr. Squat Lost His Brain Cells?

For reference, "HIT with a HAMMER" is available on Dr. Hatfield's website, here. I respond to the claims made in this article point-by-point, providing each point with a lowercase roman numeral (i, ii, etc.). Enjoy.


Dr. Hatfield starts off by saying:
As long as whatever form of training you’re using doesn’t hurt you, it’s ”good.” Even if it keeps you from achieving your maximum potential, it’s better than no training at all. So, on a scale of good, better, best, training according to the tenets of HIT theory is “good.”

As long as whatever type of training equipment you’re using doesn’t hurt you, it’s ”good.” Even if it keeps you from achieving your maximum potential, it’s better than no training equipment at all.
I think everyone, whether they train using HIT or not, can agree with that. But reading Dr. Hatfield's critique, it readily become apparent that the Doctor does not care about the truth, to him every training routine works, except for HIT. All that he cares about is discrediting HIT and defaming everyone associated with it, along with their radical ideas which stand opposed to, you know, fleecing bodybuilders of their hard-earned money by selling largely useless supplements.


Dr. Hatfield starts off on the wrong foot, by exposing his intellectual sloppiness:

So, on a scale of good, better, best, training with Hammer equipment is “good.”

Now, my tongue-in-cheek inclusion of the good folks at the Hammer equipment welding facility is merely that: Tongue-in-cheek. Actually, Hammer’s inventor was none other than Arthur Jones. His son took over the company and made Hammer equipment a success story. So much so, in fact, that Life Fitness bought the company! The point is that Hammer, like Nautilus (Arthur’s first foray into the wonderful world of weights), is frequently touted as the equipment of choice for the Hit Men. Me? I like BOTH companies’ equipment no more or less than I like the rest of them. In fact, each has some unique merits, as do many others.

Though this has little to nothing to do with HIT, Dr. Hatfield gets his facts wrongs, and this sets the stage for the rest of his article. The "Hammer" company wasn't founded by Arthur Jones, but by his son Gary Jones along with Kim Wood, a long-time friend, aid, and employee of Arthur Jones. Arthur was angry at Gary for starting this company and "copying" (Arthur's words, not mine), many of his designs. Personally, I say more power to Gary and Kim for starting a great company that produced some good equipment.

Also, it's intellectually dishonest for Dr. Hatfield to say that "Hammer is frequently touted as the equipment of choice for the Hit Men." Though many HIT trainees enjoy Hammer equipment (I'm among them), they also like Nautilus and MedX equipment, along with the basics like barbells, dumbbells, and cables. It's important to remember that the first "HIT" workouts, which occurred before the term "HIT" was even invented (to Arthur Jones and his accolades it was simply sensible, oldschool training, not "HIT"), were performed mainly with barbells, dumbbells, and cables. Only one machine was used: the pullover machine which Arthur invented in order to isolate the lats as best as possible.

What Dr. Hatfield is trying to do here is to set up HIT as nothing more than a financial endeavor thought of Jones and perpetuated by his employees. Dr. Hatfield will reveal his aim a little later in his article...


Here, Dr. Hatfield states his "thesis," if you will, that HIT is nothing more than a "religion" created by Arthur Jones and his evil accomplices in order to make money:

It all started back in the early seventies with Arthur Jones of Nautilus fame. Arthur’s chief mission, of course, was to sell equipment. His marketing plan was brilliant. My interpretation of his plan was that in order to sell his equipment (which for the day was quite expensive) he had to create a religion for the masses. To create a religion he needed 1) churches, 2) disciples, 3) a bible, and 4) clergy.
The lies and misinformation start early in this article, don't they? As mentioned previously, Jones had already made a fortune film-making. He had no profit-motive; to him Nautilus was little more than a pleasurable hobby, which earned him a little income on the side.

"Facts are facts," and the facts here are that Jones would not have started Nautilus if he was interested in making money. The production of exercise equipment was, and still is, a small market compared to the film-making industry that Jones was involved in. If Jones were seeking profit, he wouldn't have wasted all of the time and money that he spent on Nautilus, instead he would've continued making films at a much higher profit margin.

On this fact alone, Dr. Hatfield's critique of Arthur Jones, Nautilus, and HIT falls flat on its face.


Dr. Hatfield continues on with his psychobabble about HIT being a profit-generating religion:

A scientist (Ellington Darden) inspired by God (Jones) wrote his bible, and (much later) a strength coach named “Moses” Matt Brzycki put the Ten Commandments from that bible into lay language. The Ten Commandments are presented below.
Dr. Darden wrote Jones's bible? And then Matt Brzycki put it into lay language? Huh?!?

The problem here is that there is no one book that is considered the "bible" of HIT. Dr. Darden must have written about two dozen books since the 1970s, and Brzycki wrote quite a few of his own. Nobody views any of their books as a "bible" or "Ten Commandments" of training.

Dr. Hatfield is clearly just making facts up, trying to make it seem as if anyone who advocates HIT is a whacko. This is a fallacy known as poisoning the well.


Dr. "I Don't Know Squat" lies some more...

Then he paid a bunch of guys to follow the gospel (their test results were later incorporated into the bible). Later, a chosen few of them became his disciples
Oh yeah? Which guys did Arthur Jones pay, when, how, and how much?

And what "test results?" Which "tests" (I assume that Dr. Hatfield means "studies") did Jones pay for? Which tests were performed by Jones and his accomplices, in order to dupe the sheepish public?

As it turns out, Dr. Hatfield is woefully short on actual facts, so he just makes a bunch of unsubstantiated claims.

The only truly major study funded by Jones (that I know of) was Project Total Conditioning, a study performed on West Point cadets in 1975. Jones was able to elicit a whopping 59% strength gain in the cadets he trained over the course of six weeks. These cadets also increased their flexibility by 11% and their two-mile run time decreased an average of 88 seconds. All of these results were far better than the "control" free-weight group. So Jones funded and thus corrupted this study, right? Wrong. The before-and-after tests for strength, conditioning, and flexibility were performed by independent, third party scientists who had no idea that Jones was behind the study. The strength coaches at West Point were so impressed that many adopted HIT and went on to become strength coaches at other colleges, spreading the word about the results this incredible training method can produce.


Dr. Hatfield continues...

The churches came next (Nautilus gyms sprang up all over the place... most are dead now, their respective flocks having flown the coop upon realizing that they were not making it to the promised land quickly enough -- in my humble opinion)

His clergymen (gym owners) LOVED Arthur because he had really neat looking equipment and a way for them to rustle their clients in the front door and out the back real fast by convincing them that one set to failure was “the way.”
Funny that Dr. Hatfield should mention that. While Dr. Darden tried to push Arthur Jones towards getting in the business of franchising gyms, Arthur Jones didn't really care. To him, the time and effort of doing that wasn't worth the reward since he could put the same time and effort into film-making and earn many times more profit.

Jones didn't go after gyms that used the Nautilus logo or the word "Nautilus" in their gym name without an official franchise because, quite frankly, he didn't care. It wasn't worth the effort and he wasn't interested in the money.

Nor did Jones force any gym that bought Nautilus equipment or officially franchised itself as a Nautilus gym to make use of his training methods. If I remember correctly, Bill Pearl owned a Nautilus-franchised gym, and nobody could ever accuse him of being a proponent of HIT. The man was as high volume as they come.

As for the profit motive behind the "one set per exercise" idea... Then why didn't Arthur Jones, Nautilus, and gym owners push for a more radical HIT? You know, instead of one set per exercise, 12+ exercises per workout, three workouts per week, why not one set per exercise, 5 exercises per workout, one-two workouts per week? Clearly, that would've been far more profitable... right?

And if Arthur Jones was really such a profit-seeking conspirator, why did he refuse to make a calf raise machine for so many years, despite high demand for such a machine made by Nautilus? Why did Jones publish articles in which he claimed that a calf raise machine was unnecessary, since doing single-legged calf raises with a dumbbell was almost the perfect calf exercise?

If Jones really was such a profit-seeking conspirator, why did he write articles denouncing supplement companies and advocating the consumption of, you know, real food, not protein powders? Why didn't Jones use the money he made from his film-making and from Nautilus to set up a network of muscle mags through which he could market and sell worthless supplements and protein powders? In other words, if Jones was such a money-grubber why didn't he act like Dr. Hatfield's boss, Joe Weider?

Somehow, Dr. Hatfield's assumptions don't stand up to the most basic scrutiny.


Dr. Hatfield doesn't stop the misinformation just yet:

To support the notion that HIT is a Pagan religion, let me quote the word as it is written in the HIT page of the internet by one of his high priests, Matt Brzycki:

“To some--including me--Jones was years ahead of his time and full of brilliant, revolutionary ideas about exercise; to others, he was the devil incarnate. One thing that everyone seems to agree upon was that he was abrasive, outspoken and brutally candid.”
How is this proof of HIT being a "Pagan religion?" Anyone who has read any of Arthur Jones's writings can tell you that the man was "abrasive, outspoken and brutally candid." I don't see how saying so somehow constitutes as worship of Jones.


Hatfield doesn't stop there...

Old timers like me recall that the most popular movies of the day were 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea and The Time Machine. Arthur got the name “Nautilus” from one movie (his offset cam, copied from German physical therapy equipment of the mid 1800s, looked like a cross-sectioned conch shell), and the design from the other movie (his first machines were curiously reminiscent of the “Time Machine”)
So none of this is really relevant to HIT, and by this point in the article it's clear that the author was really trying to attack Arthur Jones and all ideas associated with him, you know, the ideas which threatened Joe Weider's business plan.

But since Dr. Hatfield brings it up, I'll refute it:

First of all, the Nautilus company got its name because the offset cam (more on that in a bit), which was the unique feature of Nautilus exercise machines, looked like a Nautilus shell. For those who don't know, there are these marine creatures called "Nautilus" that live in a shell that's aptly called... you guessed it, a "Nautilus shell."

Secondly, anyone with half a brain knows that the Jules Verne novels preceded those movies. It's more likely that Jones named his company after the novel itself, not the movie. The fact that Dr. Hatfield doesn't know this proves that he is a "near idiot," as Joens would say. But of course, Jones actually named his company due to the offset cam's resemblance to the Nautilus shell, and of course, Dr. Hatfield doesn't want you to know that because he wants to make Arthur Jones look as ridiculous as possible by naming an exercise machine company after a movie.

Thirdly, the offset cam was actually an idea of Arthur's son, Gary. Arthur wanted to create variable resistance for his machines, meaning, he wanted one part of the range of motion to be "heavier" than the other, in order to match the strength curves of different muscles. The only way he could think of doing it was using a mechanical gearbox, which would've been prohibitively expensive. Gary came up with the idea of an offset cam, and Arthur used it. The offset cam looked like a Nautilus shell, so Arthur named the company "Nautilus." Nothing too exciting here, move along.

Fourth, Jones couldn't have stole the idea for his machines from "German physical therapy equipment from the mid 1800s," since the knowledge of that equipment, let alone the blueprints for them, were lost to history and weren't rediscovered till after Jones founded Nautilus. When Jones found out about those physical therapy machines, and the doctor who designed them (Dr. Zander), he was astonished and praised the doctor for being a century ahead of his time. Furthermore, Jones had no reason to suppress knowledge of Dr. Zander's equipment. Though Jones did patent his machines, he never sued competitors who stole his designs. Again, the man simply wasn't interested in the profits.

Lastly, Dr. Hatfield can't have it both ways: were Jones's machines modeled after Dr. Zander's physical therapy equipment or were they modeled after a time machine in some movie? Or, wait for it, was the time machine in the movie modeled after Dr. Zander's physical therapy equipment? Now that's a conspiracy theory that Dr. Hatfield should jump on!


Dr. Hatfield's claims become even more outrageous:

Yes. Arthur’s business plan was brilliant, and it was carried out even moreso. It’s no wonder that the religion has persisted to this day, so stauchly converted were his disciples.Meet some of the HIT Disciples:

There is a small (but utterly vocal) band of Arthur Jones disciples who have, since the early seventies, clung desperately to the oft discredited notion that one high intensity set to failure is all you need to achieve your maximum potential in growing stronger or bigger. In fact, the contemporary biblical interpretation (below) admits that one may profit from three sets, although one set is just as good as three. I say “desperately” for good reason. These guys (who like to call each other “HIT Jedi”) invested their hearts and souls (and, quite often, funds from their respective organizations) in the superiority of both Jones’ equipment and his theories on how best to use it. Others have been or are “sponsored” by Arthur. It almost seems as if they are afraid of losing face (if not their jobs) if they were to back away from the tenets of the HIT theory now, despite the huge volume of scientific studies discrediting many of its tenets
Dr. Hatfield doesn't seem to consider that maybe, just MAYBE, people train using HIT because they have found it to be the best training method in their own experiences. But of course, this cannot be true, after all, all training routines work, except for HIT, right Mr. Weider.... errrm I meant Dr. Hatfield?

And what studies is Dr. Hatfield referring to? How were they performed, by whom, and who funded them? Can he not post at least one study to back up his claims?


The entertainment continues with Dr. Hatfield's unceasing urge to twist the truth:

From a social-psychological view, it’s utterly fascinating to watch the HIT men scramble. It brings to mind the great movie, “Lord of the Flies,” in which a bunch of shipwrecked boys, left to their own devices, created a sort of Pagan society amongst themselves. Some of the Jedi who are more vocal than most, having written many passionate articles or books on their own cute little variants of the old Jones theory, bear mention. How they refer to each other as “Jedi” (which, I’m assured, means “priest”) is yet more proof that HIT is a Pagan religion. I must say, however, I admire their zeal for lifting (albeit at a sub-par level)!

Meaning to cast no dispersion on these well-meaning gentlemen by identifying them to the readership of this website, and acknowledging that not all those listed may care to admit to, and in fact vehemently deny their Pagan beliefs (until after the cock crows), here they are in alphabetical order (this is neither an exhaustive listing, nor is it mine -- it came from their web site):

· Matt Brzycki (strength coach at Princeton University);

· Ellington Darden, Ph.D. (Jones’ longtime science advisor);

· Ken Leistner, D.C. (New York chiro who runs a gym there);

· Ken Mannie (strength coach at Michigan State);

· Stuart McRobert (publishes a “Hardgainer” newsletter);

· Mike Mentzer (now deceased, former bodybuilder who fabricated his own “Heavy Duty” interpretation of Arthur’s disproved tenets);

· Dan Riley (strength coach of the Washington Redskins);

· Rob Spector (keeper of a HIT web site);

· Wayne Westcott, Ph.D. (a YMCA fitness director); and

· Kim Wood (strength coach of the Cincinnati Bengals)·

The Jedi also claim as disciples, bodybuilding converts such as Dorian Yates, Ray Mentzer and Casey Viator.

Just as Protestants split from Rome, some Jedi have gone their own way to create their own denominations of the HIT religion. The religious wrinkles provided by the various denominations after their split from Rome are quite interesting reading. I mentioned Mike Mentzer’s “Heavy Duty” system of training in a previous article in this series -- really no different than HIT with a few funky (read: “mystical”) wrinkles added. There’s also the “Superslow” system created by the Protestant HIT Jedi Ken Hutchins, who actually provides a fitness trainer certification in his system (which can be yours for as little as $495.00). His peculiar wrinkle to HIT theory has to do with friction. Says he:

“When you pull a trigger on a rifle or gun, you're supposed to pull with a slow, steady squeeze to the rear - if you jerk the trigger than the shot will be off. Same thing when lifting weights - each repetition should be a slow, steady squeeze of the muscle with no jerking.

“...if an exercise has little friction, it's better to use a longer negative as you don't get the “partial respite” that you would from an exercise with lots of friction.”

Utter nonsense, of course…a topic for a future article, I’m afraid (space constraints, you know).

So Dr. Hatfield himself admits that many of these HIT "Jedi" are "well-meaning gentlemen." IF the individuals he lists are "well-meaning gentlemen," could it occur to Dr. Hatfield (or anyone else for that matter) that perhaps these "well-meaning gentlemen" advocate high intensity training because it works?

Again, it seems like Dr. Hatfield's position is "every training system works, besides HIT." Doesn't seem like a very logical position to have, now does it?

Could the Casey Viators, Mike and Ray Mentzers, Boyer Coes, and Dorian Yateses of this world possibly advocate HIT because it has helped them become top bodybuilders?

What of all those bodybuilders who swear by the training method known as "DC Training," which is scarily similar to HIT?

But don't let those thoughts bother the good Dr. Hatfield!


Here Dr. Hatfield begins to tackle "the Ten Commandments of HIT." The only problem is that he doesn't list his sources, so nobody can really tell if he's actually quoting someone or if he's just pulling shit out of his ass. But I digress...

1. Train With A High Level Of Intensity.

“Intensity,” according to HIT dogma, “relates to the degree of the "inroads"--or amount of fatigue--you've made into your muscle at any given instant. In the weight room, a high level of intensity is characterized by performing an exercise to the point of concentric muscular failure: when you've exhausted your muscles to the extent that you literally cannot raise the weight for any more repetitions. Failure to reach a desirable level of intensity--or muscular fatigue--will result in little or no gains in functional strength or muscular size. After reaching concentric muscular failure, you can increase the intensity even further by performing 3 to 5 additional post-fatigue repetitions. These post-fatigue reps may be either negatives or regressions and will allow you to overload your muscles in a safe, efficient manner.”

There is no question that going to failure can constitute a more “intense” workout. But, in the real world -- in the gym -- intensity is so much more than that. Webster defines intensity as having or showing the characteristic of strength, force, straining, or (relative to a bodybuilder's focal point) other aspects of his or her effort to a maximum degree. The words intense and intent both have the same Latin root, intendere "to stretch out." If one is intent on doing something, he does so, by definition, with strained or eager attention -- with concentration! That intensity of effort is largely a function of the mind is not this writer's opinion. It is true by definition as well as by practical usage of the word! "Intensity" is increased by:

· amplification of mental effort -- getting "psyched"

· approaching your training with a burning passion, as though it were your LIFE

· adding reps

· adding weight (this is the common definition of intensity)

· decreasing rest between reps

· decreasing rest between sets

· increasing the number of exercises per body part

· increasing the total number of exercises or body parts trained at one session

· increasing the number of training sessions per day

· increasing the speed of movement

· increasing the amount of work done at the anaerobic threshold (maximum pain tolerance)

· increasing the amount of eccentric work your muscles are required to perform.

Perhaps most importantly, going to failure is NOT a prerequisite to adaptation! The SAID Principle is violated by the first commandment of HIT. Their idea is to go to failure all the time, but certain “specific” training objectives mitigate against it (e.g., speed training). And, the GAS Principle, which states that there must be a period of low intensity training or complete rest following periods of high intensity training, is violated. These guys go to failure all the time!

So Dr. Hatfield's claim is that HIT's focus on intensity is erroneous and misplaced, since it violates the SAID and GAS Principles.

For the record, here is how Dr. Hatfield defines the SAID and GAS Principles earlier in his article:

· The SAID Principle: The acronym for "Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands.”

· The GAS Principle: The acronym for General Adaptation Syndrome, this law states that there must be a period of low intensity training or complete rest following periods of high intensity training.

As one can see, Dr. Hatfield fails to actually define the SAID Principle and the GAS Principle, and he fails to establish why they're some "laws" of training that everyone should follow (it seems like he's simply trying to establish his own religion here, hmmm...). He simply says that the SAID Principle is the acronym for "Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands." He doesn't actually define it. Dr. Hatfield then explains that "The GAS Principle" is simply an acronym for "General Adaptation Syndrome," and that somehow this "law" states that there must be periods of varying intensity, but he fails to explain why The GAS Principle is a "law" of training/lifting/bodybuilding/whatever and what The GAS Principle actually states. He simply asserts point blank that The Gas Principle refutes high intensity training.

Since Dr. Hatfield fails to define the SAID Principle and the GAS Principle, I'll define it myself:

* The SAID Principle, or "Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands," is the principle that your body responds to a stress (aka a stimulus) and adapts or responds to that stimulus accordingly. It also states that if the stress is too great or if the subsequent recovery period is too short, your body will fail to adequately adapt to said stress/stimulus. The SAID Principle stresses the importance of specificity, namely that you have to practice a specific skill in order to get good at said skill (in other words, there isn't little if any positive carry-over from one skill to another). In practice, the SAID Principle means that if you practice your golf swing with a golf club of a certain length and weight, you will get better at swinging a golf club of precisely that length and weight. The SAID Principle has more to do with motor-learning than physical training.

* The GAS Principle, or the "General Adaptation Syndrome," was originally described by the Austrian-born physician Hans Selye. The GAS Principle simply describes three stages of stress: alarm reaction is your body's immediate reaction to stress, when the "fight or flight" response is initiated and various catabolic hormones are released in response to stress; stage of resistance is your body's attempt to adapt to a stressor; and stage of exhaustion is when your body has been overwhelmed by being exposed to too great of a stress for too long and your health deteriorates as a result.

So if one actually investigates these principles, one discovers that they do not refute or disprove HIT, they actually strengthen the case for HIT. Both the SAID Principle and the GAS Principle underscore the need to regulate workout volume, frequency, and yes, possibly even intensity in order to avoid overtraining and produce maximum possible results.

High intensity training methods place great importance on balancing volume with frequency with intensity in order to avoid overtraining. Arthur Jones, Dr. Darden, Mike Mentzer, Dorian Yates, and others have advocated regulating one's volume, frequency, and intensity from time to time in order to avoid overtraining. In fact, Mike Mentzer's extremely infrequent and radically low-volume training routines in his book Heavy Duty 2 were based on limiting volume and frequency in order to maximize recovery and adaptation to exercise. Jones, Dr. Darden, Mentzer and others also advocated varying intensity: some workouts should be performed strictly to positive failure, some workouts should be performed beyond failure with the addition of forced reps, some workouts should be taken to static and negative failure, and sometimes workouts should stop short of failure!

For example, Arthur Jones and Dr. Darden recommended periodic "not-to-failure" (NTF) workouts. When training Boyer Coe, Jones and Dr. Darden had him initially perform workouts 3x per week to failure, then had him perform 2 workouts per week to failure and one workout per week NTF, and finally they moved him to a 2x per week whole body routine, where both workouts were taken to failure.

Furthermore, Arthur Jones, Dr. Darden, and Mike Mentzer all recommended periodic breaks and lay-offs from training. Dr. Darden, in one of his latest books, recommended a periodic 9 day lay-off from training once every few months. Mentzer recommended a whole two weeks lay-off before trying out the training routines found in his books, and allegedly Mentzer asked some of his personal training clients to take even longer periodic breaks than that!

Moreover, the SAID Principle is very central to HIT, especially the strict Dr. Darden version of HIT. Dr. Darden actually performed his doctoral work on motor learning and that's how he discovered how important specificity was. In his books, Dr. Darden warns against the many silly drills that coaches have their athletes perform. He stresses that in order to learn a skill well, you have to practice it specifically and perfectly. If you want to learn how to bat a baseball well, you have to practice with a baseball bat exactly the size and weight that you plan on using on the field. If you practice with a heavier bat or a lighter bat, you can confuse your motor learning, which will actually harm you when you step out on the field for a game.

This runs directly in the face of what the likes of Dr. Hatfield recommend, when they do things like advise athletes to perform power cleans in order to become more explosive. According to the likes of Dr. Darden, and according to the SAID Principle, there is no "explosive" skill (note: though there might be an "explosive" ability, abilities are genetic/hereditary and thus cannot be trained, but skills can be improved through practice). This means that in order to be more "explosive" on the field, the football player or the baseball player need to practice the "explosive" skills of sprinting or dodging opposing athletes trying to tackle them by actually performing those activities, not by doing some completely unrelated exercise like power cleans.

Dr. Darden and others expanded these principles into the field of weight training as well. If you want to get really good at squatting or bench pressing or deadlifting a heavy weight for one rep (in other words, if you want to be a good powerlifter), Dr. Darden will recommend that you begin squatting, bench pressing, and/or deadlifting a heavy weight that's close to your one rep max. He will also recommend that you do this as frequently as possible in order to train this skill. Pavel Tsatsouline, who is completely and utterly opposed to high intensity training, calls this "greasing the groove." Dr. Darden simply calls this learning (or, more specifically, motor-learning) a skill. Of course, avoiding overtraining is of paramount importance when doing this.

On the other hand, "speed training" and similar methods that are advocated by Dr. Hatfield, Louie Simmons, and their ilk are rejected by Dr. Darden and others who have a correct understanding of the SAID Principle. To take the example of Louie Simmons and Westside Barbell, bench pressing at 55% of your 1RM will actually do very little to improve your skill of bench pressing close to or at your 1RM. It might help enforce your nervous system's "memory," if you will, of the path that the barbell should take when bench pressing, but it won't significantly improve your skill at bench pressing 90%+ of your 1RM.

This is why so many HIT advocates often recommend routines that are chock full of exercises performed slowly and safely on machines, many of them being isolation exercises. Advocates of HIT believe that training for strength and size needs to be divorced from skill-training for a particular athletic event, whether that athletic event is powerlifting or soccer. HIT "Jedi," as Dr. Hatfield calls them, advocate for training routines that subject the target muscles with enough stress in order to stimulate growth and strengthening. Then, in combination with these strictly strength-training workouts, HIT advocates recommend that athletes practice the motor skills they need to use specifically and perfectly, in order to learn them as well as possible.

This is also why many HIT advocates are indifferent to barbell, dumbbell, and machine exercises. They only care about exercises which best stimulate the target musculature. So if someone's goal is to get bigger and stronger legs, the HIT "Jedi" would recommend leg presses or maybe leg extensions and leg curls, as those exercises specifically target the leg musculature. Because these machine exercises involve very little skill to use (as opposed to learning how to squat), they are often better for athletes and bodybuilders whose main goals are strength, dexterity, conditioning, and/or aesthetics. In other words, exercises like the barbell squat, deadlift, and bench press aren't any more useful to non-powerlifters than machine exercises which target the same muscular structures, while exercises like the clean, the clean & press, and the snatch aren't any more useful to non-Olylifters than other exercises which target those same muscle groups.

However, oddly enough, the likes of Dr. Hatfield call this rather straight-forward science regarding motor-learning "mythical" and then turn around and make mythical claims themselves, e.g. claiming that one has to squat in order to get big and strong legs or claiming that people can develop an "explosive skill" by performing "explosive" lifts like the power clean. This ultimately makes no sense once one understands the science behind motor-learning and the Principle of SAID. Squatting can definitely increase the strength and size of one's legs, but leg pressing and doing leg extensions and leg curls can target the same muscles more effectively, efficiently, and safely. And since there is no such thing as a general "explosive skill" one can train, performing explosive lifts like power cleans does nothing for the purpose of increasing athletic skill on the field, while performing these explosive lifts only increases the likelihood of injury.

Taking all of the above into account, if the SAID Principle and the GAS Principle disprove anyone, then they disprove the likes of Dr. Hatfield, not those who advocate and train using HIT.


I know it's getting difficult to take in all of Dr. Hatfield's idiocy. But it's not over yet:

2. Attempt To Increase The Resistance Used Or The Repetitions Performed Every Workout.

“...every time you work out you should attempt to increase either the weight you use or the repetitions you perform in relation to your previous workout. This can be viewed as a "double progressive" technique (resistance and repetitions). Challenging your muscles in this manner will force them to adapt to the imposed demands (or stress).”

The SAID Principle is violated. Sometimes, lighter weights done rapidly is required. And sometimes heavier weights done for 3 reps is required. (If your training requires that you go to failure with a weight that’s so heavy you can only do three reps, you are BEGGING for a MAJOR injury if that takes you to failure!)

The GAS Principle is also violated. Alternating periods of high versus low intensity is a better way to go. If you wait until total recovery is accomplished in any given muscle, atrophy place.

Again, Dr. Hatfield does not state where precisely he got this quote from. It highlights both Dr. Hatfield’s intellectual dishonest and his intellectual sloppiness.

In any case, it should be apparent by now that Dr. Hatfield doesn’t know what he’s talking about for several reasons:

1. As mentioned earlier, Arthur Jones, Dr. Darden, Mike Mentzer, Dorian Yates, and other HIT “Jedi” recommend adjusting volume, frequency, and intensity in order to avoid overtraining. One of the most common critiques of HIT is that it places too great of an emphasis on regulating volume, frequency, and intensity in order to not overtrain. Many who are opposed to HIT, and especially those who are opposed to Mike Mentzer’s super infrequent training routines found in [I]Heavy Duty 2[/I], claim that this scares trainees and forces them to train with too low of a volume and frequency to progress optimally. Apparently, this very basic “tenet” of high intensity training seems to escape Dr. Hatfield’s knowledge.

2. Dr. Hatfield claims that the SAID Principle is violated, and then he goes on to recommend a training practice that actually violates the SAID Principle. As mentioned earlier, motor-learning is a very [I]specific[/I] event. If you want to get better at a specific lift, e.g. the bench press, you have to practice it as specifically as possible in order to develop that [I]skill[/I]. So if you want to win a bench press competition, you have to train bench presses very near or at your 1RM in order to give your nervous system the chance to motor-learn bench pressing at heavy weights. Alternating heavy weights with light weights could confuse your nervous system’s process of motor-learning, and possibly even harm your progress. The only possible benefit of taking “light” workouts (like the guys at Westside Barbell do) is the same as taking a lay-off or performing a NTF workout: it allows you to recover better.

3. The claim that Dr. Hatfield makes about the GAS Principle is curious at best. First of all, as already pointed out multiple times, regulating volume, frequency, and intensity are central to high intensity training. Secondly, the GAS Principle has nothing to say about atrophy occurring due to a lack of stress. It simply outlines the “stages of stress” and explains that your body will not be able to adapt if it’s exposed to [I]too much[/I] stress, not too little. So while it might be true that atrophy takes place if you don’t stress or stimulate a muscle over a long period of time, this has nothing to do with the GAS Principle and it completely fails as a refutation of HIT, because most proponents of HIT advocate for the regulation of intensity in order to avoid overtraining. If anything, this [I]might[/I] count as a refutation of Mike Mentzer, who rejected not-to-failure workouts and advocated for the replacement of “NTF” workouts with longer recovery periods between workouts. But even then, is it true? Will your body simply forget about the stress that was imposed on it from lifting a weight to failure and fail to overcompensate if you give it enough rest time? This seems somewhat illogical. I think a better argument against Mentzer-style infrequent workouts is that it becomes extremely difficult to correctly time your workouts if you’re lifting at maximal intensity all the time. My point here being that the longer your recovery period between maximum-intensity workouts is, the harder it becomes to time your next workout, since you won’t know when your body has fully recovered. But even so, even Mentzer recommended regulating intensity; he simply didn’t believe in NTF workouts. Mentzer advocated increasing intensity by lifting till static or negative failure and by utilizing forced reps from time to time in order to beat a plateau. Also, it’s important to note that many HIT proponents, especially Arthur Jones and Dr. Darden, thought that progress could halt if the trainee didn’t change the stimulus from training by changing his training routine frequently enough. Mentzer, for example, advocated rest-pause training for the purpose of plateau-busting.

4. Regarding Dr. Hatfield's little tidbit about getting injured when training to failure: did the doctor fail physics in college? Force equals mass times acceleration. The relevance that equation has to physical training is that the safest rep of a set is the rep that you fail on. This is because you are capable of producing force that exceeds the mass of the object you're lifting till the very last rep, when you fail. That means that you are the least capable of producing force exceeding the structural integrity of your tendons on the last rep. How does the "doctor" not know this? "Dr. Doesn't Know Squat" seems like a more and more appropriate name for him.


Dr. Hatfield hasn't had enough yet!

3. Perform 1 To 3 Sets Of Each Exercise.

“...numerous research studies -- which I once again am probably viewed as dreaming up--have shown that there are no significant differences when performing either one, two or three sets of an exercise...”

Yep! You’re dreaming pal! Dr. Richard Berger (my mentor during my doctoral studies at Temple) years ago showed that there IS a significant improvement in gains with three sets as opposed to one. Other studies have shown the same results. Nowadays, many athletes (bodybuilders included) do as many as 10 or more sets. Even Arthur Jones --the original HIT man --showed that people with white, fast-twitch muscles require fewer reps, sets and workouts per week than people with predominantly red, slow-twitch muscles.

Apparently, all HIT men are white muscle fiber guys? I think not! So, while none of the seven laws are violated here, some (especially the overload principle and the SAID principle) are not being applied to their maximum potential.

And again, where does this quote come from??? Dr. Hatfield cares not to explain.

First of all, while it is true that, as a rule of thumb, most HIT proponents advocate for limiting the amount of sets performed per exercise to three or less, it is also true that HIT proponents advise trainees to find what number of sets, reps, exercises, and training frequency works best for them, as not all humans are endowed with the same ability to recover from intense exercise.

Secondly, performing one set per exercise isn’t necessarily the same as performing one set per bodypart. The vast majority of HIT routines contain a mix of exercises which oftentimes overlap in the muscular groups they target, and many HIT routines also contain various forms of pre-exhaustion, which means that a single muscle or muscle group is targeted by an isolation exercise and then it’s worked again by a compound exercise. For example, Arthur Jones invented a “double pre-exhaustion” routine for quads, where a bodybuilder performed leg presses to failure, immediately followed by leg extensions to failure, immediately followed by squats to failure. Those are three very difficult sets which hit the quads from different angles. Yet it’s still “one set per exercise.” And if you take a HIT routine that includes, say, a double pre-exhaustion for the lats (e.g. rows, pullovers, pulldowns) and later includes a pre-exhaustion set for the biceps (e.g. curls, chin-ups), that’s a total of five sets that work the biceps.

Thirdly, what is this study that Dr. Hatfield mentions that was performed by his “mentor” Dr. Richard Berger? How was it performed? What were the results? Why doesn’t Dr. Hatfield go into it more?

I feel it is important to ask because a poorly designed study could easily skew results. For example, if the subjects didn’t lift to failure, then it is plausible that the multiple-set group performed better because they received the greater stimulus. If the subjects performed very skill-based lifts, like the clean or even the squat or bench press, then it is possible that the multiple-set subjects performed better because the multiple sets stimulated greater motor-learning than the single sets (I refer you to the discussion about motor-learning, above). If the test subjects only performed one exercise, like say barbell curls, it’s possible that the multiple set group did better: remember that many HIT routines make use of one or two sets per exercise, but they might work a specific muscle or muscle group with more than one or two sets. There are many other things which can skew test results any which way. And if this Dr. Richard Berger was Dr. Hatfield’s “mentor,” and if Dr. Hatfield is a friend and employee of Joe Weider, then could there be any connection between Weider and Dr. Berger, and if so, could Weider have used his money, power, and influence to corrupt Dr. Berger and convince him to skew his study results? So I would like to see far more details about this study before I accept its results as true.

Fourthly, does anyone find it ironic that Dr. Hatfield first rejects studies performed or funded by Arthur Jones as inherently untrue and corrupt, yet now he cites Arthur Jones as proof that multiple sets are appropriate for some trainees? If this doesn’t prove to be enough intellectual dishonesty for you, it turns out that Dr. Hatfield misrepresents the findings of Arthur Jones. What Arthur Jones discovered was that:

- Fast-twitch fibers are stronger but fatigue quicker than slow-twitch fibers.

- Because of this, muscles that are predominantly made up of fast-twitch fibers can generate more force but fatigue much quicker than muscles that are predominantly made up of slow-twitch fibers.

- Thus, trainees should work muscles with predominantly fast-twitch fibers using low reps and muscles with predominantly slow-twitch fibers using high reps.

Jones’s findings also explain why some people might do better using multiple sets on certain exercises: muscles that are predominantly slow-twitch fibers fatigue slowly, thus multiple sets could do a better job than a single set at fatiguing and thereby stimulating growth in these muscles. But this does not necessarily mean that some people should be performing multiple sets. One set performed in a high repetition range could do enough to stimulate a predominantly slow-twitch muscle.

This also led Arthur Jones to develop a non-invasive procedure for testing the predominance of muscle fibers in a muscle, along with a guideline for determining in which repetition range the trainee should work a given muscle: isolate the muscle, test its 1RM, and then see how many times it can lift 80% of its 1RM. If you can lift 80% of your 1RM in a high repetition range, then that means that your muscles fatigue slowly (in other words, your muscle is slow-twitch fiber predominant), so when you exercise that muscle you should work it in a high repetition range. Conversely, if you can lift 80% of your 1RM in a low repetition range, then that means that your muscles fatigue quickly (in other words, your muscle is fast-twitch predominant), so when you exercise that muscle you should work it in a low repetition range.


Dr. Hatfield continues:

4. Reach Concentric Muscular Failure Within A Prescribed Number Of Repetitions.

“Repetition ranges differ from body part to body part and from coach to coach. In the course of training hundreds of collegiate athletes over the past eleven years, these are the ranges I usually assign: 15 to 20 (hip exercises), 10 to 15 (leg exercises) and 6 to 12 (upper body exercises). Other HIT strength coaches are pretty much in that neighborhood, with a few electing slightly lower ranges but not less than six.”

Woah! You guys should be blushing on this one! The SAID principle is quite specific in recognizing that not everyone is alike. Not everyone responds in the same way to any given rep/set scheme. Look again at my response to Commandment Three.

More lies and misinformation.

First of all, the SAID Principle states nothing about people's unique genetic characteristics.

Secondly, d as I've already explained above, proponents of HIT prescribe differing repetition ranges based on the composition of muscle fibers in a muscle. As a rule of thumb, most people have predominantly slow twitch fibers in the muscles of their lower body and more fast twitch fibers in the muscles of their upper body, so generally, trainees should perform more reps on lower body exercises than upper body exercises. But no serious advocate of HIT claims that this is universally true for all trainees.


Dr. Hatfield writes on...

5. Perform Each Repetition With Proper Technique.

“A quality rep is performed by raising and lowering the weight in a deliberate, controlled manner. Lifting a weight in a rapid, explosive fashion is ill-advised for two reasons: (1) it exposes your muscles, joint structures and connective tissue to potentially dangerous forces which magnify the likelihood of an injury while strength training, and (2) it introduces momentum into the movement which makes the exercise less productive and less efficient. Lifting a weight in about 1 to 2 seconds will guarantee that you're exercising in a safe, efficient manner. It should take about 3 to 4 seconds to lower the weight back to the starting/stretched position.

First, I grow weary of the HIT business of being “safe.” Where in the book does it say that going slow and deliberate with a heavy weight is safer? I think otherwise. And, certainly, these slow, deliberate movements are not as effective as other methods in many instances. SOME reps are well performed in the manner described above. However, this commandment clearly disregards the importance of cheating movements, explosive lifting (e.g., the Olympic lifts), and many other techniques of lifting. Further, slow, deliberate movements are nowhere NEAR as effective for forcing an adaptive response in connective tissues as are more explosive (and yes, often “ballistic”) movements. So much for their claim to “safety!” Deinhibition of the Golgi tendon organ’s protective feedback loop can be moved back far more effectively with controlled ballistic movements than with slow, deliberate movements.

Clearly, this commandment is in violation of the Overcompensation, Specificity and SAID principles.

Again, does Dr. Hatfield forget basic physics? If force equals mass time acceleration, which it undoubtedly does, then the most dangerous reps of a set are those in the beginning, when you are most capable of producing greater acceleration, and thus exposing your joints to greater levels of force!

And again, Dr. Hatfield continues with his unsubstantiated claims. How is this "commandment" in violation of the "laws" that Dr. Hatfield lists, yet doesn't properly define? He won't tell you, because he doesn't want you to catch him in a lie!

The fact of the matter is that unless you're an Olympic lifter or powerlifter who has to lift weights explosively, there is no reason for you to lift explosively (or "ballistically") as Dr. Hatfield claims! That's what the specificity principles refers to!


Dr. Hatfield's not done yet!

6. Strength Train For No More Than One Hour Per Workout.

“If you are training with a high level of intensity--and you should--you literally cannot exercise for a long period of time. ...Training with a minimal amount of recovery time between exercises will elicit a metabolic conditioning effect that cannot be approached by traditional multiple set programs. Don't ask me why cause I've been makin’ all this stuff up as I go along.”

Ol’ Jedi Brzycki continues to put his sandalled foot on top of his golden tongue. Here, I think (one can’t really tell) he’s claiming that doing one set of squats, then one set of benches, then one set of pulldowns, then one set of curls, and one set of 3, 4, 5 or so additional exercises, and you’re outta the gym.


Clearly, this commandment is in violation of the Overcompensation, Specificity and SAID principles. Re-read my response to Commandment Three. People are DIFFERENT!

What is Dr. Hatfield trying to get at here? Nobody will ever really know, probably because his response to "commandment three" was a complete flop. Since I've already refuted that response, I am able to move on...


More intellectual dishonesty...

7. Emphasize The Major Muscle Groups.

“The focal point for most of your exercises should be your major muscle groups (i.e. your hips, legs and upper torso).”

Oh? Have we lost sight of training weaknesses first? Bodybuilders know this instinctively. Most athletes do as well. Clearly, this commandment is in violation of the Specificity and SAID principles.

8. Whenever Possible, Work Your Muscles From Largest To Smallest.

“Exercise your hips first, then go to your legs (hams, quads and calves or dorsi flexors), upper torso (chest, upper back and shoulders), arms (biceps, triceps and forearms), abs and finally your low back.”

Duhhhhh! Am I missing something? In the Eighth Commandment, you told us NOT to focus on smaller muscles! In addition to violating one of your own commandments, this commandment is in violation of the Specificity and SAID principles.

So "Commandment 7" states that you should focus on your large muscle groups and "Commandment 8" states that you should work your largest muscles first. How is any of this contradictory? And how does this violate any of the "laws" Dr. Hatfield lays forth with religious fervor? He does not explain.


Almost done!

9. Strength Train 2 To 3 Times Per Week On Nonconsecutive Days.

“...a period of about 48 to 72 hours is necessary for muscle tissue to recover sufficiently from a strength workout. A period of at least 48 hours is also required to replenish your depleted carbohydrate stores. ...Performing any more than three sessions a week can gradually become counterproductive due to a catabolic effect. This occurs when the demands you have placed on your muscles have exceeded you recovery ability. Recovery time is adequate if you continue making gains.”

Sometimes 48-72 hours is sufficient, and sometimes it’s not. Depending upon the muscle involved it may be less or it may be more. Remember:

· Big muscles take longer to recover than smaller ones

· Fast twitch muscles (your "explosive" muscles) take longer to recover than slow twitch muscle fibers ("endurance" muscles);

· Guys recover faster than girls;

· You recover faster from slow movements than from fast movements;

· You recover faster from low intensity training than from high intensity training.

· The older you get, the longer it takes to recover

By carbohydrate stores, do you mean glycogen? Not 48 hours... something closer to 2 or 3 hours!

I, and every athlete I’ve ever trained, often trained twice a day! The Russian athletes do, the Bulgarian weightlifters train 3-6 times a day! And, even if there were (as Bryzcki put it) a “catabolic” effect, wouldn’t that call for a “periodized approach to training?

Grand daddy laws violated with this one are the SAID, GAS and Specificity Principles.

Dr. Hatfield again wants to have it both ways: some muscles need longer than two days to recover, but you can train every day twice a day without any worries because the juiced up Bulgarians and Russians did it!

And again Dr. Hatfield rolls out his "grand daddy laws" with religious fervor, and again he fails to explain how this "commandment" breaks his "laws."