Everything you need to know about HIT Training

27. February
Sabrina Wall

Thats what HIT Training is all about.

The High Intensity Training (HIT) program was published in 1970 in Arthur James’ book “The Nautilus Training Principles Bulletin No. 1“ and has since then been a globally spread and an intensively applied training program by many athletes with great results. Arthur Jones was born in 1926 in Arkansas. He was an adventurer, entrepreneur, pilot and animal filmmaker. Arthur Jones started early with strength-training and developed a passion for the exploration of training methods.


Subsequently, Jones created the Nautilus- and MedX-training machines, which he himself sold. In addition, Arthur Jones was very popular in the bodybuilding scene and trained top athletes like Boyer Coe, Casey Viator, Mike and Ray Mentzer as well as Sergio Olivia.


In general, Arthur Jones was convinced that any strength-training unit should be hard, short and not too often. Consequently, one of his theories was that training should either be hard or long, but never both at the same time. He justified his theory by stating that the training’s intensity decreases naturally, the longer one trains in an individual unit.

His theories were especially interesting, because at that time, training with high volume was rather popular among well-known bodybuilders who often trained twice a day with a high number of sets. Many athletes followed this training 6 times a week. Jones’ approach was therefore a sharp contrast to the other methods that were often applied back then.

Further theories by Arthur Jones

Arthur Jones considered three trainings per week with his HIT program fully sufficient and he believed that complete body training was superior to other split programs.

At that time, especially, high splits were widespread in the bodybuilding scene. Moreover, Jones relied largely on the most important basic exercises, namely: bench press, squat, deadlift, shoulder press, dips as well as pull-ups. He also integrated his individually developed Nautilus training machines into his program, having the benefits of granting a constant resistance over the entire range of motion.

In this respect, the pullover machine was best known. Even top athlete Dorian Yates mentions it when being asked for the secret for his powerful back.

The structure of HIT training.

In general, Jones recommends 1 to 3 sets per exercise. However, within the HIT program, more exercises should be avoided, as the growth stimulation takes place after muscle failure. Any further set would minimize the regenerative capacity. Jones was of the opinion that training to muscle failure was desirable only with few, though heavy sets in order to achieve optimal training stimuli.

When it comes to the HIT training, the following aspects are of utmost importance:


With regard to the HIT training, intensity should be rather vigorous. This means that the training units in this program should be very hard, which, in turn, requires strong will, excellent concentration and a certain capacity to suffer. The HIT program desires to achieve muscle failure with any exercise or at least to be close to doing so. According to Jones, only then optimal growth stimulus can be achieved.


In addition to intensity, the duration of the HIT program by Arthur Jones is vitally important. The maximal duration should be 45 minutes per unit. Jones argues that his program is extremely hard and during these units, it is mostly carbs and fat that is burned. During longer training units, on the contrary, the body would have to draw on protein reserves due to the high intensity. This, however, should be avoided, as this would have catabolic effects.


In the first place, it is important to mention that muscles do not grow during training, but rather during the training breaks. Therefore, Jones argues that three trainings per week are fully sufficient as the muscles get enough regeneration in order to grow in an optimum way. By now, it has been scientifically proven that muscle groups take about 24 to 48 hours to re-attain their normal condition and be fully regenerated.

Advantages and disadvantages of HIT training

With respect to the advantages of Arthur Jones’ training program, HIT is, for instance, appropriate for Natural athletes, which would not necessarily be applicable to high splits. This is also important because mostly any top athlete in strength-training increases their performance with steroids, growth hormones and other anabolic substances. This has not only positive effects on their strength values, but also on their regenerative capacity.

Unfortunately, this information has not reached all natural athletes yet who often choose training programs with high splits (5 and 6 splits) that are largely used by professional bodybuilders. These plans require very good regeneration, which is hard to achieve without steroids. In this case, the HIT training is a great method that leads to an optimal growth stimulus on the muscles. This can be achieved in a natural way with only three complete body trainings per week.

Furthermore, the HIT program is a great training method for people who, for various reasons, don’t have enough time to train more often per week or who do not want to use their time for training.

The disadvantages are, however, that it takes very high intensity, which some people just can’t or don’t want to show. Concerning this matter, it is no surprise that absolute top athletes that had been trained by Jones passed out during training. Of course, it needs to be taken into account that a top athlete’s intensity cannot be compared to that of a hobby athlete.  This is because a better training condition allows a higher intensity during training, which is obtained only after years of hard and regular training.

High Intensity Training in practice


According to Jones, the HIT training should be completed with a full body plan. In this way, the best possible success can be achieved.

The training frequency is 3 times per week. Here you have a sample plan for High Intensity Training by Arthur Jones:


Squats 2×10
Calf-raises 3×15
Pull-ups 2x max.
Bench press 2×10
Shoulder press 2×10
Rowing 2×10
Dips 2×10
Barbell curls 2×10
Deadlifts stretched 1×15
Crunches 2×15

Have you already tried HIT Training? What’s your favourite exercise? Tell us.  office@natural-athletx.com

Thanks for reading and see you.

Your Natural AthletX Team 


Jürgen is Founder und CEO of Natural AthletX, loves Crossfit, Soccer and und good food.

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