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Building Mass with HIT

Q: I was reading an article of yours I liked very much. I believe that you were training HIT style, but I’m not sure. I would appreciate your help in analyzing my routine:

Workout A: Deadlifts, chinups, dips, curls, calves

Workout B: Machine hack squats, chinups, military presses, pec deck, reverse curls

I train twice a week; for each exercise I do one warmup set plus 1 set to failure, trying for 10 reps.

A: That’s a very basic routine, which can be good for adding muscle; however, you are neglecting to train certain muscle groups—hamstrings and abs—and I also think you could choose some better exercises.

In workout A it looks as if you’re training back, arms and calves, while workout B seems to focus on the quads, back, shoulders, chest and forearms.

I’m not sure why you are doing chinups at both workouts. You should include them in one routine but not both. Also, I recommend that you add more exercises to build more mass. I don’t think you will overtrain because the program is so limited.

If you’re going to build mass with a high-intensity-training approach and limit the sets to only one working set to failure, you need to use more of the basic exercises. Why not focus on the upper body in workout A and train legs and lower back in workout B? Here’s the routine I recommend:


Workout A

Barbell or dumbbell bench presses** 1 x 8

Incline dumbbell presses* 1 x 8

Chinups* 1 x 8

Barbell rows* 1 x 8

Seated military presses** 1 x 8

Triceps dips** 1 x 8

Barbell curls** 1 x 8


Workout B


Incline situps 2 x 30

Hanging knee raises 2 x 30

Squats** 1 x 10

Hack squats* 1 x 10

Stiff-legged deadlifts** 1 x 10

Standing calf raises** 1 x 12

* Plus one warmup set

** Plus two warmup sets


The goal of any HIT program is to increase the weights used or the number of reps performed each week for a set period—usually six to eight weeks. By limiting the sets, you should be able to get stronger each week. The exercises listed above are the best for building muscle and strength, as they are the most basic movements. They involve multiple bodyparts, which will translate to more strength and greater muscle tissue activation for you. Good luck!

Editor’s note: John Hansen has won the Mr. Natural Olympia and is a two-time Natural Mr. Universe winner. Check out his Web site at, or send questions or comments to [email protected] or at P.O. Box 320264, Tampa, FL 33679. Look for John’s DVD, “Natural Bodybuilding Seminar and Competitions,” along with his book, Natural Bodybuilding, and his training DVD, “Real Muscle,” at his Web site or at Home Gym Warehouse, Listen to John’s new radio show, “Natural Bodybuilding Radio,” at  IM




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