Four Hours A What?

Joe trains less than four hours a month

Joe gains muscle while maintaining a single digit bodyfat percentage training less than four hours a month

I’m probably starting to sound like a broken record, but if you don’t take anything else away from anything I’ve written here remember this; the keys to progress are to train very hard, very briefly, and give your body adequate time for recovery between workouts. Stated differently, the worst mistakes you can make with your training are to do too much, too often, but not hard enough.

Unfortunately, these three mistakes are the most common.

It’s not unusual for people who don’t know any better to boast to friends and acquaintances about the amount of time they spend in the gym or “working out” each week. Never mind that most of their time is spent looking at themselves in the mirror or socializing, they’re putting in the hours, and in their minds that equates to dedication.

While dedication is usually admirable, in this case it is just misguided. They are operating under the assumption results from exercise are proportional to the time invested or the volume of work performed, and that by spending more time they will produce greater results. Many also believe it is necessary to perform several different types of activities to improve different aspects of fitness; resistance training for muscular strength and endurance, steady-state activities or interval training for cardiovascular and metabolic conditioning, stretching for flexibility, etc.

All of this adds up to a lot of weekly hours in the gym.

On the low end, the American College of Sports Medicine’s current physical activity guidelines recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity steady-state activity five days a week (60 to 90 for those needing to lose fat) and 30 minutes of strength training twice weekly, for a total of around 4 hours per week. On the higher end, some bodybuilding programs require up to 10 hours or more.

Whether you’re a bodybuilder or athlete or someone just trying to get fit or lose a bit of fat, the actual amount of weekly exercise required for optimum results is far less.

How much less? On average only four hours a month. Not four hours a week, but four hours a month. And this assumes you’re training in a gym during peak hours where crowds and inefficient equipment layouts increase the time it should take to get through a workout. If you go during off-peak hours, have a home gym or have personal training in a private high intensity training studio you can cut that time by half or more.

There are several reasons for this:

  1. Exercise does not directly produce any improvements, it stimulates the body to produce them as an adaptive response. For this to occur the body must be allowed adequate time to recover from the stress of the workout and produce the improvements. Depending on the individual, the intensity of training and other factors this process can require anywhere from a few days to a week or longer. If too much exercise is done too frequently the cumulative stress will exceed body’s ability to recover and adapt and rather than improve you will plateau or get weaker.
  2. The degree to which the body is stimulated to improve is proportional to how intensely you train – not how much you do or how long you work out – and there is an inverse relationship between the intensity and volume of exercise. The harder you train the less is required and the longer the recovery needed between workouts.
  3. High intensity strength training will improve cardiovascular and metabolic conditioning better than moderate-intensity steady-state activity making it unnecessary to perform additional activities for that purpose.
  4. As long as exercises for all the major muscle groups and involving all the major joints are performed through a full range of motion flexibility will also be improved making additional stretching unnecessary.
  5. Neither moderate-intensity steady-state or high intensity interval training (AKA “cardio”) are necessary for or make a significant contribution to fat loss. The muscle-preserving, metabolic and hormonal effects of even very brief and infrequent high intensity strength training contribute far more to improving body composition.

How can this be done in only four hours a month? Consider the following basic workouts, which address all major muscle groups.

 

Joe doing weighted chin ups

Drew Baye coaches Joe on weighted chin ups on the Nautilus Omni Multi Exercise

With free weights and body weight:

  1. Barbell Squat
  2. Chin Up
  3. Barbell Press
  4. Dumbbell One-Legged Calf Raise
  5. Barbell Row
  6. Dip or Bench Press
  7. Stiff-Legged Deadlift
  8. Weighted Crunch
  9. Barbell Wrist Curl
  10. Barbell Wrist Extension

With machines:

  1. Leg Press
  2. Close, Underhand-Grip Pulldown
  3. Shoulder Press
  4. Calf Raise
  5. Seated Row
  6. Chest Press or Seated Dip
  7. Back Extension
  8. Abdominal Flexion
  9. Wrist Curl (Nautilus Super Forearm or Cable Machine)
  10. Wrist Extension(Nautilus Super Forearm or Cable Machine)

Only one set of each exercise is necessary. If the first set is done properly more sets will not improve your results but will increase fatigue and add to the limited amount of stress your body can recover from.

Using a slow, controlled speed of movement, a set of 7 to 10 repetitions should only take around 50 to 80 seconds, averaging a little over one minute per exercise. Even if you rest for two full minutes between exercises, your total workout time would be just under 30 minutes. Done twice weekly – which is plenty if you’re training hard enough – this amounts to less than four hours a month.

If you work out at home or train in a private studio the rest and set-up time between exercises can be reduced significantly, cutting the time required for the above workouts down to less than 15 minutes. Advanced trainees or those working out with an experienced HIT trainer may require even fewer exercises, in some cases as little as 3 to 5.

What can a person expect from training only four hours a month?

Tim Ferriss: 34 Pounds of Muscle in 4 Weeks

Tim Ferriss: 34 Pounds of Muscle in 4 Weeks

Timothy Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Work Week gained 34 pounds of muscle in four weeks using this approach, with only four hours of training. He covers his training and diet in detail in his upcoming book The 4-Hour Body, which also features yours truly in the section on abdominal training.

When I first started doing high intensity training using Mike Mentzer’s Heavy Duty I also trained twice weekly on even shorter routines and gained nearly 30 pounds of muscle over a period of six months. I’ve had several male clients consistently gain a pound of muscle or more weekly over their first few months of training. One man I trained gained 8 pounds of muscle during his first three weeks of training.

I’ve had men and women lose huge amounts of fat training less than four hours a month as well, including one woman who lost over 100 pounds in a year and a man who lost over 30 pounds in two months.

Many people have been getting excellent results following the Body by Science program which involves once weekly 12 minute workouts. That’s less than 10 hours per year. And they’re getting better results than people training as many hours per week following conventional bodybuilding programs.

I train twice weekly, alternating between the following workouts, each of which usually takes about 10 to 12 minutes to complete including set up but can be finished in under 6 minutes if I rush between exercises. The specialization routine is included in every second or third rotation.

Workout A:

  1. Barbell Squat
  2. Weighted Chin Up (Nautilus Omni Multi Exercise)
  3. Standing Barbell Press
  4. Wrist Curl (Nautilus OME)
  5. Wrist Extension(Nautilus OME)

Workout B:

  1. Shrug Bar Deadlift
  2. Weighted Dip(Nautilus OME)
  3. Arm Curl(Nautilus OME)
  4. Standing Calf Raise (Nautilus OME)
  5. Ivanko Super Gripper

Arm/Shoulder Specialization:

  1. Negative-Only Weighted Chin Ups (10 second negatives)
  2. Negative-Only Weighted Dips (10 second negatives)
  3. Arm Curls
  4. Tricep Extensions
  5. Dumbbell Lateral Raise

Not including the minute or so it takes to load the bars or set up the multi-exercise, the total time for each of the above workouts the last cycle was 10:00, 9:48 and 9:21. My total training time for a month is less than 90 minutes.

If you’re not currently working out because you thought you don’t have the time, now you know you do. If you still have doubts the only thing you have to lose by trying for just one month is four hours. What you have to gain, however, is invaluable. Proper exercise can literally change your life.

If you’re currently spending several hours a week in the gym and not just because you enjoy the social atmosphere (some people just like hanging out in gyms, which is fine) take a week or two off (you’re probably overtrained and need the recovery time) then drop the “cardio” and just do two hard strength training workouts a week for a month or two instead. If you don’t get better results (you will) or if you’re really addicted to the endorphin fix of “cardio” or really do just like hanging out at the gym you can always go back to what you were doing before.

However, if you’ve been working out for more than an hour or two a day most days of the week you have even more to gain from cutting back than the people who haven’t been working out will gain from starting; not only will your results improve, you’ll also get back irreplaceable time that can be better spent with family and friends or pursuing other interests.

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48 Responses to Four Hours A What?

  1. Thomas October 30, 2010 at 9:35 am #

    Nice article (again)-people just cannot believe me when I tell them I work out 1-1.5 hours per week (depending on wait time at my gym). It is very appealing to most, however, who have active lives and costs a lot less if you hire a trainer. I find average people need a trainer to do HIT style workouts (in the beginning at least) because they just aren’t used to working out hard enough. So, everyone benefits-trainers should never have a lack for clients with this system, and trainees should never be too busy to train. I only train a handfull of people on the side, but they are all very pleased with HIT/BBS and still find it almost too good to be true.

    I mentioned in a previous post that you should write about training seniors. Another great area to cover would be rehab, failed rehab (traditional) or post rehab training HIT style. With your experience, I’m sure you have done a lot of rehab training (it’s almost inevitable eventually). I think HIT, if done right, may be more effective than traditional PT in many situations. Or at least a better tactic to get the client fully recovered after traditional PT has been performed.

  2. Fabio October 30, 2010 at 1:36 pm #

    Drew, when you rush between exercises, do you decrease the weights on your routines?

    Thanks

    • Drew Baye October 30, 2010 at 8:55 pm #

      Fabio,

      I keep the weight the same even if I rush between exercises.

  3. Diógenes October 30, 2010 at 7:59 pm #

    Nice article, when I say to other people that I spend just one hour twice a week in the gym they don’t believe me. I’ve made great progress with HIT though my diet is not state of the art. What I find most interesting is that some people I know think I’m on roids because my progress has been so fast.

  4. Dwayne Wimmer October 30, 2010 at 8:07 pm #

    Drew,

    Another GREAT post!!

    In response to Thomas. At Vertex Fitness, we work with seniors and clients doing post rehab workouts and I can not agree with you more more. These populations benefit as much as any other. Accually, in my 22+ years using this protocol, I have not found a population that does not respond in a positive way to a properly applied HIT routine. The only problem I have had has been with the medical community that does not understand exercise. Unfortunatly most patients believe the medical professional, who on most cases have no idea about exercise, and this prolongs recovery and or progress. The problem, as I see it, is that the exercise industry is very young and we have too many self proclaimed experts in the industry putting clients in harms way. If the medical community would stop seeing patients coming from these so called experts, they may start seeing our industry as a viable profession. This will not happen until we get rid the snake oil salesman in our industry who keep doing out dated exercise protocol and routines that keep putting people infront of the medical community.

  5. Craig Murway October 30, 2010 at 8:17 pm #

    Drew,

    as always great article!

    Sincerely,
    Craig

  6. Jakob October 31, 2010 at 5:28 pm #

    So Tim Ferriss did all 10 exercises in one workout, am I right?

    • Drew Baye October 31, 2010 at 5:51 pm #

      Jakob,

      No, Tim wrote he only did between 4 and 7 exercises per workout; “Focus on no more than 4-7 multi-joint exercises (leg press, trap bar deadlift, overhead press, Yates bent row, dips, incline machine benchpress, etc.)”

      The ten-exercise free weight and machine workouts were included in the article as examples of full body workouts that can be completed in under 30 minutes in a typical gym setting.

  7. Steven Turner November 1, 2010 at 11:51 pm #

    Hi Drew,

    Over the last few years I have been conducting my own research on heart rate training, as I have mentioned before I teach fitness courses and have many different genetic types individuals to conduct research on.

    What I have found in relation to heart rate training and I must state the results are “generalisations” but typical results of most trainees.

    High Intensity Interval Training – Running on the flat with a set of stairs for approximately 6 x 1 minute 30 seconds intervals with a two minute rests between or heart rate recovery to 100bpm-110bpm. Most people could reach a heart rates between 160bpm-180bpm but what was interesting was that in the first two intervals the HR reached were no higher than 150bpm, intervals 3 and 4 HR reached a peak of 160bpm-180bpm, intervals 5 and 6 HR lowered to 150bpm and below. In all intervals the HR only reached the higher end in the last 30-40 seconds before all trainees were forced to rest and recover. Total time training time approximately 24-30 minutes with heart rates reaching 160 or above for 2-3 minutes in total.

    High Intensity Training – “resistance”. Clients heart rates reach a high of 160bpm-180bpm after the first couple of exercises of approximately 1 minute 30 seconds per exercise to muscular failure for approximately 20-26 minutes never going below 160 bpm for the entire workout. I have trained some people up to 30 minutes with HR above 160 but find any longer than 30 minutes and they fatigue.

    Circuit weight training of one hour duration (done in most gyms) trainees sometimes reach a peak heart rate of 120bpm-140bpm but peak HR is only maintained for a short period of time for the hole hour higher heart rate approximately 3-5 minutes.

    My research confirmed many of the results achieved in 1975 Project Total Conditioning conducted by Arthur Jones and his Nautilus team conducted West Point Military Academy.

    I must reiterate that my research is conducted by myself and are genralisations.

    • Drew Baye November 2, 2010 at 10:41 am #

      Thanks Steven,

      Most people who have never done a proper high intensity training workout are very skeptical about it’s value for metabolic and cardiovascular conditioning because they’ve bought into the idea one must do “cardio” for that purpose. Whatever doubts they have are usually put to rest by the time they’re half way through the workout.

  8. Ray November 2, 2010 at 12:59 pm #

    Hi Drew, like the article. I’ve been following you/your site since I came across an ad for a SS training gym about a couple years ago. Glad I saw that ad otherwise I still might be training ‘the old fashioned way’.
    I’ve been training using Body by Science method for almost two years. I liked it because of the minimal gym time required and the metabolic results.
    In the last several months, I’ve noticed that I’m not really gaining in strength. My guess is that I might not be training hard enough (I train by myself). I always go to failure, but maybe that ‘failure’ isn’t quire 100% because I don’t have anyone pushing me. I decided to try different exercises in hopes that mixing it up might help. I don’t know if it’s really helped. I’m ok with my physical appearance, but would like to see some strength increases.
    Would you suggest I try a twice a week routine or something else, see if that helps? Thanks in advance for any advice you can provide. Ray

    • Drew Baye November 2, 2010 at 5:10 pm #

      Ray,

      If you were making progress previously and your intensity level is the same it is probably not the limiting factor. I recommend taking two weeks off to allow plenty of time for recovery then see if your strength has increased. If it has, then you need to either reduce your volume slightly or start adding an additional day or two of rest between workouts.

      As Arthur Jones said, “In the case of exercise, more is seldom the solution and is frequently the problem.”

  9. Ray November 2, 2010 at 5:35 pm #

    Thanks Drew, I was afraid that might be your response. It’s hard to wrap my mind around taking anymore time off than I already do (6-7 days), but I’ve heard this advice before on Doug’s site, so I’d better give it a chance.

  10. CMC November 2, 2010 at 6:20 pm #

    Hi Drew,

    what of the notion that a muscle becomes desensitized to a current amount of work (and intensity) over time and that simply more volume is needed, especially as the limit of muscular potential approaches?

    I never cared much for ads,or people talking in general about how much they grew when they first started training. There’s lots of programs out there that can get beginners to grow. I’m more interested in what is best to do as someone nears their muscular potential, hence the question above.

    Not to pick on you, but since you used yourself as an example – how much more muscle would you estimate you gained after those first 6 months?

    • Drew Baye November 2, 2010 at 7:05 pm #

      CMC,

      The idea that more volume is needed by advanced trainees is backwards. If you are training intensely enough to stimulate significant strength and size gains you will very quickly reach a point of diminishing returns as volume increases and the harder you train the less exercise you need and the less exercise you can tolerate. As a trainee becomes more advanced they are handling progressively heavier weights, pushing themselves progressively harder, and becoming more skilled at getting the most out of every inch of every rep of every exercise. As their workouts become more demanding they need to cut back their volume and frequency, not increase it.

      Also, although mechanical definitions of work and power don’t directly correlate to metabolic work, the following example may help; even if the average number of exercises and reps per workout stays the same, as a trainee uses progressively heavier weights the work performed increases because work is the product of force (equal to the resistance provided by the weights) x displacement (the distance the weights are moved, or in this case lifted over some number of reps). If you double the weights you use, you double the volume of work performed. Although the correlation is not direct, there is a relationship between mechanical and metabolic work, and if you double the work you are going to significantly increase the demand on the body, increasing the need for recovery.

      The interesting thing about the muscle I gained when I started doing HIT is that was after I had already been training consistently for nearly six years, so I was not a beginner. I followed various high volume programs from high school football coaches and bodybuilding magazines since my freshman year of high school and despite thousands of hours in the gym I had little to show for it. It took a huge reduction in volume for me to start putting on a decent amount of muscle mass.

      Since then the biggest I have been is 202 – which is decent for being 5’7″ with a small frame – but that was also around 15% bodyfat which is fatter than I care to be.

  11. CMC November 2, 2010 at 8:19 pm #

    Drew,

    I’ve been reading Darden’s books and Jones’ writing for over 20 years. I’m familiar with typical HIT advice on intensity & recovery. I do appreciate you said it to make your point about relative work load, but I find your analogy of ‘double the weights, double the work, more recovery time needed’ as specious since by the time you double the weights you’re using, you have an entirely different body with which to deal with ‘double’ the muscular loading.

    Do you know of any research to show how the body needs less exercise as it approaches muscular potential?

    • Drew Baye November 2, 2010 at 9:24 pm #

      A reduction in volume and frequency is necessitated by increases in training intensity, not one’s proximity to their muscular potential. However, a person will reach their muscular potential more quickly training more intensely, so it’s natural to make an association between the two.

      Work capacity improves with strength as one’s training progresses, but this does not translate to being able to recover from an increasing demand over the same period of time, and this is not what I’ve experienced training hundreds of people over the past two decades.

      There are no studies specifically showing the body requires less exercise as it approaches it’s muscular potential for a variety of reasons, not the least of which are the prohibitively long time required to perform such a study and the ability to accurately predict the muscular potential of a large number of diverse subjects. A published study is not necessary however, as this is obvious to anyone who has trained enough people over a long enough period of time and understands the relationship between intensity and volume of exercise and the need for recovery. If a trainee’s progress slows significantly or they plateau a brief layoff followed by a reduction in either the volume or frequency of training or both solves the problem, but when someone starts doing additional workouts or increases the time spent performing some other demanding physical activity their progress slows down or stops.

      Unfortunately, most studies comparing different volumes and frequencies of training are not terribly useful because the subjects – often working out without proper instruction, supervision or motivation – are not training at anything even remotely approaching the level of effort I would consider “high intensity”. The fact that such studies still tend to show no significant difference in results between single set and multiple set training is just further proof additional volume is of little benefit for muscular size and strength increases.

  12. Shane Duquette November 4, 2010 at 8:45 pm #

    Great article. Can’t wait to read your section on abdominal exercises in Tim’s upcoming book. Got one of his signed copies pre-ordered.

    Read your comment on his blog. Strangely enough, without having seen it, we “followed” all of your before/after photography advice to T:

    90 day before and afters (Tim’s poses):
    http://foxhoundstudio.com/blog/fitness-lifestyle/lean-to-mean-90-days-vid-pics/

    120 day before and afters (with 8 mandatory bodybuilding poses)
    http://foxhoundstudio.com/blog/fitness-lifestyle/lean-to-mean-finale-a-summers-worth-of-packing-on-muscle-and-tearing-off-fat-from-bony-to-beastly/

    Great photography advice. I wish more people took it that seriously.

    My best,
    Shane

    • Drew Baye November 4, 2010 at 10:05 pm #

      Shane,

      You guys did a great job with your photos and your training and dieting efforts are reflected in your results. It’s unfortunate more people don’t appreciate the need for standardization when taking comparison photos.

  13. Andy November 11, 2010 at 2:18 pm #

    Drew,

    thank you very much for all your interesting and helpful information!
    I´m really waiting for your upcoming book.

    An issue I´m confused about is exercise variety.
    Many training experts say, like e.g. Brian Johnston, in order to maximize muscle hypertrophy, variety is an absolute necessity…no workout should be the same than the previous one, according to exercise selection, exercise order, use of intensity variables etc..
    If a trainee stays on a non-varying routine for months after months he will get stronger due to inter- and intramuscular improvement, but will do little for optimizing his physique.
    He will simply get proficient at executing these specific exercises in this specific manner, but his body will not or only marginally change.

    What do you think about exercise variety, if maximizing muscle hypertrophy is the absolute goal number 1 and strength gain only a secondary goal?

    Best wishes from Germany,
    Andy

    • Drew Baye November 19, 2010 at 10:10 pm #

      Andy,

      Variety is not absolutely necessary to maximize hypertrophy. The idea that one stops adapting to a particular exercise after a period of time because they have maximized skill or “intermuscular coordination” is wrong. If a person is performing enough exercises to effectively address all the major muscle groups to begin with very little variation is necessary over time, and what variation is necessary is not due to the body becoming resistant to stimulation from a specific exercise.

      If you are training for hypertrophy your goal is to become as strong as possible. The idea one should train differently for hypertrophy and strength is nonsense. The degree of hypertrophy occurring with a particular degree of strength varies significantly between individuals, which has caused some to believe this is the case, but it’s not. If you become as strong as you are capable of you will also be as muscular as your genetics will allow.

  14. Donnie Hunt November 20, 2010 at 11:58 pm #

    Hi Drew, This is regarding what you said about the differences in hypertrophy that will occur in different people. I know for myself and probably most of the people posting on here we care about the way our muscles look. We may sometimes not be happy with the way a certain muscle or muscle group develops even though we are getting stronger. Mike Mentzer made a comment about this in one of his articles once that I feel really applies here. He talked about how some of his clients made huge improvements in strength and not much to show in hypertrophy. Some his clients would also complain about there “bad” genetics of not having the aesthetically pleasing look of certain bodyparts. Mike said something along the lines of what about people that are born without certain limbs or are handicapped in some way where they can’t use certain limbs. If you have a body that has all of it’s working limbs where do you get off complaining about having “bad” genetics!? Not trying to be preachy here, just some things to think about.

    • Drew Baye November 21, 2010 at 3:00 pm #

      Donnie,

      Thank you for bringing this up. We should focus on maximizing our own potential, whatever that is, rather than comparing ourselves to others because while there is always someone out there who is bigger, more muscular, has better abs or arms or whatever, there are also a lot of people out there who would be happy to just be able to move their hands.

      A paraplegic client once told me how during recovery from the car accident that paralyzed her legs she felt depressed and sorry for herself. Then one day in rehab another patient who was a quadriplegic asked if she could scratch his nose for him, which made her appreciation for what mobility she still had. She eventually made it to the US Paralympics basketball team and competed in the Paralympics games in ’96 and ’00 and won the gold at the ’04 in Athens. In all the time I trained her she never, ever complained about injury, much less her genetics. What she did do was bust her ass on each and every exercise, each and every workout with a level of determination that would put most trainees to shame.

  15. Andy November 21, 2010 at 5:44 pm #

    Drew,

    thank you for your clear statement!

    Andy

  16. Andy November 21, 2010 at 6:52 pm #

    Drew,

    after some thoughts about your comment concerning exercise variety:

    If I use e.g. squats for maximizing quadriceps hypertrophy and use it for maybe three years in a row without ever using another quadriceps exercise and am finally as strong in squats as my genetics will allow, my quadriceps will be as big as my genetics will allow??
    Using maybe 5 or 6 other non-changing!! basic exercises (bench presses, rows, biceps curls etc.) for the rest of my body and finally getting as strong as ever possible in these exercises, I will also have maximized hypertrophy for these muscles?? Without ever using another exercise??

    Andy

    • Drew Baye November 21, 2010 at 7:12 pm #

      Andy,

      Perhaps not 100%, but pretty damned close. Re-read what I said,

      “If a person is performing enough exercises to effectively address all the major muscle groups to begin with very little variation is necessary over time, and what variation is necessary is not due to the body becoming resistant to stimulation from a specific exercise.”

      I didn’t say no variation, I said “very little”. While a few basic exercises are all that is required to effectively work all the major muscle groups some exercises will work some muscles more effectively than others and some individuals may need to perform isolation movements for certain bodyparts.

      What is wrong is the idea that variation in and of itself provides any physiological advantage over long term progression on a more consistent selection of exercises and routines.

  17. Andy November 22, 2010 at 12:12 pm #

    Drew,

    again thank you very much!

    Andy

  18. Donnie Hunt November 22, 2010 at 2:21 pm #

    Drew, That is a very inspiring story about the olympian. Certainly puts things into perspective.

  19. Petrus November 23, 2010 at 4:42 am #

    Hi Drew

    Thanks for all the great info on your website. This article, like all the other ones, is great.
    I have also been converted from 6 days a week training (after about 20 years)to a max of 2 times a week training. My results are the best ever!
    No workout lasts longer than 25 minutes!

    I would like to ask you a question unrelated to this article.
    What is your opinion about Hammer Strength machines for HIT?
    We are starting a small gym and I am looking at buying equipment, and I would appreciate your imput!

    Kind Regards

    Petrus
    (all the way from South Africa)

    • Drew Baye November 23, 2010 at 9:46 am #

      Petrus,

      I’m glad you like the articles and hope your training has benefited from them.

      If you want plate-loaded equipment Hammer Strength machines are great, but I like the Pendulum Strength Systems machines better.

  20. Petrus November 24, 2010 at 2:35 am #

    Hi Drew

    Thanks so much, I don’t know whether I will be able to get hold of Pendulum Strength Systems in South Africa, but I will sure give it a try!!

    And yes, my traing has certainly benefitted from your advice, I am 1.74 m tall, weigh 90 Kg, my upper arms are 42 cm flexed (16.8 inches), my calves 41 cm.

    But like all muscle heads I aspire for more!

    Kind Regards

    Petrus

  21. Jack December 1, 2010 at 1:05 pm #

    Tim also claims that he took at least 3minutes between exercises. As far as i know, Body by Science teached me to take no break in between. Whats your opinion on that and why?

    • Drew Baye December 3, 2010 at 12:29 am #

      Jack,

      If your primary goal is increased muscular strength and size I recommend waiting just long enough between exercises for the breathing to start to slow down a little so overall conditioning isn’t as much of a limiting factor during exercises. If you are more concerned with improving overall strength and conditioning you should attempt to reduce the rest between exercises as much as possible.

  22. Robby December 2, 2010 at 12:45 pm #

    Hello Drew,

    Very informative and fresh article. I will definitely give this a try and see what happens.

    My only concern is the supposed results. 34 pounds of muscle in 4 weeks?
    Forgive me if I come across the wrong way but those results sound…improbable, no matter how genetically efficient ones body is for weight lifting. I feel that if one NATURALLY gains that much in a month, its probably a combination of water, fat, and a little muscle.

    From what I’ve researched, it takes quite a while to build permamnet muscle (I.e. 10lbs to 15lbs per year)
    Is that honestly possible to see gains of 34lbs in a month with this regimen?? Or even 8 pounds in 3 weeks? Im just a little skeptical right now.

    (still going to try the workout though to test it)

    Robby

    • Drew Baye December 2, 2010 at 1:41 pm #

      Robby,

      While the possible rate of muscle gain varies considerably between individuals, on average it is much higher than 10 to 15 pounds a year for a beginner, or for someone regaining a previously attained level of development after a long layoff from training. I suspect most people have very low expectations from training because their own training is relatively ineffective. In my experience, the average person can gain at least 10 to 15 pounds of muscle in their few months of training if they train and eat properly.

      I mention Casey Viator, Tim Ferriss and Joe because they are examples of what is possible with proper training. If you’d like to read more, Ellington Darden’s bodybuilding books contain numerous examples of individuals who have made exceptional gains with brief, infrequent high intensity training programs. A more typical result would be a gain of 1 to 2 pounds per week for the first few months of training.

  23. Jordan D. December 2, 2010 at 4:43 pm #

    Drew, how is muscle gain measured? How can one differentiate between muscle gain and fat gain, water weight, etc.?

    • Drew Baye December 2, 2010 at 10:52 pm #

      Jordan,

      By comparing changes in weight and body composition you can estimate muscle versus fat gain. As long as there are no significant changes in diet or fluid intake a change in hydration can be ruled out as a large part of a change in weight.

  24. Robby December 29, 2010 at 3:27 pm #

    Hi Drew,

    Interesting. Thanks for the reply and the reading suggestions!

    Robby

  25. Jonathan February 5, 2011 at 1:03 pm #

    This is a very interesting article Drew. I work out frequently and try my best to eat somewhat healthy, which doesn’t often work out too well. I was curious if diet and exercise played a big role in the gain of lean muscle when using this workout. Also were there any supplements used during this training, like protein, creatine, NO boosters, or whatever others out there.

    • Drew Baye February 7, 2011 at 10:56 pm #

      Jonathan,

      Diet plays a huge role in both muscle gain and fat loss, but no supplements are required. If you’re already eating a well balanced diet you don’t need them, and most are a waste of money. If you’re serious about getting results from your program stop “trying your best” and just make a commitment to yourself to do it.

  26. Andy February 6, 2011 at 11:36 am #

    Hi Drew,

    I remember a HIT bodybuilder, named Bill Sahli, suggesting to use his “2 Day Rule”…waiting after a training session until you feel 100% recovered, muscularily and mentally. At that point you have compensated. But we not only want to compensate, but to overcompensate and lay down new muscle. So at that point wait another 2 Days until you train again.
    For me that´s pretty logical and takes into account the principle of individuality.
    Takes into account your individual recovery ability at any point of time, depending on daily life stressors, age, hormonal status, nutritional status, intensity of previous training session etc..
    I just can say about my own: I have more to learn about exactly listening to my own biofeedback.
    I think then training will be more rewarding and successful than mainly relying on numbers on my training chart.
    What do you think about this suggestion to flexibly regulate training frequency? Maybe this means in week1 you train 2x and the next just 1x or 1x every 9 times?
    Andy

    • Drew Baye February 7, 2011 at 10:52 pm #

      Andy,

      While this may work, it is somewhat subjective. While a person shouldn’t train if they don’t feel fully recovered, a better way to determine an effective frequency for the individual is to keep records of workout performance. If progress slows down and there are no problems with the diet, sleep, or other factors, take a brief layoff from training then resume with an additional day of recovery between workouts.

  27. Andy February 8, 2011 at 1:36 pm #

    Thank you very much, Drew!

    Andy

  28. Drew Baye February 8, 2011 at 2:21 pm #

    You’re welcome!

  29. Zach Thomas September 10, 2011 at 11:41 pm #

    Hi Drew Baye,

    I like the idea of this HIT, but what type of supplements do you take? Also do you think you would have the stamina to play a full sports game like soccer, football, or basketball without sucking wind too hard? Also do you have current pictures of you I can find? Thanks! (I currently workout 3-4 days a week for about 30 minutes (including rest times) and I really like my results and I don’t take any supplements, and I only use bodyweight/self-resistance exercises at a high intensity always.

    • Drew Baye September 11, 2011 at 11:57 am #

      Zach,

      I have no problem maintaining a high level of effort during two-hour martial arts classes or hour long parkour sessions. I have taken creatine, fish oil, multivitamins and vitamin D3 in the past, but am currently taking no supplements at all and have noticed no negative effects on performance or appearance. Diet makes a far bigger difference.

      You could cut your training back to just twice weekly and get the same or better results. Almost all the research on frequency shows no significant improvements in either strength or conditioning with more than one or two weekly workouts, and over the past two decades I’ve had many clients who have gotten better results training with me for only half an hour once or twice weekly after having worked with other personal trainers who had them training for an hour or more three to five days per week.

  30. Sandor November 28, 2012 at 8:36 pm #

    Hi Drew!
    Great article, I really appreciate your work and agree with your overall approach regarding strength training and exercise in general. When I find contradictory information, I always come here for reference.

    I recently started to read Body By Science, and I thought I would ask you something regarding a chapter I just got to, more precisely at “The Dose-Response Relation of Exercise” chapter, “Recovery of fibers” part.

    I understand that the fast-twitching fibers require the most time to recover (several days), while the slow-twitching fibers can recover in a few minutes. That is the reason you don’t train 5 times a week if you are doing HIT.

    My question is the following:

    What do you think about continuing to train, but with lower intensity, so you only train your slow-twitching fibers, until your fast-twitching fibers are regenerating? For example, on Day1 you do a full body HIT, then for the next 4-10 days you continue training with a lower intensity, allowing the FT’s to recover, than you start over with Day1…Wouldn’t that help if someone wants to achieve maximal results (strength/muscle growth improvement) in shorter time?

    • Drew Baye November 29, 2012 at 9:54 am #

      Sandor,

      No, because there is no way for an individual to know their exact fiber type make up, no way to know at what point they start to recruit intermediate and fast twitch fibers, and the additional demands of the extra workouts will affect overall recovery.

      It is always best to err on the conservative side with volume and frequency. If your body is capable of handling X volume of exercise for Y frequency training with slightly more might result in faster gains for a brief period but you will plateau due to overtraining. Training with slightly less than X volume and Y frequency might result in slower gains initially but your long term progress will be more consistent and your overall improvement will be greater.

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