HIT MASS Program: 3 Day High Intensity Training Split

HIT MASS Program: 3 Day High Intensity Training Split
Achieve new gains with this high intensity workout. This HIT MASS 3 day split is perfect for beginners as well as lifters looking to bust through a plateau!

Workout Summary

Build Muscle
Split
Beginner
3
Barbell, Cables, Dumbbells, Machines
Male & Female

Workout Description

3 sets of 10, 4 sets of 12, most training systems out there are what is known as high volume.

You use several different exercises for 3-4 sets of moderate rep ranges like 8-12 in hopes to break down muscle tissue, so you can use nutrition and supplementation to recover and grow.

If you’re waiting for the knock on protocols like this, you’re going to wait a while because it obviously works.

However, just because one way works doesn’t mean it’s the only way.

HIT the Muscles a New Way

Let's cover a training style that has been proven to be successful, but is only discussed and used periodically. This system isn’t new. It was once popular during the golden era of bodybuilding, but now it only takes the spotlight when a new superstar is discovered and preaches about its greatness.

As the title of the article tells you, I’m talking about High Intensity Training and from here on out, it will be referenced in its abbreviated form of “HIT”.

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Whereas high volume training calls for several “work sets” where you push yourself to stimulate muscle, HIT calls for the lifter to perform 1-2 “warm up sets” with light to moderate weight before performing a single, all out work set.

When I say all out, I mean all out. You perform this set to absolute failure.

History of HIT

High Intensity Training was originally made famous by Arthur Jones in the 1970s. Although Jones is primarily known as the founder of HIT, it’s believed by some that HIT can be traced back to the 19th century and a doctor named Gustav Zander who created a method of training similar to HIT.

Related: How to Develop a Dramatic V Taper - Tips, Tricks, and Results

Jones claimed to have never knew of Zander when he came up with HIT. Jones’ theory was that performing brief but intense sets with maximum effort was what it took to achieve hypertrophy. As strength improved, the resistance increases and you work to overload the muscle so you can prevent plateaus and continue to improve.

Early versions of HIT routines called for tri-weekly, full body routines so each muscle group was targeted with minimum sets three times a week, and there was more emphasis placed on recovery.

Team Allmax Athlete Performing Dumbbell Curls

As years went by, other advocates of HIT would make changes that fit their individual needs. The most famous advocates of HIT that did this are the late Mike Mentzer and 6-time Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates.

Mentzer’s version of HIT was known as “Heavy Duty” training. He would perform two workouts which included 1-2 total sets of anywhere from four to six different exercises per bodypart. Each set was for 6-8 reps and that was it.

Yates would take the mantle of HIT in the 1990s and elevate it to new levels of popularity thanks to his version which was known as “Blood and Guts”. Yates would train one to two body parts a day and perform light to moderate sets before performing his all-out set to failure or beyond.

Going beyond failure included techniques such as drop sets, rest-pause, partials, and forced reps with emphasis on the negative portion of the rep. Blood & Guts is still recognized by many in the bodybuilding and fitness industry as the most popular and top version of HIT.

What all HIT Versions Have in Common

Although each major version of HIT had its own unique differences, they all had themes in common. These included making sure you used a full range of motion throughout the exercise, performed quality reps with focus on the negatives and time under tension, and that you MUST go to failure when performing the work set.

If you leave a rep or two in the tank then you didn’t do the job properly. There is also emphasis on recovery and allowing as much time as possible in between workouts so the muscles would be prepared for the next session and had maximum opportunity to improve.

This also means recovery between sets. High volume training normally includes 1-2 minute rest periods. HIT programs can have as long as five minutes between sets.

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Take HIT to the Gym

What follows will be a sample, three day a week, training routine for anyone interested in trying HIT for yourself. If you’ve never tried HIT before or are looking for something new to help you spark some muscle growth, this is for you.

If you’re advanced in HIT or are using a program that’s working for you right now, stick with what you’re doing until you feel like you hit a plateau. Then you can give this program a whirl for yourself.

This program will be a Monday, Wednesday, Friday program with Tuesday, Thursday, and weekends off. When I say off, I mean OFF. Stay away from the gym, don’t think about training, and make sure you stick with a sound nutrition/supplementation plan.

This is a four week program with the goals to be to introduce HIT into your training and create opportunities for hypertrophy.

Warming Up

You should dedicate the first 15 minutes of your training to warming up. This includes 5 minutes of light aerobic activity that works the whole body like skipping rope or hitting a heavy bag. Don’t go all out during this process. Our goals are to get blood moving and warming up the body.

The next 10 minutes should be on stretching the entire body from head to toe. After this 15 minute period, grab your BCAA drink of choice and hit the weight room.

One Last Point

You should definitely have a training partner or spotter that you really trust because you will go to failure. If you stop without needing assistance, you’re not following HIT correctly.

Have that person at the ready to spot you and help you get a couple of extra reps when you need it.

Allmax Athlete Showing off his gains from High Intensity Training

The HIT Program

You’ll look at this split and think it’s very basic and simple. You’re right. What you should know is that your effort will determine the success or failure of this program. That variable is the deciding factor. Each exercise will have three sets; warm-up, moderate, and your HIT set.

Your first set is the warm up set. Here you’ll use a light weight that you should have no problem handling throughout the set. The goal here is to focus on the mind-muscle connection and practicing that full range of motion throughout the rep.

If you’re performing a curl, make sure you’re using the biceps as much as you can without generating any swinging to create momentum. Lift it all the way up and lower it under control to the starting position while feeling your bicep working the entire time.

Related: Old School Gains - Build Muscle Like an Iron-Game Legend

Your second set is a moderate set. You’re going to go heavier but again, you should have no trouble finishing the set. You should have four to five more reps in the tank here. If the set calls for 10 reps, use a weight that you can do for 14-16 reps.

The third set is your HIT set. It’s go time. Pick a weight that you will struggle with to accomplish the rep goal. If you’re supposed to perform 8 reps, you better not be able to get 9 on your own. If you can, you went too light. If you’re a rep short, have your partner help you. Make sure you don’t go too heavy because you won’t get the desired effect and can risk injury.

You’ll rest for 3 minutes between each set and when you go from one exercise to the next. During this period, drink water or BCAA’s, stretch, and focus on what lies ahead. When you finish the last rep, get out of the gym and start taking your post-workout supplements.

Monday
Exercise Sets Reps
1. Incline Barbell Bench Press 3 12, 10, 6-8*
2. Dumbbell Fly 3 12, 10, 8-10*
3. Weighted Dip 3 12, 10, 8-10*
4. Lateral Raise 3 12, 10, 8-10*
5. Upright Row 3 12, 10, 10-12*
6. Lying Tricep Extensions 3 12, 10, 8-10*
7. Rope Pressdown 3 12, 10, 10-12*

*Last set is your all out HIT set to failure. Aim to pick a weight you will fail within the prescribed rep range.

Wednesday
Exercise Sets Reps
1. Leg Extension 3 15, 12, 10-12*
2. Squats 3 15, 12, 10-12
3. Leg Press 3 15, 12, 12*
4. Stiff Legged Deadlift 3 15, 12, 10-12*
5. Lying Leg Curl 3 15, 12, 10-12*
6. Seated Calf Raise 3 20, 15, 15*
7. Standing Calf Raise 3 20, 15, 15*

*Last set is your all out HIT set to failure. Aim to pick a weight you will fail within the prescribed rep range.

Friday
Exercise Sets Reps
1. Dumbbell Pullover 3 12, 10, 6-8*
2. Bent Over Barbell Row 3 12, 10, 8-10*
3. Reverse Grip Pulldown 3 12, 10, 8-10*
4. Barbell Curl 3 12, 10, 8-10*
5. Incline Dumbbell Curl 3 12, 10, 10-12*
6. Weighted Crunch 3 12, 10, 8-10*
7. Hanging Leg Raise** 3 12, 10, 10-12*

*Last set is your all out HIT set to failure. Aim to pick a weight you will fail within the prescribed rep range.
**Add weight to this exercise by holding a dumbbell with your feet.

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About The Author
Hardgainer and veteran fitness writer Roger "Rock" Lockridge started training in 1999, and has been featured in numerous publications and fitness sites.

12 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Tue, 04/11/2017 - 08:24
Timo

Hi there.
If possible, could you please show me a before-and-after picture of someone who took on this program. I would just like to know if it really is very effective.
Thank you.

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Posted Fri, 03/03/2017 - 18:21
Andy brooks

I 've followed the works of mentzer and Jones for 20 years.they were way ahead of there time.I love this protocol.you really have to adjust your frequency and duration with this kind of training.if not you can really cook your nervous system.I love it though

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Posted Sat, 04/08/2017 - 13:52
Roger Rock Lockridge

Hey Andy. Yes, Mentzer and Jones weren't only pioneers but innovaters. I appreciate your feedback and reading. Thanks for being a part of the M&S community.

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Posted Mon, 02/27/2017 - 13:43
Ezra

Hello,
Here's a printable & downloadable file for those asking, pay it forward
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B5imT-jUpBa4U2k2NGFkRTdaMGM

Enjoy

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Posted Mon, 02/27/2017 - 03:00
Rachel

I just looked at the HIT MASS Workout from you, looks very good but how can I download it and print it out?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 02/27/2017 - 09:40
JoshEngland

Hi Rachel,

We are looking to add printable versions of workouts to M&S in the very near future. I apologize for the inconvenience until then.

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Posted Mon, 02/20/2017 - 18:33
Roger Rock Lockridge

I appreciate M&S sharing my new article. There is also a 4 and 5 day split piece coming next month so if you're new to HIT, give this a go and stay tuned for the next one.

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Posted Sun, 02/26/2017 - 11:14
Lou

Can we get a printer friendly version of the 3 day and 5 day workout guide? That'd be awesome!

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 02/27/2017 - 09:39
JoshEngland

Hi Lou,

We're looking to add printable versions of workouts to the website in the very near future. I apologize for the inconvenience in the meantime.

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Posted Sun, 02/26/2017 - 12:08
Cassandr

Cool!! Looking forward to the 5day/split!

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 03/13/2017 - 11:54
JoshEngland

Hi Cassandr,

5 Day split is now live and can be found in the link below:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/hit-mass-4-5-day-splits

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Posted Sun, 02/26/2017 - 12:21
Frank

Thank rock! Can't wait to try this workout!!