The Basic HIT Principle Is Wrong

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The Basic HIT Principle Is Wrong Empty The Basic HIT Principle Is Wrong

Post  Fitness Scientist on Fri May 14, 2010 9:29 am

The Basic HIT Principle Is Wrong

By Joe Mullen
Fitness Scientist

Bodybuilders, athletes, coaches, and fitness professionals have become increasingly aware of, and confused by, the potential benefits of negative strength training using machines or free weights.

The same can be said, however, of those who use free weights for attaining added size and strength. The major point of confusion centers on speed of movement during the positive and negative phase of the exercise.

Most of the "negative movement advocates”, and "one set to failure converts”, recommend a standard speed of movement, which takes two seconds to lift the resistance and four seconds to lower it.

The basic premise being: by controlling the movement, more muscle fibers are recruited; thereby placing a greater demand on the muscle structure which should enhance the potential for size and strength gains.

I contend that the basic premise, while correct when performing a "pure negative only movement," is wrong when applied to a movement that would be termed "standard exercise”.

Before I go on, let me define "standard" exercise movement and "negative only" exercise movement. A standard exercise is one in which the trainee performs both the positive (lifting) and negative (lowering) phases of the exercise without any assistance from a training partner.

When training with, what is called, "negative only movements" requires a training partner to lift the weight into position, and then, the trainee slowly lowers it to a count of about five seconds.

It is true that: if the proper weight is used, and it is controlled rather slowly, it can improve muscle fiber recruitment. The key words here are "proper weight." Obviously, proper weight means: a weight that is near the maximum, negative strength level of the muscle when performing a set of negative only repetitions.

A weight that is too light or beyond the ability of the muscle will prevent a proper exercise set, meaning: if the resistance is too light, it will not fire\contract, all the available muscle fibers..

During the performance of a standard exercise set, the resistance that will properly contract the muscle during the positive movement, is not heavy enough to fully contract the negative potential of the muscles. Even though you may lower it slowly.

Here is why! Science has established that the negative strength potential of a muscle is about 40 percent greater than its positive strength level. What I have never seen stated is: although the negative strength of muscles connected to one single joint is 40 percent; obviously, when the muscles connected to a multi-joint movement are tested for their negative strength potential, the negative strength is usually more than 40 percent.

So, for example, if you use 200 Lbs. when bench pressing, the resistance is adequate during the lifting movement, but inadequate during the lowering phase. It is about 80 Ibs. below what the muscle requires to be worked near the maximum negative strength ability.

Logic dictates that a weight that is 40 percent below the muscle capability can be practically ineffective; or at least a waste of valuable training time. It is not even possible to apply the recommendations of some strength training authorities, which are: that of using 80 percent of maximum because 40 percent less than 100 percent effort equals 60 percent.

The most novices among us would not recommend working with 60 percent below max and expect progress. Now, throw into the equation, the inherent problem of exercise machine use is friction. Friction, can work in your favor or against it depending on the movement being attempted.

For example: Dragging a 500 pound bag of cement up a 90 degree incline is much more difficult than slowly lowering it down the same incline, because of friction. In effect, the example holds true when using an exercise machine. Friction works "against" you when lifting the weight stack, making it heavier than it appears on the stack.

Friction, however, works "with" you on the lowering phase of the movement; it makes the resistance lighter than it appears on the stack. Therefore, there are two MAJOR problems to consider:

1. Is there any benefit to the muscle when using resistance that is 40 percent below its capability? No!

2. How much more than the agreed upon 40 percent is the weight stack lessened because of the internal friction of the machines operating parts? Probably not a great amount but at least some.

Now, combining these two problems, it is obvious that the resistance may be as much as 80 percent less than required; so, it can be concluded that: during a set of standard exercise movement, the negative movement should be of little concern.

It should be performed, meaning lowered as quickly, but as safely, as possible. In fact, the summation of muscle contraction between reps will be greater, if the time factor between the positive contract of reps is lessened. Moreover, the intensity of the workout will be increased.

You can prove this to yourself very quickly. Take any exercise in which you have been using a slower lowering speed of movement, say four seconds, than lifting speed of movement, say two seconds; an exercise that you have been working to failure on. Now, change nothing but the speed of movement during the negative phase (the lowering phase). Use about a two second lowering speed.

You will be surprised to find out that you will not perform as many reps, after you change the speed when lowering the resistance. This would indicate that the contractions are of a greater intensity, involving more muscle fibers, thereby making greater in roads into the true positive strength potential of the muscle.

Simple mathematics illustrates this point: A two second lifting and four second lowering speed take six seconds; using a two second speed each way requires only four seconds.

A saving of two seconds. Take two seconds off each rep in a set of 10 reps, and you save 20 seconds. Save that amount of seconds on every exercise, you do, and you can imagine the savings in workout time and increase in workout intensity.

A concept I call Dynamic Symmetry Contractions can be applied to this type of workout. Dynamic Symmetry Contractions means: contractions in which the positive and negative movements that are of equal time span; two seconds on the lifting and two seconds during the lowering phase. Do not pause at either the start or end of each rep; instead, keep the movements continuous, but controlled.

Try Dynamic Symmetry Contractions; stop wasting your time by slowly controlling the negative phase of a standard exercise movement, the resistance of which is too light to be effective. The results will speak for themselves.

(Editor's Inside Info: Joe Mullen is one of Muscle Training illustrated most popular authors. His features on exercise performance draw critical acclaim. For direct consultation write Joe at. [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

Joe Mullen
Fitness Scientist
My books at: [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

Last edited by Fitness Scientist on Sun Jun 06, 2010 9:28 pm; edited 1 time in total

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The Basic HIT Principle Is Wrong Empty Re: The Basic HIT Principle Is Wrong

Post  AceHIT on Sun Jun 06, 2010 1:49 pm

I am surprised not a single poster has commented on this excellent article.

The article provides food for thought and debate and I can't see how posters on here can complain of lack of things to discuss when each of Mr Mullen's articles is a forest of information in its own right!


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