As I’ve said on numerous occasions, whether you’re an advanced and devout weightlifter or simply a dedicated exerciser, high intensity strength training is the most time efficient, productive and safest method for gaining strength and adding muscle.
But eventually your gene pool speaks up and says, “Hey, if you want my co-operation you’re going to have to work much harder for it.” Or to put it another way, you reach a training plateau. This is the point where advanced high intensity training techniques can be used as plateau-busters.
Traditionally, advanced training techniques like ‘assisted training’ have been thrown into the mix to safely stimulate better strength building. But until recently the ultimate advanced technique – negative training – was simply too impractical to have wide application on the gym floor.
But in order to fully appreciate the many advanced techniques that have defined high intensity strength training, allow me first to chart their evolution.
From the muscle-bound 1960s to the lean and strong 2010s.
Prior to the 1970s the general public was largely disinterested in strength training. Weightlifting was seen as something both unnatural and unwarranted, and the clichéd muscle-bound look was simply not in vogue. As a consequence, gyms were small in number and only really catered to a few devoted weightlifters who kept to themselves.
Then in the early 1970s Arthur Jones introduced his revolutionary Nautilus® fitness machines. Because of Nautilus®, strength training gained huge popularity and birthed the fitness club industry of today. This popularity was partly due to the ease of learning and using the Nautilus machines, and partly because it required only three very brief workouts per week to realise its benefits.
Then, influenced by popular physique magazines of the time, men and women who enjoyed the rewards of brief, infrequent strength training began wanting more muscular size and development. They switched to free weights - the choice of resistance by bodybuilders - adopting more complicated and longer training regimes.
While such high volume programmes proved effective for enhancing muscular development and stature, they weren’t without two significant side effects. Firstly, they promoted a high rate of overuse injuries to muscles and joint structures and, secondly, they were very time-consuming. Sustaining an injury or not, most people found it difficult to maintain a training schedule that took eight times longer to perform compared to training on Nautilus machines!
In response to these issues, a number of exercise academics and researchers sought an equally effective, but more time-efficient training method that was high on results and low on injury. To this end, they revisited Arthur Jones’ fundamental strength training principles. What they found after reviewing and scrutinising three decades of strength training literature was that the results spoke for themselves – almost anyone can enhance strength and size with only two to three brief, high effort strength training sessions performed each week. And, in recent times, the consensus for embracing uncomplicated, time-efficient strength training is growing, especially for over 50s. The benefits of strong muscles for men and women are proven to be vast and, in the hierarchy of health pursuits, building stronger muscles is near the very top.
At the height of Nautilus’ popularity, Jones presented more challenging exercise protocols for advanced strength trainees who desired even greater levels of muscular strength and size. These techniques were collectively characterised by relatively high effort and short duration strength training, and became known as high intensity strength training1.
Many of these techniques are utilised today by members of BodyTech gym under the direct supervision of personal trainers. In fact, BodyTech’s personal training value proposition is summed up in three words – harder, shorter, fewer workouts.
The basic concept underlying most high intensity training techniques is to extend the exercise set in some way at the point of muscle fatigue to achieve an even greater strength-building stimulus. The deeper we can fatigue a muscle, the better the expected response.
During the past several decades of training, members of BodyTech Gym have not only realised better results through these highly effective muscle-stimulating techniques, but also enjoyed their motivating effects by keeping their workouts challenging.
And then there was X-Force™.
High intensity strength training has fast-tracked the rate of strength gain in beginners, as well as enabling experienced exercisers to exceed strength and muscular development plateaus. However out of all the high intensity strength training techniques, one stands head and shoulders above the rest.
X-Force™ negative training at BodyTech stimulates a deeper level of muscle fatigue, inducing a greater cascade of the positive responses we seek from strength training. This full body, high intensity strength training routine picks up where ordinary strength training leaves off and produces better, faster body composition changes than any research has ever previously documented.2
1 High Intensity Strength Training, 2003. Wayne L. Westcott
2 The Body Fat Breakthrough, Ellington Darden PhD, 2014