HIT Training

The Day HIT Training – Hit Me – Literally

Looking in my journal, Thursday 1 September 2000.  I can remember the day like it was yesterday.  It was a nice, end of the summer evening as my training partner,s Rob and Chris, pulled down a back street in Barnsley, England.  We were looking for a small gym that a buddy of mine had been training in for 12 or so weeks, when he turned up for a workout at my place, Future Bodies in Morley, Leeds at the time – I could not believe the gains he had made.  He told me about a couple in Barnsley that had trained him H.I.T (high intensity training) style.  One phone call and days later, there we were.

As I understood, it was very small, and down behind a row of tenement houses.  All we could see was rows of garages, nothing anywhere to indicate a gym.  Then I noted one of the dilapidated garages had one of its black wooden double doors open a little, my first thought was to see if anyone was in there, so I got out of the car and headed towards it.  As I got closer I could see the familiar steel box section that everyone that loves weights can spot a mile off, as a bench or rack.

I waved the lads to get out of the car and we made our way to a small double garage.  Inside we found some heavy steel homemade equipment spread around the outside of a huge hole in the middle of the floor.  Everything looked homemade and heavy, apart from an old Nautilus Leg Extension sort of perched right over the hole.  Little did we know we were in HELL.  Mick and Sue Moran greeted us ‘in hell’.  A couple, in their 50’s, Mick a thick set guy, kind of tough looking and Sue a quiet spoken women that betrayed how evil a streak run through her.  My buddies and I chatted a little with them and Mick asked who would be going first.  I said I would, looking all-full of myself.  I had been working the HIT trail for a while now but on a split routine.  I figured how hard could this be?  I had not directly said this to Mick but on the phone expressed that I trained HARD and had done some shows!!  Yada yada yada.  So in his mind, he was out for blood, as he knew I did not ‘TRAIN HARD’.  He said, “Just do as you are told – exactly as I tell you”.  “Yes sir” I said, by now my heart had sunk into my ass.

From the pages of my Journal

Not that I need reminding that much – god the workout is seared into my soul.  It goes down as one of my all-time hardest workouts.  Why?  Well for one it was a hell of a shock; I had never trained that hard before.  It took all I had to keep going – pride, balls, stubbornness.  Whatever it was – I had to find it.

From that day on I had a high water mark to reach for.  Here is the workout.

Squat – 30kg a side, slow and deep descending I would say for I guess 5 to 7 seconds negative (lowering), then a pause at the bottom for a second, then up.  This was for 20 reps. Frigging hell I thought after these what the hell have I let myself in for?  No rest.

Leg Extension – full range of movement, pause at the top, weights lightly clicked behind.  I found myself feeling for the click, it seemed a world away – CLICK – and up, no kick, squeeze at the top.  They were both in each ear – 20 reps, get 20 reps!  I was in a world of pain.  Every time I failed they dropped the weight “keep going – you’re not done 20 reps”.  How the hell I got them I do not know, I was out of it.  Here’s the point I let out a “what the f” as I got off the Leg Extension and they put me – ‘put me’ under the Squat.

Squat – yes I kid you not, same weight same style – forced reps the works till 20, this was torture I thought I going to fall flat out.  I don’t know how but I did them, it seemed endless.  The bastards.  No rest at all, I was pushed over to a dip and chin homemade box steel unit in the corner.

Chins – at last something I can do well I thought.  Nope – not happening, again not the way I had done them.  They had me take an underhand grip – pause at the stretch and pause at the top – the very top.  This was for 12 reps, arms and back screaming, made me forget my legs for a spell.  Till I stepped off the frame and nearly fell in the hole.  Again they moved me with no rest on to a Decline Bench.  As they then lifted the bar off the Squat stands and passed it too me, 30kg a side.

Decline Press – for chest, they had me push down towards my groin and squeeze my chest hard, forced reps to 12.

Oh my god what the hell is this I thought, my whole body is shot to bits!  I rolled (fell) off the bench and as instructed sat on the floor and was handed a small bar on a Low Pulley Row.

Low Pulley Row – it was heavy “come on strong little man” Mick said as after 6 or so reps he was giving me forced reps to reach 12.  Each rep the stretch was held and at the contraction.  Sue kept you in the right alignment and was just pure frigging evil – hold – hold – hold – chest up squeeze.  I wanted to punch them both but I could not have fought my way out of a paper bag at this point, instead I just screamed and got my 12.

They then made me sit straddled across the Decline Bench and handed me the bar for a Behind Neck Press.

Behind Neck Press – no idea what was on the bar, I could not see or even think at this point.  Every rep was like a max rep, held in the bottom and top, stretch and squeeze.  Bloody agony!  I was shaking so much everything on me was switching off, I got 12 with I think some help, or lots of it.

The bar was whipped off me and then again pushed into the corner, I felt like I was going to explode I was in so much pain and so pumped.

Dips – on the frame, “deep – deep – stretch – hold – then tense at the top”, bellowed at each side of me.  I got 12; they would not let me get off till I did.  These were done in a Rest Pause Style.

I stepped off the frame “nearly there” said Mick as he handed me the bar again.

Curls – I could hardly hold the bar, my arms felt like sponge, it was the hardest set of curls ever, then or since – 12.  That frigging 12 again.

Again I was pushed over to the Low Pulley area that also was a Pushdown with a rope.  These did not register at all, 12 with most of them being forced reps.

Dips.  I kid you not, I almost cried here.  I did 3 reps; I could not for my life do another rep.  Mick made me do 9 negatives – stepped up and lowered myself to the bottom, slow.  I was screaming like a pig.  Done!  Said Mick, I dropped to the floor like a stone.  The cold mucky cold concrete floor felt like the best thing in the world, I wanted it to soak me up I was in so much pain – everywhere; my whole body was in shock.  I moaned like a baby and looked over at the lads, their faces froze in horror.  I felt the wave build – I am going to be sick!  I scrambled outside, stumbled on a patch of grass outside, fell on my knees and let it rip.  It was like a possession of sorts – projectile was not the word.  I thought it would never stop, when it did I rolled on the back street between the garages and soaked up as much cold concrete floor as I could.

I lay there for a long time, enough for me to smile as Chris made his way to the sick patch of grass.  I smiled at him and gave him the thumbs up.  Not long after Rob joined in the laying down in the street party, it took us a while to get up and head home.  When we had overcome the shock we chatted about what had just happened.

I voiced that I thought we trained hard and clearly we did not.  All of us vowed to train hard as possible and make some gains.

The Gain

For the next twelve weeks I trained harder than I had done up to that point in any of my training life.  My weight was 157 or so and I was fair lean at the start of the HIT program we set upon.  In 12 weeks I gained like never before topping at 172 and only a slight difference in in leanness.  At 5.3 I looked like a box and was strong as a bull.

Here is the base program:

  • Squats
  • Leg Extensions
  • Chins
  • Decline Press
  • Deadlift
  • Shoulder Press
  • Curls Thick Bar
  • Rope Pushdown
  • Dips
  • Calf Raise

One set each to fail, aiming for 12 reps.

When I got 12 the weight went up.  Simple, just killed it every time.

Why did I stop?  After more than two years of training the HIT way I was getting to the point of being scared to train.  Yes you read that right – scared.  The workouts were that brutal I was hating my training.  The gains had been awesome but the romance had faded, so I used other forms of working out and although productive, nothing was or ever has been as productive as the HIT program.  Why HIT now?  Well as the years have gone on, I have trained hard – not balls to the wall – but hard.  I can tolerate it now, training very hard is a learned skill and I have had a lot of years of practice of touching the edge.  In order to make gains there has to be a trigger, and intensity is the best way to trigger growth.  I wanted and needed to make some gains so I developed my own THREE version of HIT.  Based on my many years of research and working out, how I can kill it and recover at the age and advanced stage I am in my training life.  I think I have an awesome program that has had me gaining very well.

A little discussion here on training hard as many out there will not get this concept.  Yes there are gyms full of guys who never seem to do a great deal other than mess about with their phone between sets.  Well unless you are from Mars you must understand that many – many – of these kids are not let’s say, unassisted.

The normal guys, with normal hormones and recovery need to work with Mother Nature not against her.  To grow, and for body composition to alter for the better, more muscle less fat – there HAS TO BE a stimulus, a trigger.

This has to come in the form of a bloody hard workout.  If you do what your body is capable of you will not change.  Read that again – you will not change.  Now the laws of nature state that if you train hard you cannot train long.  You cannot sprint a mile, so the harder you push the workout, the less you can tolerate in volume.  Simply put here, if you want to grow and be more muscular and leaner – kick the crap out of yourself on a few hard basic exercises, get out of the gym, eat good food and wait till you feel recovered.  Then kick the crap out of yourself again.  Honest to god it boils down to something as simple as this.


I hope you enjoyed that section –It made my adrenalin kick in reading it I can tell ya.

Again its another form of training –if all you get from this is the next time you go in the gym you kick ass and work harder, my job is done.

Be Old But Strong of Mind and Body.


3 replies
  1. RUSS
    RUSS says:

    I’ve been following your website for years now, including making a purchase of all yours books.

    This article is always a great read. As is stands to this day, I am currently 2 weeks in to the above routine [slight variation with a couple of added movements] I must comment that the gain have been the best I have made. Recovery can be a little difficult at times and I definitely look forward to the 2 day break at the end of the week! High rep squats really seem to be the key for me and leg growth.

    Fantastic information as usual, Ian.

    Take care.

  2. Ian Duckett
    Ian Duckett says:

    Hey Russ -hope your well -we will return to HIT before the years out -I find doing short stints of it really boosts my growth x
    At 51 soon I’m real happy with my size and strength –and leanness gains x Good to here your doing well –as always thank you for your kind words mate x Ian

  3. Russ
    Russ says:

    Thanks for the reply, Ian. I understand how busy you are, so I appreciate you taking the time out to come back to me.

    At 51 [soon] you are in fantastic condition. I’m 27 and look nowhere near as good as you do! I can only hope the next 20+ years treat me as well as they have you.

    HIT is something I have dabbled with in the past but for some unknown reason moved away from. I’m now making that commitment to sticking to it and running it properly for a period of weeks followed by a growth week. I have a feeling I will need it haha.

    Just a quick one, I am fairly familiar with most of your articles and blog posts but are there any you can throw my direction regarding recovery? HIT, by nature, is intense and the recovery is fairly hard. Anything I can do to keep energy up would be fantastic.

    Many thanks again,


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