Nautilus was design for everyone, but was High Intensity Training theory for everyone?

I have recently written an article to present Arthur Jones’s High Intensity Training theory (click here to read the article). While there is absolutely no doubt that it can be helpful to Fitness beginners and can bring some interesting pieces to any workout, this theory is far from perfect and comprises some flaws that I intend to discuss here by introducing my own vision and opinion on this workout theory.

Endurance and heart health, the missing point of the H.I.T.

Mike Mentzer, a famous HIT advocate died from heart complications

In over 20 years of practice, I have come across many High Intensity Training (H.I.T.) practitioners and convinced advocates. However, almost all of them had one thing in common (beside taking steroids), they all lacked breathing capacity and stamina. It was very sad to see them out of breath after climbing just a few stairs. Unfortunately, this is quite a logical consequence of this workout structure. Arthur Jones was focused on selling Nautilus machines but had no cardio machines. Therefore, his theory almost did not include cardio exercises or stamina consideration.

Furthermore, the fact that the theory is focused on providing the most intense effort in a very short time period provides athletes with body adaptations tailored to face this stress. The cardiovascular system, by adapting to this training technique, loses a lot of endurance capacity.

The theory totally neglects the fact that all muscles are powered by blood (and carried nutrients) pumped by the heart. So a weak heart (worsened by overdeveloped muscles) will not be able to provide enough blood flow in muscles during a prolonged effort. Neither will it be able to provide repairing nutrients efficiently to the muscles during the natural anabolic phase (the phase where the muscle repairs and rebuilds itself). The quality of sleep also tends to deteriorate and the resting phase that allows the overcompensation is then not as effective as it should theoretically be.

When do you do your cardio?

Whether you are a regular folk, a professional athlete or a bodybuilder, you will need to maintain or improve your heart condition at one point or another. How cardio is supposed to fit inside Jones’s H.I.T. theory?

“What if you do your cardio in the morning and do your H.I.T. workout in the evening (or vice versa)? Does it respect the founding principles of H.I.T. of not overtraining. Is it overtraining?”

If you do it at the end of your workout, scientific research has clearly shown that there is nothing worse than impairing muscle growth. If you do it at the beginning of your workout, you risk not having the same energy and intensity in your workout, while the theory obliges you to put everything you have into a single series of exercises per muscle. You will then have to put some of your energy into your cardio.

What if you do your cardio in the morning and do your H.I.T. workout in the evening (or vice versa)? Does it respect the founding principles of H.I.T. of not overtraining. Is it overtraining?

What about if you do a little running during the day, is it bad for your leg workout? Are you overtraining your calves and quads?

To my point of view, H.I.T theory is full of flaws inherent to the workout structure itself that have not been addressed by its founder.

How can you get ripped with this workout theory?

Clearly, doing only one single series of exercises per muscle does not give you the opportunity to get lean or ripped through physical activity. Therefore, you need to base everything on your nutrition and make sure that you eat only what you strictly need during the day. Otherwise, you will not be able to be leaner.

This requires absolute precision in your calorie intake during the day, and, given your reduced physical activity, you will have almost no margin for error. Needless to say, this degree of precision is almost impossible to maintain over a few weeks, let alone over a few months.

H.I.T advocates, were they really steroid free?

Is this 4 weeks result really steroid free?

The two most famous H.I.T. advocates were Mike Mentzer (together with his brother Ray Mentzer) and Dorian Yates. Both of them admitted to their steroid use. In all likelihood, we cannot seriously state that their results are achievable by a fully natural athlete.

Furthermore, Arthur Jones worked closely with Casey Viator and Boyer Coe to promote his machines and his theory. He advertised heavily on the muscle gains they acquired thanks to his method and machines. According to the 1973 Colorado Experiment led by Arthur Jones, Casey Viator (1970 Mister America and professional bodybuilder) gained 63 pounds (28 kg) of muscle in 28 days. Is it really credible to state that these results were achieved without any use of steroids? Was it just Casey Viator regaining ‘pre-existing’ muscles?

Is CrossFit a true counterexample of H.I.T.?

Modern crossfitters clearly gain muscles with H.I.T. opposite training principles

The other day, I was watching a documentary on CrossFit athletes that presented their workout regimen and it was impressive. They sometimes workout two or three times per day for at least 1 hour (or even 2 hours) each time. They spend their time jumping from one exercise to another (with more than questionable executions) with little to no rest.

Instead of doing an exercise in isolation per muscle for a very short duration, they spend hours doing and redoing weightlifting exercises. This goes against two principles of H.I.T., namely short duration and working in isolation.
However, we can’t say that professional CrossFiters do not gain muscles or fail to maintain it.

Was H.I.T. just a marketing invention to help sell more Nautilus machines?

Was Arthur Jones just a Marketing genius?

Arthur Jones published his Bulletins in 1970 to present his H.I.T. approach to the world. He conducted his Colorado experiment in 1973 only on 2 subjects (Casey Viator and… himself). Concomitantly, he launched and started selling his Nautilus machines. There is no doubt that his machines were a true revolution in the Fitness world and still have an impact today. However, this is not the subject. The subject is to question the validity of the H.I.T. and there is clearly a lack of scientific evidence for its effectiveness compared to other workout methods.

Therefore, you can legitimately ask ourselves if this theory was not just a sort of marketing trick destined to support the sales of his innovative Fitness equipement and sell more of it.

My personal experience with H.I.T.

When I discovered the H.I.T., I was very interested and wanted to test it on myself. The steroid free approach, the promise of muscle gains coupled with a true innovative approach seduced me right away. Consequently, I trained according to these principles for months while I was very young. But, objectively, I had little extra gain compared to what I acquired through regular workouts. A little disappointed by the results, I switched my workouts to the more ‘traditional’ ones. As all natural practitioners, I had many stagnation phases, after which I switched again to H.I.T. And this went on and on for years. I experimented with a lot of different types of workouts in my over 20 years of Fitness practice. My personal conclusion, is that I did not see any particular muscle gains from High Intensity Training, but each time I trained according to this approach, my stamina and heart condition clearly deteriorated.

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