A friend of mine put on almost 14 pounds of muscle last fall, in only 12 weeks.
He only weighed around 160 pounds when he started, so this was a pretty astounding transformation.
I'm going to tell you exactly how he did this in just a minute, but first I want to tell you a little more about his story.
Bear with me for a minute, because I'm sure you'll find it very interesting
He lives in my neighborhood, so I used to see him all the time heading to work on his 10 speed bicycle.
It's roughly 12 miles each way, so he was biking 24 miles round trip, 5 days a week.
He also used to jog around the neighborhood on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in the evenings.
On Saturday morning, he'd play doubles tennis with a few other guys at some courts about a mile from our neighborhood.
For a little extra exercise he'd usually jog to the courts, then jog back home after the match was over.
In other words, he was a classic low intensity, high volume, aerobic exerciser.
When I drove past his garage, I'd occasionally see him with
weights in his hands, but they were always the little rubber 5 pounders
women use in aerobics classes for "strength training".
I make it a point to never push my beliefs on anyone, so I'd never had the, "you're exercising all wrong", talk with him.
That is, until we were both at the community pool on a particularly hot October day last year.
He looked over at me and said, you're really tan, and shifted his leg near mine as a comparison.
The contrast was striking!
His legs were thin, weak looking, and extremely low in muscle definition, while my calf alone was probably wider than the circumference of his entire neck.
He noticed the difference, said I was lucky, then mumbled something about genetics.
Next came a tangent, where he talked about the hours and hours he spent exercising ...and no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't seem to overcome that 98 pound weakling look.
Since he was the one who opened the door, I went ahead and walked right in.
I explained to him that muscle is accumulated through intensity, not duration...
That 3 minutes with a 100 lb barbell would do him more good than a month with his 5 pound rubber weights.
I also explained that the long, slow cycling sessions, and the endless, repetitious jogging, were doing him more harm than good.
Since the proof was sitting there right before his eyes, he was ready to listen.
We trained together a few times, then I cut him loose with the following advice.
Keep your Routines Short, and Highly Intense!
Now, instead of biking 120 miles to and from work every week, he does interval training on his cycle, once every 7 days.
This equates to 6 all out sprints up a 30% incline hill near his house, followed up by a slow, cool down ride back home.
Running now comes in the form of six to eight 100 yard sprints, completed in about 15 minutes at the local park.
And he now has a real set of heavy dumbbells in his garage, and he uses them regularly.
My next piece of advice was...
Add Muscle Confusion Into Your Routines!
Most exercise gurus will tell you to change your routines every 6 weeks or so.
As I explained to him, I prefer to change mine up every week.
Here's what a typical 3 week period might look for me.
Run 8 all out Wind Sprints.
15 seconds each, 90 second recovery, total workout time around 15 minutes.
Full Body Workout, Heavy Weights, 5 Reps Max Per Exercise.
10 Minutes of Speed Work on the Jump Rope.
8 Full Speed Sprints at the local Pool.
I swim butterfly, which is very taxing and intense.
If you don't have that stroke down, freestyle will do you just fine.
Heavy Squat Routine, 10 Minutes Max.
I like to chug 1/2 gallon of raw milk following this routine for the anabolic spike delivered by the whey protein in the milk.
A shirtless look in the mirror the following morning always proves to me that this combination delivers the goods in spades.
8 Ballistic Sets of Pull Ups-Chin Ups, alternating between a reverse and forward facing grip.
FYI, this is an absolutely killer upper body workout, that will give your torso that V shape faster than any other exercise out there.
I can complete this routine in less than 10 minutes.
Full Body Workout, Medium Heavy Weight, 10 Reps Per Exercise.
Notice that I've dropped the weight down from week one, and doubled up on the reps from 5 to 10.
To keep the intensity up, I increase the pace, and shorten the rest period between sets.
Run Stairs at the Local High School Stadium.
Climb stairs at top speed, walk down slowly to recover, then repeat for a total of 8 reps.
If you're new to HIT, go easy on this one, otherwise you may wind up losing your lunch.
3 Sets of Jump Squats.
If you're unfamiliar with jump squats, simply warm up, then jump as high as you can, as fast as you can, all out for 30 seconds.
Then rest for 60 to 90 seconds, rinse and repeat for a total of 3 sets.
This is a great exercise to do while traveling, or when short on time, as they're quick, and can be done almost anywhere.
These are just a few examples...
High intensity workouts can also be done on treadmills, elliptical trainers, rowing machines, stationary bikes, and other exercise equipment.
Use your imagination!
Mix and match routines, change up frequency, duration, speed, and other variables, and your options are almost endless.
Become fanatical about muscle confusion, and you'll achieve extremely high levels of fitness, so fast it will astound you.
Especially, if you ensure that all your routines are brief, random, and highly intense.
But, I must warn you...
If you're new to HIT, make sure you ease into it very slowly, otherwise you run the risk of injury.
I recommend starting out in the pool or on a cycle in the beginning stages, to minimize the risk.
Check in with your doctor before beginning any new exercise routine, just to play it safe.