Hillfit 2.0: A Zero Budget Approach to High Intensity Training

In early 2011, I became a convert to High Intensity Training. Unlike traditional strength-building protocols, HIT focuses on using slow controlled movements, less volume, and higher intensity. Safety is a priority. Movements have a low-skill component, so they are ideal for lifters at all stages of their fitness journey.

My introduction to HIT came from the book Body By Science and two workouts from legendary trainer Greg Anderson (RIP). As amazing as these resources were for me, they aren’t going to be ideal for everyone. HIT gyms and HIT trainers are rare to find and can be costly. Even regular gyms can be expensive and inconvenient. And the book Body By Science is still geared at someone with access to good equipment at a gym.

What High Intensity Training needed was a cost-effective way to get people to benefit immediately with minimal expense. Enter Hillfit. In January 2012, I reviewed the first version of the 52-page e-book in the post Hillfit: Strength is Not just For Hikers. This book made the case that the best equipment you can bring to your sport, be it hiking or whatever, is stronger muscles. And using the principles of High Intensity Training, author Chris Highcock has developed a way to build strength at home safely – no gym required.

Wall Sit

One of the exercises highlighted in Hillfit is the Wall Sit. (photo from Wikipedia)

This year Hillfit was completely rewritten as Hillfit 2.0. The new e-book is now 121 pages and includes guest essays by several top fitness professionals including Bill DeSimone, Skyler Tanner, and James Steele II. Some of the highlights in this version that I liked include:

  • A discussion on who the target audience is for the book. It is not for the elite audience but for the majority of us “who inhabit the middle of the bell curve, not the far edge!” This is important. Too many elite fitness bloggers take the approach that if they can do it, so can others, and they proceed to advise clients an excessive volume of exercise, which is often not sustainable or even safe
  • “train as much as necessary, not as much as possible” – Perhaps the best quote was ever written on fitness.
  • I liked Tim Anderson’s essay on crawling and how adults can benefit from getting on the floor and engaging in movement patterns we stop doing as infants.
  • A list of the many reasons one should desire strength, including protection from injury.
  • Exercise defined. Most people confuse recreation with exercise. Hillfit clears up the differences.
  • Bill DeSimone’s rules for joint-friendly training.
  • Why you want to choose low-skill exercises for developing strength.
  • The case for slowing down the movement.
  • The importance of effort over weight.
  • There are also well-written sections on walking, balance, and mobility.

I did have one minor issue with the book. I felt James Steele’s case against cardio was too complex to be condensed to a few pages. This was an hour presentation at the 21 Convention. Communicating why the conventional view of cardio is inaccurate is an important topic when discussing High Intensity Training. It is also a challenge. The best essay I’ve seen on the topic is Why-NOT-Aerobics by Greg Anderson.


If you are looking for a way to get strong at home with zero expense that is safe and effective, consider checking out Hillfit 2.0.

Hill Fit

Disclosure: I received a copy of Hillfit in exchange for feedback on a draft version.

UPDATE 2024: Hillfit is now back online and available for free download on GitHub.


Add yours

  1. James Steele II

    Jul 8, 2013 — 1:33 pm

    Hey MAS,

    Great review! I really enjoyed Chris updated version and it has actually sparked some more research ideas off in my head.

    I personally agree with your comments regrading my section. Considering the length of the original paper in addition to the presentation (I was impressed I condensed it into an hour presentation as that could have very easily been much longer) it was a real challenge to translate it into something a bit more succinct.

  2. Michael,

    I find your (and Doug McGuff’s, and Greg Anderson’s) comments about the danger of aerobics quite compelling — it makes sense that it would be hard on the joints, and I feel the impact myself. My problem is that as someone with moderate chronic anxiety, I find 15 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobics every morning (dancing intensely to high-energy music) has a significant impact on my anxiety and overall feeling of wellbeing. Do you know any safer substitutes I could use on a daily basis to achieve this effect?


  3. @S – If you can do dance and feel good, then keep doing it. It is your recreation. Some people never have issues with joint pain. How much you weigh, how tall you are, how much volume you do, how much you rest, and probably 20 other factors will factor into your risk for injury.

    15 minutes of dancing sounds reasonable. Almost like a interval workout. Unless you are already in pain, I don’t see a reason to stop.

  4. “train as much as necessary, not as much as possible” – Perhaps the best quote ever written on fitness.

    Excellent, indeed.

  5. Thanks. Unfortunately, I am feeling impact from this — my shoulders hurt, and I think it has some impact on my knees as well (I have some mild knee issues from doing high impact competitive dance in college 4 years ago). For now I’m just trying to notice how various movements make me feel, and avoid those that cause soreness. But looking for an alternative…. maybe I should explore swimming!


  6. @S – Swimming sounds great if you can get access to a pool.

    I posted this yesterday on Facebook:

    Back in 1992, one of the qualifiers for the USA Olympic team for the marathon couldn’t train for the race due to injuries. His coach had him run in the pool so he could keep his strength. Not sure how he did, but I think there is merit to training in water, especially for rehab.

  7. S……have you just thought about something MAS does himself?….Just opening your front door and going for a walk? I used to run competitively….thought I enjoyed it, but it was really a compulsion…I did it because I thought I HAD to ( blame the conventional wisdom of the time. I now realise I didn’t enjoy it. I love to walk, it relaxes me. IF I do feel energetic I might start walking and then break out into a jog for 15 to 30 minutes (but I never go fast or push it)….but I only do it if I want to, not because I feel I need to. I still do sprints or short fast intervals on the track, but it’s brief in nature and running fast makes me feel like I did when I was a kid again, So I enjoy that too. But anyway S…if a pool is not available, walking is a great start…..

  8. I know that you are not a PubMed warrior but I think you might enjoy this literature review of strength and hypertrophy research. You may have already reviewed it but I can’t find it on your site.


    It is in line with many of the recommendations in HillFit.

  9. @Russ – I haven’t seen it. If I get around to reading it, I will, but I’ve got a lot more to read first. So many things to read. I’m way behind.

  10. The argument against running ignores a crucial fact – running well requires skill. If you run well, impact forces are lower, ramp more slowly, and are better distributed. If you enjoy running, as I do, take the time to learn to do it well and then stop worrying about hurting yourself. That said, I think it’s better to not run at all than to run badly …

  11. This book sounds excellent, but it seems to have dropped off the Internet. Do you happen to know where I can find a copy? Or have you perhaps discovered a better resource for equipment-free HIT exercises in the decade since you wrote this post? I just discovered your blog after stumbling across your critique of The Naked Warrior and it seems like you have a knack for picking out the good stuff from the sea of conflicting fitness recommendations.

  12. @Fermion – I would love to get the book back online. I’ll see what I can do to make that happen.

  13. @All – HillFit is back online!

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