I’m Done Talking About High Intensity Training

Last night I made a decision that I would never talk about High Intensity Training unless someone solicits my opinion on the topic. I’ll still blog about it here, but I’m done discussing it in conversations. People don’t get it.

I used to think it was a failure on my part to articulate the principles of HIT, but now I believe most people have such deep ingrained beliefs about fitness that they just can’t comprehend what I am saying. There are so many layers of false information buried in the heads of people that it is futile to even waste any time discussing my viewpoint.

So the next time I hear someone say they need to “get back in shape”, but they are busy, I won’t take the bait and plug static holds. I’ll assume they were once in shape and that no matter what I say, they will return to the protocol that worked for them before or more likely they will stay out of shape.

They will confuse building strength with recreation. Almost all will believe that more exercise equals more intensity which equals more results. They won’t consider safety or think about recovery. They will continue to have unrealistic role models. They will equate speed with strength. They will believe that the more difficult an exercise is the more strength it develops.

And most will fail.

And I won’t say anything.

High Intensity Training is something you need to do to understand. Language fails. It especially fails when we have so much incorrect information in our head clouding our judgment.

drops mic

Photo by Robert Bejil

UPDATE (July 14, 2014): This morning I woke up with the feeling that I had already written this same post once before. I did some digging and found Preaching Paleo, which is the nutrition side to this same topic. My definition of Paleo was and still is more along the lines of “avoid processed foods”, get good sleep and stay safe and not the low-carb CrossFit nonsense that is pervasive today.

UPDATE (July 27, 2014): I wrote a Part 2 for this post.


Add yours

  1. So what was the last straw?….something must have set you off…

  2. The older I get, the more I am getting into what I call Mini-HIT’s…short upper body or lower body workouts, at random times during the day but not everyday….
    I have 3 dumbbells (25,40 and 55) and a pullup bar. Plus I have a 1 speed bicycle
    to do a short 1.5 mile run around the neighborhood on.
    There is almost always time to do a Mini-HIT….

  3. Okay, frankly I’m pretty tired of hearing about it.

  4. @Big Tex – It wasn’t one thing. I just decided to throw in the towel on trying to help others with what has helped me. My best of intentions aren’t enough and I’m now OK with that.

  5. Welp. That is a shame.

    Imagine if the people who introduced you to HIT decided to stop sharing before you met them.

    The MAS of a few years ago would likely be as resistant to HIT as some of the folks you talk to today. But is really HIT or the challenging of their beliefs that is the hurdle?

    If your dialog goes “I am out of shape” and then “Let me tell you about the superiority of HIT” I can see a lot of resistance in that conversation.

    If the dialog went “I am out shape” and then “I get that. Would you be interested to hear what’s worked the best for me after 20 years of meticulous record keeping?” I imagine that opening more doors as a relatable conversation. After all, who would say no to that?!

    You are under no obligation to save the world with HIT. =) However, you are passionate about it and that won’t go away. Maybe take on trying a few different ways of communicating via relatable stories and see if the audience reaction changes.

  6. @Stuart – Just to be clear, it is they who are saying they are out of shape. Not me.

    I’ll still post about here, where I do believe it is making an impact. And if someone really is interested in what I do, I will always be more than happy to discuss it. But beyond that it has been proven time and time again to be a futile discussion.

    It really comes down to the fact that many people already are set in their fitness beliefs. Like religion and politics. I did reach out to a nephew recently with HIT info, but only after he inquired about fitness.

  7. MAS,
    I think you just have to wait a few years for the mainstream wisdom to catch up. There is a several-year lag between what is discussed on your site and other fitness sites, and the understanding of the general population. For example, my mother informed me last week that “focusing on eating low-fat snacks may not contribute to health, and that some fats may be actually be good.” This was a new revelation for her in 2014. In a few years, she’ll be ready to hear about HIT. 🙂

  8. @Jim – We are starting to see those articles pop up, so maybe there is hope. It isn’t an easy narrative for many to accept, especially when they’ve invested so much time in doing it the other way. The HIT story is probably best suited for blogs, articles, lectures, and books.

  9. So many people are only willing to hear what the “authorities” tell them. My mom recently informed me that she and my dad are eating real butter now that they heard on the news that it wasn’t bad for you. It would drive me crazy that they would eat margarine, but they would never have allowed me to convince them. I would imagine HIT suffers the same fate with a lot of people.

  10. HITT is like at least 40 years old…Arthur Jones was preaching it in the mid
    ’70’s…and made millions off his Nautilus machines and training methods…

  11. @All – I added a new paragraph to the post with a link to Preaching Paleo (Jan 2011).
    In that entry, I discussed how Diet can be our identity. Fitness methodology too.

  12. I saw Robb Wolf RT something recently … it was along the lines of

    “It takes exponentially more effort to refute bullshit than it does to create it.”


    I think your approach is sound MAS. The blog has a real, lasting, intellectual effect. Casual conversation about deeply ingrained beliefs usually doesn’t amount to much without dropping truth bombs that visibly piss people off.

    On a good day it can be used to raise lingering questions though. Such as,

    “I agree, we need a government. I think it should be funded 100% peacefully. If you disagree I’d like to know why.”

  13. Well, for what it’s worth, your writing on HIT has helped me tremendously. I understand not wanting to help people who don’t want to be helped, but please keep writing about it for your very grateful blog audience!

  14. @Anthony – Thanks. Interestingly I am more convincing on conversations regarding economics than HIT. 🙂

    @Rita – I will keeping posting on HIT. When I return from my blogging break I plan to do a post on an idea I have to improve/extend Hillfit.

  15. I hear you. So often I end up in conversation with people who want to know about which ever protocol I’m following with regard to exercise, nutrition or their relationships. I used to get excited about the potential for liberating someone but I’ve come to realise it’s just grounds for friction. An example being the next time I sit down with them they’re drinking a Coke. It’s got to the point where if people ask I’m tempted to say ‘that conversation is going to cost you $50, if in two weeks time you’ve taken my ideas on board you can have your money back.’ Maybe from their side it’s just idle conversation but I don’t do idle so well. Maybe I’m a little different, I get paid to coach people who want to listen so have less and less patience. I think your blog serves the same purpose, just email them a link.

  16. Hi MAS,

    I understand where you are coming from. I can relate as in my personal life I often select whether I want/have the energy in the moment to discuss exercise with an individual. I may throw out a few feelers and see what direction the individual is looking to take the conversation in (i.e. do they just want to moan), if I’m not interested in where they want to take the conversation, I’ll drop what Anthony calls a “truth bomb” and move the conversation on to something else (or just move on!).

    Recently wrote a post that details one way in which you can positively frame HIT for others and arouse their curiosity and engage their intelligence http://www.hituni.com/?p=6856

    Glad to hear you will still be writing about HIT here.

  17. I hope you mean that you are doing talking about it face to face.

    Exploring correctly assisted (nutrition + rest) progressive overload and its role as a trigger of further adaptations remains important, not only for physical development, but also for emotional and intellectual development. And blogging about these explorations is what makes this site interesting.

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