10 High Intensity Training Tricks to Build Bigger Muscles

10 High Intensity Training Tricks to Build Bigger Muscles

High intensity training has a reputation for being cut-and-dried, with little room for variation. With some imagination, though, you can spice up HIT and boost muscle growth in the process.

Here are 10 high intensity training tricks to build bigger muscles and get your mind thinking about other innovations.

Maintain Order

For the most part, you should train your body parts from largest to smallest when using HIT. This allows you to devote the most energy upfront to those muscles with the best growth potential. If you’re training your whole body at each workout, a good bodypart order is quads, hamstrings, calves, back, chest, shoulders, triceps, biceps, forearms, and abs.

Hurry Up

Some advocates insist that HIT can replace cardio training if you reduce your between-set rest to a minimum and keep your heart rate elevated throughout. There is plenty of debate around that idea, but the so-called “rush factor” can, indeed, be a good intensity uptick and help you pack in a lot of work in a short amount of time.

Try Pre-Exhaustion

Some people have trouble feeling and isolating big muscle groups like chest, as their arms and shoulders take over. One way to work around this is to train your chest with an isolation movement, like dumbbell flyes, first and then move on to big exercises like the bench press or dips. You will have to reduce your poundages, but you should get a nice direct hit for that major muscle group.

Time Your Sets

Most lifters aim for a certain number of reps in all of their sets, but the amount of time your muscles spend actually working is an important consideration when it comes to stimulating muscle growth. Your time-under-tension should fall between 30 and 90 seconds for most of your sets if hypertrophy is your main goal.

Try SuperSlow

If you want to try something novel to give your muscles a jolt, then SuperSlow may be just the ticket. With SuperSlow, you reduce your normal 10-rep poundage by 30-50% and then perform a set to failure, taking 10 seconds to lift the weight and 10 to lower it on EACH rep. This technique is a major burner and will leave you quivering.

Try Super Duper Slow!

If SuperSlow doesn’t torch your muscles enough, you can take it one step further and try for one long rep of 30 seconds up and 30 seconds down. If you think it sounds easy, go ahead and attempt a super duper slow chin-up and  you might have a different take on this method.


If you’ve hit the wall or just gone stale training your whole body each workout and in the same order all the time, then it might be time to specialize. Pick one bodypart and give it a couple more sets while slightly reducing the volume of the rest of your workout. After a week or two of intense focus on one muscle group, you can move on to another or return to a more comprehensive routine.

Train Your Arms First

An add-on to the idea of specialization is to move your target bodypart to the FIRST slot in your workout. Arms generally fall near the end of an HIT routine, but giving them top billing on occasion can result in better pumps and more mass.

Try Rest-Pause

Rest-pause is a very specific technique that focuses on lifting HEAVY weights for a decent number of reps. There are several ways to go about rest-pause, but one good method is as follows:

  • Pick a weight that will allow you to get 8-10 reps and do a set to failure.
  • Set the weight down and take in 10-15 deep breaths.
  • Pick up the weight and rep out to failure again — probably 3-4 reps this time.
  • Set the weight down and take in 10-15 deep breaths.
  • Do one last set to failure, targeting 2-3 reps.

This is brutal and can be dangerous, so make sure you’re warmed up and maintain good form.

Be Negative

The negative, or eccentric, part of each movement is responsible for most muscle soreness and much of the growth stimulation of an exercise. One way to take advantage of this is to perform a negative-only set. Here is how you would to an NO dip:

  • Put a chair or block between the dipping bars and step up so that you can grab the handles with your arms fully extended.
  • Lift your feet and lower your body slowly to the bottom position — take about 10 seconds.
  • Climb up again and do another rep.
  • Continue until you can no longer keep your descent slow and controlled.

Be Creative!

As these tips indicate, HIT does NOT need to be boring if you’re willing to invest a little thought and creativity into your training program. As always, check with your doctor before embarking on a demanding training program, but then don’t be afraid to have a little fun with your routine.

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