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Origins of HIT and the Supporting Science

HIT, which stands for High Intensity Training, has its modern roots in the work of Arthur Jones whose writings and thoughts on exercise were developed from the 1970’s through till the first decade of the 21st Century.

Arthur Jones with Nautilus

Arthur Jones was the original owner, inventor and designer of Nautilus exercise equipment that revolutionized the fitness industry in the 1970’s and 80’s.  Along with a skill for equipment design, Jones had very specific notions about exercise protocol, and his opinions on exercise were refined through until his death in 2007.  Over his lifetime Jones invested millions of dollars of his own money into independent scientific research, the results of which further informed his opinions on exercise.

Jones’s conclusions about exercise flew in the face of the conventional wisdom of the time.

Conventional wisdom in the exercise world has promoted the use of multiple sets of each exercise performed in a workout, typically falling in the range of 3-5 sets per exercise. Jones emphatically stated that only a single set of each exercise is required to elicit the best results that an exercise can provide.

Rather than the 3-5 times a week training that most experts were recommending, Jones concluded that all the possible benefits of exercise could be accrued by performing 1 or 2 workouts per week.

Those who teach exercise often encourage the trainee move as quickly as possible or explosively during an exercise, claiming that moving fast produces more benefits. Conversely Jones encouraged slow, non-explosive movements, which not only are far safer but also provide the benefits of exercise more efficiently.

Many organizations, writers and trainers in the world of exercise suggest that an individual needs to alter the number of repetitions of an exercise that they perform to accrue differing benefits. For example if a person want to emphasize muscular strength they should focus on low reps 3-5 or if they want to achieve muscular endurance they should perform a higher number of reps such as 15-20.

Jones debunked this notion suggesting that a person’s muscular strength and muscular endurance are both equally optimized by performing a moderate number of well-controlled repetitions (within the region of 8-12 reps).

The points about exercise Jones made, that we have discussed here have all been shown to be accurate by more recent scientific research, a fantastic overview of which is presented in “Strength Training Methods and the Work of Arthur Jones” by Dave Smith and Stewart Bruce-Low in the Journal of Exercise Physiology Online and is available to read online for free.

Jones had many other insights and opinions on exercise that have been shown to be correct as the science has slowly caught up with the insights of a man writing ahead of his time, which are covered in the HITuni courses.


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