HITuni recently released a new course featuring Jay Vincent. We also had the opportunity to sit down with him and get to know the man and his training perspectives.
Jay’s Introduction to Resistance Training
Jay first got in to strength training whilst playing football, initially his gym workouts were somewhat hap-hazard and he followed no specific ethos or approach to training. He simply enjoyed working out and his body seemed to respond well to it. Even when his football days came to an end, the gym bug stuck, and he found it easy to continue the habit of training.
On multiple occasions people close to Jay had begun to comment that he looked like he was developing the body of a fitness model. Inspired, Jay approached Silver Model Management, an agency based in New York City. The agency liked Jay but had a proviso before they would take him on: he had to build more muscle mass to be considered for work. This was the point that Jay started to delve into exercise information, research and literature to figure out how to going about building the required extra muscle, as he determined to break into that world.
Up until this point Jay had adapted workouts taken from fitness magazines and resources such as bodybuilding.com and had typically followed a traditional 3-way split: back and biceps, chest and triceps and lower body, usually training a total of 6 days a week. Each muscle group would get four exercises, each exercise was performed for around three sets of 8-12 reps. There was no focus on the tempo of the exercises. Jay notes however that he had always trained quite intensely, taking most sets pretty close to failure (as he understood it then)-stopping when the last rep felt significantly challenging- a tip he had picked up from his uncle and one that had always stuck.
CONVERSATION WITH JAY (PART 1)
How HIT made a fitness model
Jay began to dig deeper inspired by the need to gain muscle for his modelling aspirations, he determined to find a way to gain the mass that would get him through the doors and on the agency’s books. The internet became Jay’s research portal and he meandered through its abundant spoils of information, the good and bad, until he stumbled on a video lecture by Doug McGuff MD, co-author of Body by Science. Watching McGuff’s presentation was a lightbulb moment for Jay- “Oh my god, I’ve been doing this all wrong.” The reading and research continued a pace and he consumed and absorbed all he could about high intensity training (HIT).
Jay began to apply what he had picked-up online to his own training, gradually at first. He didn’t jump in with both feet, adapting his typical workouts, shifting them in a more HITish direction. Instead of three sets per exercise, Jay performed two and focused on getting closer to true failure. Two sets ultimately became one as he began to focus on squeezing everything he could out of each rep of that single set. Along with this reduction in volume Jay also started to taper down his workout frequency. This reduction in volume and frequency started to elicit the gains that Jay was looking for: increased muscle mass. Where higher volume, more frequent training had got him a good start, it was HIT that helped him bust through the plateau. Silver ended up taking him on and soon Jay had modelling contracts with companies such as Under Armour and Muscle Tech.
All told, Jay reckons that it took the course of a whole year to taper his training down to what can be considered a classic HIT approach, it took that period for him to see the full extent of the physical results and at the same time to put the “old training mentality” to bed. He says he had no choice in the matter but to pursue the HIT route as by gradually applying the HIT principles and continually listening to and observing his body he was not only responding better to exercise, but he was feeling better physically too.
Figuring out optimal workout frequency and volume
Listening to your own body is one of Jay’s top advice, for himself he began to note that training too frequently would lead to a reduction in his muscle size, to a similar extent as not training frequently enough. There is a sweet spot in there for everyone in terms of workout frequency and as Jay discovered for himself more is not always better. There is such a thing as too little frequency too though and Jay finds pushing workouts beyond a week apart is where things begin to breakdown for him and most of his clients.
Jay now switches between using a simple upper body/ lower body split and full body routines mostly, as he states, to accommodate systemic fatigue and for a little “variety”. He takes two full days off between workouts so if he exercises on a Monday then his next training day will be on a Thursday. Occasionally he will insert an extra recovery day between workouts when he feels the need for it, but more-often-than-not he is ready to go again with the two day rest.
Jay emphasizes when working from a HIT template that trial and error will ultimately reveal your ideal volume and frequency and that this process is not at all complicated- simply note how you feel, observe your energy levels and fatigue, your appearance and strength gains.
CONVERSATION WITH JAY (PART 2)
Selecting the best exercises
In terms of the exercises that make up his and his clients routines, Jay heavily favors basic multi-joint exercises, more often than not performed on machines. In fact, he states that the basic multi-joints alone will give you damn near all you need for optimizing your physique so long as you are training intensely. This is very similar to the perspective that James Fisher and James Steele shared with us, and just like them, Jay will still sprinkle in some sound single-joint exercises for a little variety. What Jay cautions against is the plethora of unnecessary and questionable exercises that are often promoted in magazines, fitness sites and through Instagram channels. Needless to say, Jay is a big fan of Bill DeSimone’s work.
The Magic Recipe Reality
Jay is candid that it is simplicity that has optimized his physique: HIT, balanced nutrition, rest and sleep are the ingredients of the recipe that has bought his ultimate success. Beyond those he states, the only other “magic” ingredient is his genetic predisposition to gain muscle size in response to resistance training.
Of course, doing things Jay’s way will not give you Jay’s physique, but he points out you will optimize your own physique, your own potential and your own fitness. Jay notes that there is a cognitive assumption most people have when they first start lifting weights- that you are going to gain a lot of muscle, he explains that this is not necessarily the case and unfortunately not true for everyone. Today this cognitive assumption has become even more skewed, with social media giving a far greater outlet and reach to those who can gain a lot of muscle, leading to a distorting of the perception the general public often fall foul of: that rare genetics and rare results are more common and attainable than they actually are.
Supplements, he notes, are by and large a waste of money. He has experimented with taking a whole gamut of supplements for months at a time, followed by similar periods taking no supplements at all- the difference he discovered: none. No significant impact on leanness, body composition or strength. He cautions those who may fall into the “magic supplement” trap: the bodies used to sell supplements are built on favorable genes… and sometimes drugs and photoshop too. Your money is better off invested in quality whole foods rather than shiny, alluring bottles filled with powders or pills that promise the world and deliver little but fleeting hope. Or spend that supplement money on a HIT personal trainer or course that will help you get the stimulus side of the equation right.
Jay’s has two well equipped, first rate HIT facilities one in Clifton Park NY and one in Albany NY.
If you are near one of those get training with Jay in-person today.
If you live further afield learn Jay’s approach to applying HIT with his online course.