HST is an interesting training methodology designed purely for building muscle. We all remember the days when we simply did 3 sets of 10 reps for every exercise and we grew...up to a point. But only to a point then we stopped responding to it. We reached a point of stasis or standstill. We weren't able to get any stronger at the same rate we did before so we couldn't lift heavier as frequently. As a result, we weren't getting the progressive overload needed for growth and so we simply stayed where we were. The creator of HST actually came up with a way to overcome the problems caused when we get stuck at a certain weight and stop progressing. This method of training is great for building muscle although it's not the best purely for getting stronger. If pure raw strength is your goal, look at something like 5x5 or check out some of the power-lifting routines. But if your goal is to build muscle, this may well be for you.
There are quite a few ways to overcome this problem and most are pretty effective to a point. From using varied rep ranges, eg 3x4-6 as in max ot or 3x8-10 or 3x10-12... differing ways to get past the sticking point to altering the weights used. An interesting way used by 5x5 trainees is to lift heavier every week until they hit a wall then drop the weight back to where they were lifting about 3 weeks earlier then work back up to...and beyond the sticking point. Each of these are effective.
HST takes both of these approaches in a rather different manner utilizing basic principles of bodybuilding.
- 1- Frequency. Instead of a split where each body part is worked once a week with a full week to recover (which is not really necessary) considering that the body is just that...a body, a complete unit, which seems to respond better when trained as such rather than when trained as a collection of individual parts HST trainees will do full body workouts 3x a week. In HST, workouts are done with one rest day between the three lifting days, then two days rest and start over. By doing this, each body part is trained 3 times a week so gets the frequency needed to stimulate growth.
- Progressive overload. The eight week training cycle is split into four two week mini cycles. During each two week mini cycle, you get six workouts. Each workout is heavier than the one before it.
- Strategic deconditioning. After the eight week training cycle, the trainee takes two weeks off to decondition. This allows the body to respond to the same weights all over again, getting us past this stasis where we are stuck with the same weight and not responding anymore. Since we should be a little stronger than we were during the previous training cycle, we can use 5-10lbs more for each lift than we did before.
Before you start:Since each workout is based on where you are in the program and the program is based on your maximum weight for each lift you will be doing, you need to know your RM for each rep range you will be working in. RM is rep max or the maximum weight you can lift for a given number of reps.
Take a few trips to the gym and test your 15RM, 10RM, and 5RM.
How to set your HST up:You will have 4 specific training blocks consisting of 15's, 10's, 5's, and 2's. (more on the 2's later)
15's. Find your 15 rep max and put that at workout #6, then simply work backwards taking 5-10lbs off of your weight for each workout. For example, if your 15RM with the squat is 200lbs your two weeks of 15's for the squat might be like this.
200, 190, 180, 170, 160, 150 for two sets of 15 reps. If you aren't lifting heavy enough to use 10lbs for increments use 5lbs. Or just do like other programs and use 2.5% for your increase.
10's: Find your 10 rep max and put that workout at #6, then do the same as when you set up your 15's.
5's: Setup is the same as for your 10's.
2's: These are negatives. Done with more weight than you are able to lift, done with a partner. You are assisted to get the weight into place, then you control the negative, bringing the weight back to the starting point slowly with control. If you don't have a partner or are unable to do the negatives you can simply extend the 5's by another two weeks. My personal preference during this time is to switch to 3x3 (3 sets of 3 reps) and push to get stronger for two weeks. Then when I test for my new 5RM, I'm much stronger than I would have been otherwise and am able to use more weight for my next training cycle.
Strategic deconditioning:Well you've had eight weeks of difficult and progressively heavier training. You are bigger and stronger. What to do now? Keep pushing and risk over-training? Or maybe take a break? Well, instead of just taking a break now is the time in HST to actually decondition. In other words you take a full two weeks off from your training. This gets your body out of the mode where it's ready to train hard and heavy, where it's now gotten used to the heavy weights and is going to fight against getting bigger and stronger. By taking two weeks off your body now gets confused when you hit it with weights again. It is forced, even with the lighter weights you were using ten weeks before to respond to the frequency and overload you are hitting it with now...and how does it respond? By getting bigger and stronger. Since you are at least a little stronger than you were ten weeks ago, you can repeat the training using weights that are slightly heavier than they were for your last HST training cycle. You will likely be able to handle 5-10lbs more the next training cycle than you did in the one before it.
Is this the end all, be all final word on building muscle? No it is not. But it is very effective and is definitely worth eight weeks of your time to give it a fair evaluation and see what it will do for you. I think you will be pleased by the results you see.