O.S.W. vs H.I.T.

It is not unusual to find the strength training community divided when it comes to what style of training is best or how and when to employ the many training techniques and variables that are available. One of the most classic battles one finds is the one between the proponents of High Intensity Training or H.I.T. and those coaches and athletes who seem to prefer Olympic Style Weight Lifting or O.S.W. I personally have never really understood the almost religious fanaticism with which some may argue for or against their preferred approach to getting stronger.

For years I have been a fan of brief, intense and infrequent training. Having tried just about every one of the recognized (as well as the obscure) training programs that have come along in the last twenty years, I can honestly say that this is still true today. My goal has always been to find the precise amount of volume, frequency and intensity that will allow me to reach my goals with maximum efficiency and minimum down time. With years of trial and error, creative experimentation and hard work under my belt I have discovered a few combinations that seem to produce consistent results.

Now counter to the notion of this brief, intense, infrequent style of training, often referred to as H.I.T., I am also a fan of Olympic style weightlifting. For many this might seem odd. For some it may seem that the two styles are not compatible with one another. I assure you it is not odd, and they are very compatible. Olympic style weightlifting is very technical. The movements are often difficult to master and some of the positions may cause a great deal of discomfort in the early stages of learning. I guess that is one of the reasons I enjoy Olympic style weightlifting, the focus and attention to detail that is required to attain a sense of mastery is a lifetime journey. Almost anyone can learn to work hard on a basic movement such as a Lat Pull-down or a seated Row but to truly master the Snatch or Clean and Jerk requires far more patience and dedication. Now don’t get me wrong, I am all about hard work on the basics when it comes to efficient strength training. I am not one of those coaches who feels that Olympic style weightlifting is required for athletic success (unless of course you are an Olympic Weightlifter). But I do enjoy it and that is why I often include some Olympic style weightlifting movements in my personal training plan.

One way to combine the more classic H.I.T. style of training with Olympic style weightlifting is as follows. Start with a basic O-lifting routine*. Practice this routine in a strict order of exercises as well as sets, reps and rest periods. For your H.I.T. training days create short routines which are made up of basic pushing, pulling and squatting movements along with some assistance exercises. Perform these in a classic High tension Low force manner with an emphasis on slow, controlled movement. Workout roughly every other day alternating one of these basic H.I.T. routines with the O-lifting routine. In this way you will perform both the O-lifting and H.I.T. routines three times every two weeks. Use the O-lifting days as more technique polishing and active recovery days. Still train hard and heavy however do not train to failure and strive to always leave a few reps in the tank. On the H.I.T. days perform single sets to failure of a handful of movements and strive to take each set to the limit. This can be an excellent way to combine these two styles of lifting, reaping the maximum benefit that each has to offer while maintaining a balance between stimulus and recovery.

If you have always been a practitioner of either one or the other of these two styles of lifting perhaps now is the time to try something new. If you have never tried O.S.W. then I recommend that you find a qualified coach for your initial instruction as this style of lifting is quite technical. If you have rarely if ever trained to momentary muscular failure then ease into it as the muscular soreness that is sometimes associated with this style of training can be quite intense. What ever style of lifting you use, be sure to have a spotter where applicable. Get strong in the gym, never get injured.

Give this H.I.T. / O.S.W. combination a try and I think you may find it to be a fun and effective way to reap the rewards that each of these styles of training has to offer.



Example O.S.W. / H.I.T. Hybrid:

For the O-lifts I tend to stick with each routine for 12 workouts which following the above described pattern sees me changing things up about every eight weeks or so. On the H.I.T. days I get a little more creative varying the order of the exercises, reps, and rest intervals as well as employing advanced overload techniques when my energy and recovery allow. Keep in mind that these routines are just a few examples of thousands that you could employ.

O.S.W. Workout 1: (*Courtesy of Jim Schmitz)

1. Hang Power Snatch 5 x 5
2. Hang Power Clean 5 x 5
3. Clean Deadlift & Shrug 5 x 5
4. Push Press 5 x 5
5. Front Squat 5 x 5
6. Over Head Squat 3 x 5
7. Bench Press 3 x 10-8-6

H.I.T. Workouts

Workout 1. (A.J. Classic)

1. Squat 1 x 20
2. Single Leg Calf Raise 1 x 20 (each leg)
3. Standing Shoulder Press 1 x 10
4. Chin-up (weighted) 1 x 10
5. Dip (weighted) 1 x 10
6. Barbell Curl 1 x 10
7. Straight-legged Deadlift 1 x 15

Workout 2.

1. Dumbbell Squat 1 x 8-12
2. Dumbbell Fly 1 x 8-12
3. Dumbbell Lunge (stepping back) 1 x 8-12
4. Seated Cable row 1 x 8-12
5. Dumbbell Alternating Upright row 1 x 8-12
6. Triceps Over head extension 1 x 8-12
7. Dumbbell Incline curl 1 x 8-12

Workout 3.

1. Back Squat 1 x 8-12
2. Barbell Bench Press 1 x 8-12
3. Barbell Lunge (stepping forward) 1 x 8-12
4. Wide Lat Pull-down (in front) 1 x 8-12
5. Dumbbell Seated Press 1 x 8-12
6. Cable Curl 1 x 8-12
7. Cable Triceps Push-down 1 x 8-12

2 Responses

  1. I have been training for several years now and am always looking for new and inventive ways to lift. I have found that as I get older “CHANGE IS A MUST!” Not just in the way tha tI train, but also in the way that I train my clients.

    I have a young “hard gainer” that I will tyr this routine/principle on and get back with you.


  2. Sounds great, Alex! Please keep us informed on the progress. If you need need any other info, or want to try something else with your hard gainer, let us know. We’ll get you set up.
    Keep training hard and thanks for the post.

    Hybrid Fitness

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