Analysis of HST

HST or Hypertrophy Specific Training is a popular training program, partly because it has a marketable name. For those of us who are more concerned with mass (and not so much athletic performance), then a name like Hypertrophy Specific Training will raise a lot of interest. HST is the brainchild of Bryan Haycock, and it espouses these principles:
  • Train each body part every 48 hours, or basically three times per week.
  • Increase the weight each and every workout.
  • Decrease the reps every two weeks.
  • Decondition the muscle before you do it all over again.

There's more to it than that, but those are the basics. For instance, HST prescribes 2 sets per exercise. Here's my take on HST:

1) The high frequency of training is good for size. For gaining, retaining and building on what you've gained in size, it is always better to train more frequently (3-4 times per week). For high frequency training, then HST fits the bill.

2) Two sets per exercise really doesn't incur as much growth as higher set totals. This is one drawback to HST. Two sets per exercise works well for beginners and old people, but not so much for the intermediate to advanced lifter. High frequency/low set training is great for strength, but crappy for size and hypertrophy. Unless you're doing other physical activities (MMA, strongman competition, shotput, etc.), then it's better to vary your set totals from workout to workout: i.e. 3 sets-6 sets-2 sets.

3) The periodization of reps should be compressed into a week's span. I know, I keep pounding this point in, but it needs to be said: your body responds better to compressed cycles of reps rather than longer cycles. Whereas HST has you doing 15 reps in Week One, 10 reps in Week Two and 5 reps in Week Three, you will get better results by doing it all in one week: Monday (15 reps), Wednesday (10 reps), Friday (5 reps).

Cycling your reps within the week is much better, because you will gain size and strength at a faster rate. Overall, HST is not a bad program. But if you vary the sets and use weekly cycles of reps, then HST will be a great program.

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