125 – Mark Houghton on HIT Bodybuilding, Mike Mentzer’s Heavy Duty, and Zone Training (J-Reps)

Mark Houghton
Mark Houghton at 47

Mark Houghton is a pro bodybuilder, BNBF (British National Bodybuilding Federation) British Over-40s and Overall Masters Champion. Mark made his professional debut at the DFAC (Natural Bodybuilding) world finals and placed 3rd in the Masters Class.

Early on in his training, Mark was introduced to the work of Arthur Jones and Mike Mentzer. Throughout his training career, Mark has utilised heavy-duty split routines, high and low volume/frequency and zone training (J-Reps) using mostly Nautilus and MedX equipment.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • Mark’s most productive routines
  • How Mark’s routines have changed throughout his training career
  • Mark’s training inspirations
  • How to use HIT to prepare for bodybuilding contests
  • How some stuff just doesn’t matter (and how to relax about it)
  • High-Carb diets
  • … and much more

Listen below:

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Would you like to hear from another HIT Bodybuilder? Check out my episode with John Heart where we discuss all of the details of John’s pre-contest workout routine, frequency, volume and diet. Listen here or stream below:

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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: How do you track your training performance week-to-week? Let me know in the comments below.

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Comments 10

  • Another great interview Lawrence! Nice to listen to someone speak from experience rather than academic perspective. I ‘spoke’ to Mark via a bodybuilding forum a few years ago and he took the time to write some very detailed responses to my questions which I thought was really cool of him! Given Mark’s level of development and his take on training has it changed your perspective on your own training and potential?

    • Thank you Gareth. I can’t really sit here and say I’ve reached my potential because I haven’t been rigorous enough with my own N=1. Something always seems to get in the way. However, as I get older, I care less and less about “optimisation” and instead work to maintain my muscle and leanness. However, I do believe that Mark is a natural. IMO most people cannot build a physique like his. He’s blessed with strong genetics. That is not to take away from his achievements. It takes an enormous amount of discipline and consistency to achieve what Mark achieved, but I don’t want people to get disillusioned that they can achieve the same physique, when they’ve already been training for years and seen no such results.

  • On counting reps – I’ve started this in addition to TUL just for some variety. I also really struggle to keep track, though! My training partner counted for me last workout and my rep count was different from his count for me on every exercise!
    I’m not an expert in this area, but I think it has something to do with left brain / right brain differences. Counting reps seems more left brain / analytical, whereas the internal focus of good form seems more right brain oriented. I was just glad to hear that someone else has a hard time counting reps!

    • Hahah I’m glad I’m not the only one! Maybe it doesn’t even matter? Many HIT participants no longer count TUL or reps.

      • I wonder this as well. It’s not like your muscles can count! I don’t believe there is any research to say that there is an optimum TUL?

        • Not to my knowledge. Very difficult study to do. Even if you controlled as many variables as possible, you still need a massive sample size, and practically all these studies have fewer than 30 participants and meta-analyses seem to work too well in RT.

      • True ! I think that the effort that one is training with is of paramount importance with regards to training results .

  • Hey Lawrence, a very nice guy and a very nice interview. I have a few comments. I just can’t see how certain training techniques, like J reps, may be proclaimed as productive by themselves. What I can understand though is that variations of a movement or an exercise may be more suitable for an individual in order to allow better focus, exertion, form and eventually effect from the movement /exercise.
    Regarding TUL measurements, as far as I’m concerned, one would like to track the TUL of a set, for two reasons . For one to evaluate progress or regress. And secondly to ensure his individual load/inroad/recovery mixture. So one (backwards) approach, that I got from Bill de Simone is to preset your timer for the desired TUL for a set. From then on focuse on form. Then you can easily adjust from there up or down with the load. Once you figure this out, you can stick to reps or just your form and style. If you are making meaningful progress imo, that should be visible and easy to feel. It would be distinctive enough and not a matter of a few seconds up or down. After all one more full controlled repetition or even half of such , will be more than a few seconds increase.
    Lastly, I do share Mark’s view on protein/carb ratio, with regards to natural bodybuilders.

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