6 Benefits of Adding High-Intensity Resistance Training (HIRT) to Your Workout Routine

Posted by Aaron Laurence on Jun 21st 2021

Aaron Lawrence demonstrates a dumbbell squat press with a set of YBells
Dumbbell squat presses are an excellent exercise to add to your HIRT workout.

6 Benefits of Adding High-Intensity Resistance Training (HIRT) to Your Workout Routine

High-intensity resistance training: If you haven’t tried it yet, I can tell you that you’ll love the post-session endorphin rush and how easy it is to fit a HIRT workout into your daily routine. Most importantly, you’ll love the promise of quick results with your consistent training.

Are you ready to add high-intensity resistance training (HIRT) into your workouts? Here’s what you need to know:

What Is High-Intensity Resistance Training?  

You've probably heard a lot about high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which is known for burning more calories in less time compared to other forms of exercise. Much like HIIT, the core principle of HIRT is to maintain high levels of intensity throughout the session, using resistance (typically in the form of free weights) to challenge your muscles, with short rests between circuits.

With the addition of resistance, you’ll need to home your focus on using proper form in your movements. This delivers maximum energy expenditure, resulting in peak calorie burn and cardiovascular output while you’re training.

A vital factor to keep in mind is that HIRT is not a form of powerlifting. You want to use lighter weights than your typical strength level because the goal is to perform more reps.

What Equipment Do You Need for a HIRT Workout?

You don’t need a lot of equipment for a HIRT workout. Resistance bands can be great for helping you focus on form as you’re starting out. You’ll also want some light free weights like a pair of dumbbells, a kettlebell, or a medicine ball. Many people choose to buy all three to add versatility to their exercise options.

Since resistance exercises tend to use some variety of these three pieces of traditional workout equipment, an equipment alternative is to use a YBell for your HIRT workout since you can use it in place of all three. The YBell is not only more cost-effective, but it also speeds up your workout since you won't have to swap out equipment between exercises.

The beauty of only needing one piece of equipment means you can do HIRT workouts virtually anywhere — at a gym, in your home gym, or even outside at a park or beach.

6 Reasons to Add HIRT to Your Workout Routine

HIRT is one of the most challenging strength training workouts, but it also offers impressive results in terms of weight loss, strength and muscle gain, core strength, and cardio endurance.

1. HIRT Offers Higher Resting Energy Expenditure

According to a study published in the Journal of Translational Medicine, HIRT workouts have an increased post-workout energy expenditure compared to traditional forms of resistance or weight training.

The increased resting energy expenditure also causes your body to increase fat oxidation. This means that you’re burning calories and breaking down fat while recovering from your workout.

2. HIRT Stimulates Muscle Growth and Endurance

Resistance training stimulates hypertrophy, which is an increase in muscular size. Combining resistance training with lighter weights and higher reps helps build muscle tone and improve muscle endurance.

3. HIRT Combines Cardio Training and Strength Training

Cardiovascular training is all about raising your heart and breathing rates to improve the function of your heart and lungs. The very nature of doing high-intensity resistance exercises at higher reps, with short breaks, keeps your heart rate and breathing rate strong throughout your workout.

4. HIRT Workouts Are Low-impact

Compared to many forms of cardio exercise (running, stair climbing, hiking, burpees, etc.), resistance training tends to be gentler on your joints. So if you have joint pain or injuries, HIRT can give you all the benefits of cardiovascular fitness and weight training without the high impact.

5. HIRT Workouts Are Short and Effective

If you have difficulty finding time for a sweat session at the gym, HIRT workouts are for you. You can pack a lot of volume into a short training session. And since HIRT workouts can be done virtually anywhere, including in your home gym, you can even cut out the commute.

6. HIRT Can Be Great for Your Mental Health

Another great benefit that most people don’t expect from their HIRT training is a stronger mental attitude. High-intensity workouts are all about overcoming adversity and pushing yourself further than you thought you could go. You’ll be proud of your accomplishments after each HIRT routine.

7 Tips for Creating HIRT Workouts at Home

As you’re starting out, it will be essential to have a plan for your HIRT workouts. Here are some tips that can help you get the most out of your high-intensity resistance training at home.

1. Write Out Each Workout Ahead of Time

Since the goal is to keep your heart rate up, you need to keep your rests short. Don’t try to plan your workout on the fly. Your best bet is to plan ahead and write down your exercises for each set of your HIRT workout.

2. Strive For Three or More 10-minute Sets

Each set should last about 10 minutes, and the entire HIRT workout should be 30 to 45 minutes. It's okay to have shorter sets when you’re first starting out. There’s nothing wrong with having a goal to work toward!

Just remember to keep the intensity up, regardless of the length of your sets. That’s another reason why you should use lighter weights.

3. Focus on Full-Body Workouts

If you only focus on one muscle group, you’ll be exhausted and wear out those muscles in the first few minutes. Focusing on a different muscle group with each exercise allows your muscles to rest and gives you a more effective workout.

4. Try for 8 to 15 Reps Per Exercise for Max Effort

8 to 15 reps will help you target intensity, volume, and load. It’s okay to start on the lower end — you’ll gain more muscle endurance and be able to add in more reps over time.

5. Rest for 1 Minute Between Each Set

Shooting for a one-minute rest time is ideal for keeping your heart rate up and intensity high. As you become more proficient with HIRT routines, try gradually dropping your rest times down to 30 seconds to get even more out of your workout.

6. Focus on Your Form

You want to keep your workout moving, but don’t forget to focus on proper form. The last thing you want is an injury.

As you’re creating your HIRT workout, start with exercises you’re familiar with so that you can keep proper form even as your body tires. If you find that your form is suffering, practice these movements in slower motion before adding them back to your high-intensity routine. Remember, quality is always better than quantity.

7. Rest for 48 Hours Between Each HIRT Workout

Just like HIIT workouts, you want to allow your muscles to have enough recovery time between workouts. If you're going to work out between your HIRT sessions, consider active recovery workouts like yoga, swimming, or stretching.

Here’s a Sample HIRT Workout You Can Do at Home

Try these 10-minute sets in your home gym for a full HIRT workout. Try to push yourself for the full 10 minutes, and keep your rest to 1 minute between sets.

Set 1

8-15 reps or roughly 2.5 minutes per exercise

Set 2

8-15 reps or roughly 2.5 minutes per exercise

Set 3

8-15 reps or roughly 2.5 minutes per exercise

As always, consult your physician before starting high-intensity training, especially if you have any underlying medical concerns.

Aaron "Az" Laurence, Co-Founder, YBell Fitness

As a certified personal trainer and the inventor of the YBell, Aaron "Az" Laurence loves motivating people to become better versions of themselves. He enjoys designing challenging workouts for himself that he can use with his clients.
Az developed the YBell to replace the multiple pieces of equipment he was using in his group training sessions. He enjoys seeing his clients' reactions when they realize they only have to change grips on their YBells to change equipment. And he loves being able to dial up the intensity of their workouts with just one training tool.
Seeing clients progress both physically and mentally as a result of training fuels his passion for the fitness industry.