How to Combine HIIT with Weight Training


Everyone should want to feel healthy and to be able to live in a way that they can experience happiness and achieve their fullest potential, right? Well, great health and energy are made possible and sustained by some form of regular exercise. As former professional boxer Gene Tunney stated, “To enjoy the glow of good health, you must exercise.” And Doctor of Medicine Kenneth H. Cooper added, “The reason I exercise is for the quality of life I enjoy.” There are many ways to exercise but two of the most beneficial are HIIT and weight (or strength) training. Why choose one when you can do both? Here are some tips on how to combine HIIT and weight training, resulting in the best solution of all.

What is HIIT and Why is it so Good for You?

HIIT is the abbreviation for high-intensity interval training. It is a cardiovascular workout using short periods of intense exercise. These intense workouts typically last 30 minutes or less, depending on the participant’s fitness level and fitness goals. Short sets of exercise like 45 seconds of jumping jacks, followed by a short rest are repeated a small number of times in combination with other explosive exercises in a cycle of strenuous exertion followed by a brief rest. The goal is to push yourself really hard. As fitness trainer Fred Devito pointed out, “If it doesn’t challenge you it doesn’t change you.”

HIIT has become one of the top exercise methods because it can be modified easily to fit the needs of people in all fitness levels and those with special fitness needs, all while achieving great results.

The benefits of HIIT are:

  • A faster burn of body fat and increased metabolism. And, one’s metabolic rate can stay elevated for 24-48 hours after each session.
  • A strengthened heart and reduced resting heart rate.
  • An improved lung capacity.
  • Maintained muscle mass because HIIT consumes fat stored in the body.
  • Improved glucose tolerance.
  • Having lower blood pressure, improved insulin levels, and better cholesterol levels.
  • Increased production of human growth hormone.
  • Helps control the aging process.

Also, studies have indicated that 15 or 20 minutes of HIIT done three times a week can provide more health benefits than jogging on a treadmill for an hour, so the exercise can take less time and be more exercise-efficient than the customary or traditional approaches.

Yet, with these benefits, the outcomes are even more improved for those who combine HIIT with weight training.

What are the Benefits of Weight Training?

The fact is that exercising with weights is not just the realm of athletes or bodybuilders. It should be included in everyone’s exercise program. Weight training can:

  • Increase one’s physical capacity to work, that is to be able to work harder and longer.
  • Improve bone density and thus control the natural aging process of bone loss.
  • Promote the growth of body mass with less fat.
  • Result in increased strength of connective tissue, tendons, and muscles.
  • Improve self-esteem.
  • Alleviate or remediate chronic health problems or injury.
  • Improve strength and balance.
  • Overall, it can improve a person’s quality of life through better immunity, wellness, and better sleep.

How to Combine HIIT with Weight Training for the Best Results

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While high-intensity training may seem formidable, consider that it can be enjoyable because it is so flexible. With moderate exercise like walking, jogging, or bike-riding, the fact is that your heart, lungs, and muscles can pace themselves. With HIIT, you are putting your system to the test, going all out for short bursts. And, combining HIIT and weight training provides the benefits of muscle growth with endurance.


Using the principles of HIIT with weight training and then alternating weightlifting and HIIT exercises can achieve great results. Use these weight training tips:

  1. Increase the intensity of the weight training by increasing the speed of movements.
  2. Lift heavier weights with fewer sets in shorter bursts of time.
  3. Use different movement patterns to work more muscles, burn more calories, and consume more oxygen. Use compound movements like a push-pull and alternating movements like shifting from bicep curls to overhead press push.
  4. Take shorter breaks.

In all weight training work, it is important to not overdo it. Further, it is important to allow recovery time between intensive exercise sessions.

Here are some great HIIT exercises:

  • Toe Touch — 15 reps
  • Butt kick — 25 reps per leg
  • Side lunge — 10 reps per side
  • Straight lunge — 10 reps per leg
  • High knee — 25 reps per leg
  • Trunk twist — 20 reps per side
  • Arm circle — 20 reps per arm
  • Side bend — 20 reps per side
  • Jumping jacks — 40 seconds

These can be combined with even more intense short sessions using:

  • Stairmaster
  • Treadmill sprints
  • Stationary cycle
  • Jump rope

The key to making HIIT work is real intensity. To improve aerobic fitness, intervals typically are 1:1. For example, exercise hard for 30 seconds then rest for 30 seconds.  If you are new to HIIT, start cautiously with intervals of one to three minutes at 80 percent intensity, followed by three to five minutes of rest or low-intensity exercise.

Use weight training on alternate days for a balanced fitness program.

HIIT and Weight Training Schedule

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Developing an effective HIIT and weight training schedule that works—one you can enjoy and stick-to will be determined by what your fitness goals are and how much time you want to invest in exercise. It is better to start conservatively and build than to be over-ambitious and burn yourself out. Combining HIIT and weight training can have powerful and positive effects. Two basic approaches are to do HIIT and strength workouts on alternate days or in separate sessions on the same day such as morning and afternoon. The latter is not the recommended approach.

Here is one suggested HIIT cardio and weight training schedule:

  • Monday — Weight training
  • Tuesday — HIIT workout
  • Wednesday — Weight training
  • Thursday — HIIT workout
  • Friday — Weight training
  • Saturday — HIIT workout
  • Sunday – Rest

Note that some cardio exercising can be safely done every day of the week, but if combined with weight training, it is better to do it on alternating days. Weight training requires one day off for every day it is done because during weight training, muscles develop small tears that require time to heal before becoming strained again. Continuing to work out muscles without giving them a rest will cause deterioration instead of growth. Additionally, muscles become stiff during training, so cardio exercise on the “off days” helps to keep them limber. Even if muscles are stiff from weight training, that will not hinder HIIT training. In both training approaches, remember not to strain too much.

One key suggestion is to try to train each muscle group at least once per week—core, legs, back, etc. Having an HIIT and weight training schedule will help you realize your important health and fitness goals more assuredly than simply acting randomly with fitness activities, no matter how good each of those may be.

Concluding Thoughts

Use HIIT workouts to push you out of your exercising comfort zone, send your heart rate soaring, expanding your lungs, and making your body work harder to get oxygen to the muscles. Combine HIIT with weight training to get the best outcomes for your fitness program.


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