How to Combine HIIT and Strength Training Routines

We’re big fans of high intensity interval training (HIIT). It strengthens our hearts, builds endurance, and can be done just about anywhere. From running on the treadmill to gliding away on the elliptical, HIIT can be stacked with other forms of cardio for a quick and killer workout.

That said, HIIT and strength training might not initially make sense as a pair—and they shouldn’t always go hand-in-hand.

“Once you’re at a certain training level, HIIT is HIIT, and strength is strength. There are different energy systems involved,” explains Aaptiv trainer Mark Sayer.

Basically, each type of exercise focuses on different systems in the body. Strength training zeroes in on your muscles, while HIIT largely targets your heart rate (this tracker is our favorite).

This, of course, doesn’t mean that HIIT can’t target your muscles and vice versa. This also doesn’t mean that these exercise styles can’t be merged.

But to really target either part, you want to work them alone more often than together. However, if you already do this and find that you’re short on time or that your strength workouts are getting lackluster, test the HIIT and strength training waters.

Read on to see how you can take your strength session to a higher intensity.

Take shorter rests.

The goal of HIIT is to elevate your heart rate quickly. This is usually done by performing short bursts of high-intensity activity, followed by a brief resting period.

You repeat this format throughout your workout, with your heart constantly adjusting to new intensities. Typically, in between weight lifting sets, you’ll take a short rest.

According to Sayer, the easiest way to work HIIT into your strength routine is “to shorten the rests.” This will keep your heart rate from falling into full-on break mode.

While this may prove difficult at first, it’ll continually shock your heart rate. It will also test (and therefore improve) your endurance and aerobic capacity.

Add cardio between sets.

If shortening your rests isn’t doing it for you, go a step further and turn those rests into cardio sets.

“If I’m between structured programs and I want to have a workout that gets both a good sweat in and a pump, I love taking a typical bodybuilding workout and then just adding one minute of jump rope after each set,” Sayer explains.

Then, depending on the size of the muscles being worked, he’ll take a 15- to 30-second rest (when working larger muscles, such as lower body muscles) or no rest at all (when working smaller ones, such as the biceps).

During these cardio sets, you can do anything that gets your heart racing. Try jumping jacks, mountain climbers, or burpees.

Check out Aaptiv’s cardio workouts here.

Use movement patterns.

“ larger and more muscles burns more calories and require more oxygen. So focus on compound movements,” Sayer says. “Push-pull is a classic pattern, for example. This way, your pressing muscles rest while the pulling muscles work and vice versa. And your heart is pumping blood the whole time,” he explains.

Working more muscles in this way will not only build your overall strength but raise your heart rate in a way similar to classic HIIT.

Alternate between simple strength training moves like bicep curls (pull) and an overhead press (push). Other examples could be going from a bench press (push) to a back row (pull).

“For your lower and upper body, try 30 seconds of kettlebell swings, 15 seconds rest, and then 30 seconds of push-ups,” Sayer says. Keep the pattern going throughout your workout to target more muscles and challenge your heart and lungs. Minimal adjustments with maximum benefits? We’ll take it.

Do weighted movements.

If you’re strength training, chances are that you’re going to use a weight (or several). Rather than perform your typical sitting or standing weighted movements, focus on ones that involve more movement.

Kettlebells are ideal, here. Kettlebell swings, in particular, are great for quickly raising your heart rate. Performing a few sets of these targets your muscles and keeps you moving—and therefore, keeps your heart and lungs really working.

Other moves, like the clean and press, will have the same high-intensity effect. When sticking to kettlebells (or any other type of weight) you can quickly and easily move between different exercises, avoiding rest for too long.

The same idea could be applied to free weights, barbells, and similar equipment. Just make sure that you’re performing moves you’ve done before or that you’ve taken the time to practice in front of a mirror.

Ready to try a HIIT workout with Aaptiv? Check out the audio-fitness experience here.

As a person who gets quite bored in workouts, I’ve definitely hopped on the HIIT train over the past year. At the gym, you can catch me either doing a HIIT running workout, or alternating (swiftly!) between bursts of burpees and strength training and cardio movements for the biggest bang for my sweaty buck.

Despite being such a devotee, though, I’ve never come across HIIT weightlifting as an option…until now. If you’re not such a fan of cardio machines or plyometrics, you can still get your HIIT on using weights and only weights. “High-intensity interval training workouts burn more calories beyond the workout itself because your body is working 24 to 36 hours after the workout,” says Angela Leigh, trainer and director of talent and fitness at Aaptiv. “To create that same EPOC—excess post-exercise oxygen consumption—effect of traditional HIIT workouts with just weights, you need to combine certain movement patterns, big bang exercises for reps and times. The goal is to complete movements with as little rest as possible to maximize the output.”

So just as you’d take up the intensity of a regular run in order to make it HIIT-worthy, you’d essentially do the same to your weightlifting routine. How, exactly, can you do that? According to celebrity trainer Lacey Stone, you just have to lift heavy and incorporate little plyometric-type cardio spikes to lift your heart rate and tone your muscles at the same time. “In my opinion, incorporating HIIT training to weightlifting is the fastest way to achieve results,” she tells me. “A HIIT weightlifting workout is great for people with busy lifestyles because they get both a cardio and strength workout in one.” And you never have to hit that cardio machine section of your gym in order to do it.

Try Stone’s hardcore HIIT weightlifting workout for yourself

Circuit 1: 3 rounds—1st round is 1 minute; 2nd round is 45 seconds; 3rd round is 30 seconds
1. Dumbbell lunges
2. Tuck jumps
3. Russian twist

Circuit 2: 3 rounds—1st round is 1 minute; 2nd round is 45 seconds; 3rd round is 30 seconds
1. 10 push-ups or tricep push-ups
2. Dumbbell bicep curl-shoulder press combo
3. Speed skaters

Circuit 3: 3 rounds—1st round is 1 minute; 2nd round is 45 seconds; 3rd round is 30 seconds
1. Dumbbell bent-over row
2. Single-glute bridge with a pulse
3. Cardio kicks

By the way, here’s why you should join cardio and weight training together—instead of choosing one over the other. And this is what fitness trainers say about doing cardio vs. strength training first during a workout.

Short, intense workouts that are becoming wildly popular may help build muscle better than traditional exercise

  • High-intensity interval workouts have become popular in recent years, since research shows they offer ways to improve athletic performance while spending less time working out.
  • A recent study shows that high-intensity interval training is effective for weight lifting or strength training in addition to cardio exercise.
  • Participants in that study saw more improvement doing interval training than people doing traditional strength-training programs, despite spending less than half the amount of time working out.

The idea that you can spend less time working out yet see benefits equal to those from conventional exercise routines sounds too good to be true.

Yet as devotees of high-intensity interval training workouts know, short but intense workouts are excellent ways to improve athletic performance.

Most of these types of workouts focus on cardio exercises like running or cycling. But a recent study by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) found that it’s possible to apply the high-intensity interval framework to strength training, too.

It turns out that if you want to get stronger, short intense workouts could be the fastest way to do so.

Applying interval training to weight lifting

In general, high-intensity interval training involves workouts that alternate bursts of activity at close to maximum possible intensity with periods of rest.

To test the effectiveness of this sort of training for weight lifting, the researchers behind the ACE study recruited 48 men and women who were generally healthy between the ages of 21 and 59. They randomly assigned participants to either a six-week high-intensity strength-training program, a traditional six-week strength-training program, or a control group that did no particular exercise.

Ghana’s Sintim Joe Aboagye competes in the men’s 85kg weightlifting competition at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi October 8, 2010. Amit Dave/Reuters

The participants hadn’t done any strength or resistance training for six months before the study, so researchers figured out the maximum weight they could lift for one repetition and for five repetitions of 10 different exercises. The moves included chest presses, lat pull-downs, biceps curls, seated rows, shoulder presses, and leg presses.

The group that did traditional strength training followed standard fitness industry guidelines. For the first three weeks, the participants worked out twice a week, doing 10 repetitions of each exercise per workout. They lifted 60% of the weight that the researchers had determined to be their maximum for a single repetition of each exercise. Then for the next three weeks, they worked out three times a week, doing two sets of 12 reps at 70% of that maximum weight.

Participants in the high-intensity group also worked out twice a week for the first three weeks. But they did five repetitions of each exercise, lifting the maximum weight they could handle for those reps. Then for the next three weeks, that group did sets of five reps with the maximum weight three times per week. These workouts took less than half the time of the traditional workouts.

Both groups experienced a significant decrease in body fat percentage, and both groups got stronger. But only the high-intensity group saw a drop in blood pressure and levels of bad cholesterol. The high-intensity group also saw more significant gains in strength overall and got stronger faster. They showed significant improvement at the midpoint of the training program, while people in the traditional workout group took up to the full six weeks to see significant strength improvement.

Overall, the results suggested that people got stronger on the high-intensity program even though they spent far less time working out.

Business Insider

Taking care at high intensity

The study authors wrote that people who think they don’t have time to exercise could be directed to try a high-intensity program. Plus, it’s satisfying to see improvement quickly, so that benefit might encourage people to stick with a high-intensity training program.

Still, this was a very small study, and it didn’t last long. So we don’t know if high-intensity fitness programs would continue to yield these results over longer periods of time. It would also be useful to see whether larger groups of people derive the same benefits from high-intensity programs as these study participants did.

The authors also wrote that it’s important to make sure people learn safe lifting techniques before starting any high-intensity program like the one used in the study. No one was hurt in the study, but lifting at maximum intensity could make someone more likely to injure themselves if they have poor form.

Nonetheless, the results are promising for anyone interested in strength training.

Getting stronger is the best way to reverse the bone and muscle loss that people start experiencing at some point after age 30, according to Shawn Arent, director of the Center for Health and Human Performance at Rutgers University and a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine.

So by building strength, “you’re reversing aging,” Arent recently told Business Insider.

13 Killer Exercises to Mix Into Your HIIT Workout


When you’re in the mood for a full-body, fast-paced workout, you probably head online for high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout videos. But when your WiFi’s on the fritz and non-stop buffering is ruining your sweat sesh, you’re not totally S.O.L.

These 13 HIIT exercises are a gift from Amanda Butler, a New York City-based personal trainer formerly with The Fhitting Room (a studio dedicated to HIIT workouts). By combining these killer moves into one routine, you get a homemade HIIT workout that burns calories and fires up your muscles.

How it works: Perform each equipment-free exercise for a minute, followed by a minute of rest.

You’ll need: No equipment, just some space

1. Hand-Release Push-Ups

Start in a standard push-up position, and lower your body all the way down to the floor. Lift your hands off the ground for a second, then exhale while you press your body all the way back up. If you need to modify this move, just drop to your knees—it will still make for an intense HIIT workout. (Having trouble mastering the push-up? Fitness pro Hannah Davis is here to help.)

2. Plyo Push-Ups

Start in push-up position, and lower your body to the floor. Get a big push off the floor and lift your hands off the ground before landing back in push-up position. To modify, drop to your knees.

3. Russian Twists

For a HIIT workout that strengthens your core, Russian twists are a necessity. Sit on the floor, with your heels touching the floor or lifted (more advanced) and your hands at your chest. Twist from side to side.

4. Single-Leg Burpees

Lower your body into a squat, and place your hands on the floor directly in front of your feet. Jump your feet back with only one foot touching the floor, and lower your body to the ground. Bring your feet back to your hands, then jump into the air on that same foot without letting the other touch the ground. Go directly into the next rep without touching down. Repeat for 30 seconds on each side. (BTW, this is the right way to do burpees.)

5. Supermans with Lateral Raises

Lying on your stomach, lift your legs and arms off the floor, arms reaching straight in front of you. You should be squeezing your back and glutes to keep your legs up. Pull your elbows down to your waist, return to starting posting, and repeat.

6. Lateral Lunges with Hops

In this HIIT workout move, step your left leg out to your side for a lateral lunge, keeping your right leg straight. Bring left leg up to a 90-degree angle and hop on your right leg. Repeat on each side.

7. Tuck-Ups

Lie on your back with arms straight over your head. Crunch your legs into your chest as you lift your back off the floor. Grab your legs, balancing on your glutes. Return to starting position and repeat.

8. Mountain Climbers

Start in high plank position with your shoulders over your wrists. Quickly drive each knee into your chest one at a time as if you’re running.

9. Plank Jacks

Start in low plank position with feet hip-width apart. Hop your feet out wider than hip-width, and then hop back to the starting position. Keep your abs tight and don’t allow your butt to pop up above the height of your shoulders for a HIIT workout move that hurts so good. (Related: )

10. Squat Thrusts

From standing position, drop hands to the floor and kick feet back, so you’re in plank position. Hop your feet back to center and return to standing.

11. Plank-Ups

Start in high plank position. Place your right elbow under your right shoulder, then left elbow under your left shoulder, so you’re in low plank position. Make sure to keep your shoulders stacked over your wrists. Press back up to high plank position, starting with your right arm. Repeat, rotating leading arms each time.

12. Flutter Kicks

In this core-strengthening HIIT workout exercise, lie on your back with your hands behind your head, holding your head and shoulders up off the floor. Keeping your legs long and straight, bring one leg into the air while the other hovers parallel to the ground. Keep switching legs continuously.

13. Star Jumps

Standing with feet together, jump off the ground bringing your arms and legs out so that your body forms a star-shape. Land with knees slightly bent, arms by your knees.

Want more? Also check out this Total-Body At-Home HIIT Workout or this Core-Strengthening Plank HIIT Workout.

Heart-Smart HIIT Workout

This 35 minute routine incorporates the treadmill, cycle bike, and elliptical. If limited equipment is available, simply split time between the machines. The order doesn’t matter, just as long as your workout gets done.

1. Treadmill

  • 30 Seconds of light/moderate jogging pace
  • 20 seconds of sprint pace (don’t overdue it!)
  • 15 seconds of holding a squat-sit position (feet straddling the outside of the belt)
  • Repeat until 10 minutes are up

2 minutes rest

2. Cycle Bike

Grab a pair of 2-10 pound (depending on ability level) dumbbells for this one! Set the cycle on to a difficulty you can maintain and start peddling!

  • 30 seconds of moderate pace cycling while doing alternating shoulder presses (keep your palms facing each other)
  • 30 seconds of light pace cycling while doing alternating hammer curls
  • 20 seconds of high intensity pace cycling while keeping dumbbells tucked into your body
  • Repeat until 10 minutes are up

2 minutes rest

3. Elliptical

  • 20 seconds of moderate difficulty while stretching your arms straight up
  • 20 seconds of moderate difficulty while bringing your arms down in a punching position, dropping your hips a few inches, and keeping your torso as still as possible
  • 30 seconds moderate difficulty backwards
  • 20 seconds HIGHEST difficulty as HARD AS YOU CAN!
  • Repeat until 10 minutes are up

When you’re done be sure to do a victory fist pump, wipe down your equipment, and say “Like a BOSS!” (or whatever it is you say).

Now go HIIT it up!

Let’s discuss!

What workout’s do you do on your favorite cardio machines? Share in the comments below!

The Shredder Fat Loss Workout

Lose Body Fat with the Best Fat Burning Exercises and HIIT Training

Welcome to our Shredder Fat Loss Workout instruction guide!
Here you’ll learn how to do this weight loss workout and be able to download and print the free workout plan. First, a quick summary:

Workout Summary: The Shredder Fat Loss Workout
Training Level: Advanced
Main Goal: Lose Body Fat
Days Per Week: 4-5
Workout Type: Weight Lifting Routine and HIIT* Training

*HIIT=High Intensity Interval Training

Workout Description:

The Shredder Fat Loss Workout is similar to The Burner Weight Loss Workout. We’ll keep your heart rate up by mixing HIIT cardio exercise with Compound Exercises to help you lose body fat and achieve results, but in a slightly different manner.
On this weight loss workout, three days will consist of HIIT Training as well as a weight lifting routine (through alternating Workouts A, B, and C) and two days will be devoted to 30-45 minutes of cardio exercise alone. If you’re feeling particularly motivated and are seeking 6 pack abs, add an ab workout to a rest day or a cardio workout day.

  • Day 1 – Workout A
  • Day 2 – 30-45 Minutes of Cardio Interval Training
  • Day 3 – Workout B
  • Day 4 – 30-45 Minutes of Cardio Interval Training
  • Day 5 – Workout C
  • Day 6 – Rest Day
  • Day 7 – Rest Day

As you can see, a cardio workout or a day of rest will always come between workouts A, B, and C to give your muscles adequate time to recover. In the beginning, if you’re fairly sore after a weight lifting routine, skip the cardio. However, after a couple of weeks, you should be making it through all five days, wuss.

Workout Routines A, B, and C:

The order of workout routines A, B, and C is as follows:

  1. Start with a five minute warm-up (jogging, elliptical, etc.)
  2. Three cycles through the weightlifting circuit
  3. 15-20 minutes of interval training

So, warm-up, three cycles through the weightlifting circuit, interval cardio. Each of the workout routines is a full body workout will work your upper body, lower body, and core, shredding fat along the way.
Rest for 30-60 seconds between each superset but do not rest between the individual exercises within the superset.

Workout A

Superset Weight Training Exercises Sets x Reps
A Incline Bench Press 2 x 6-8
Bent Over Row 2 x 8-10
Barbell Step Ups 2 x 8-10
B High Knees 30-60 seconds
Mountain Climber 3 x 12-15 Per Side
Plyo Pushups 3 x 10-12 Per Side
C Chin Ups or Reverse Grip Lat Pull Down 2 x 8-10
Exercise Ball Jacknife 2 x 12-15
Tricep Dips 2 x 12-15

Workout B

Superset Weight Training Exercises Sets x Reps
A Barbell Squats 2 x 6-8
Body Row 2 x 8-10
Plank Exercise Hold for 60s
B Box Jumps 3 x 12-15
Pushups to Plank Exercise 3 x 15-20
Bicycle Crunch Exercise 3 x 12-15 Per Side
C Dumbbell Lunge 2 x 8-10 Per Leg
Dumbbell Front Raise 2 x 8-10 Per Arm
Good Morning 2 x 10-12

Workout C

Superset Weight Training Exercises Sets x Reps
A Barbell Bench Press 2 x 6-8
Barbell Deadlifts 2 x 8-10
Hanging Leg Raises 2 x 12-15
B Clean and Press Exercise 3 x 10-12
Jumping Jacks 3 x 25
C Pull Ups or Lat Pulldown 2 x 8-10
Tricep Pushups 2 x MAX
Split Squats 2 x 8-10 Per Leg


  • To burn the most calories, concentrate on cardiovascular exercises that get your whole body involved and work all of your muscles such as running outside or on a treadmill or using the elliptical machine, rower, or stair climber.
  • Alter your weight loss workout as well as your cardio exercise of choice at least every 6 weeks. The more experienced you are, the more frequently you need to alter your routine.

Related Pages

  • 6 Best Ab Exercises
  • Compound Exercises and Fat Burning Exercises
  • Weight Loss for Beginners and Beginner Workout Routines
  • Tips to Lose Weight
    • Healthy Diet Tips
    • Exercise Tips for Weight Loss
    • Weight Loss Motivation Tips
  • Weight Loss Myths
  • Healthy Diet Plan and Fat Burning Foods

You’ve seen this Fat Loss Workout. Check out all the Workout Routines.
Start at our Home Page.

Hiit weight training workouts

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