Strength & Conditioning

8 Proven High Intensity Strength Training Benefits & Effects

high intensity strength training

High-intensity strength training, more commonly known as HIRT (High-Intensity Resistance Training) is a form of physical activity that combines elements of high-intensity interval training (HIIT workouts) with resistance training using free weights. 

HIRT workouts are designed to target the whole body offering you both cardiovascular and strength training benefits but, in less time, than if you were to undertake them as separate forms of exercise.   


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By incorporating weights, these high-intensity workouts can help you build muscle mass and muscle strength whilst helping to strip away unwanted body fat.

Is HIRT Better Than HIIT?

If your goal is to maximize strength gains and add muscle mass then yes, a HIRT workout would offer better results when compared to HIIT training.  

HIIT and HIRT are forms of anaerobic exercise.  

anaerobic exercise pull up

Both training styles are full-body workouts that should be performed to maximum intensity with a workout usually lasting around 30 to 45 minutes.  

Let’s look at the main differences between workouts: 

HIIT Workouts

HIIT exercise (High Intensity Interval Training) is a type of training that involves explosive bursts of intense exercise using maximum effort followed by short periods of rest. 

You can apply it to cardiovascular exercise including running or cycling.  

aerobic running exercise

Or, if you prefer, bodyweight exercises including burpees and box jumps.  

The goal of a HIIT workout is to increase your heart rate which will improve cardiovascular strength, increase your endurance, and burn excess bodyfat. 

HIRT Workouts

HIRT (High Intensity Resistance Training) workouts are similar to HIIT workouts.

The primary difference being that the focus is on building muscular size and strength as opposed to cardiovascular health.  

High-intensity strength training exercises typically involve more traditional weightlifting movements such as the barbell squat.

Barbell deep squats

This form of resistance exercise calls for lifting heavy weights for short periods of time but taking slightly longer rest periods when compared to HIIT workouts.  

A HIRT routine, when performed often, is a great way of building muscle and improving overall strength.

Benefits of High Intensity Strength Training

When applying resistance, high-intensity training is an effective way of building muscle and improving your body composition.  

Below we consider some of the benefits you can enjoy with this type of workout.  

single-arm kettlebell press

Increased Muscular Strength

HIRT involves lifting heavy weights or performing challenging resistance based exercises.  

This helps to stimulate muscle fibers which, over time, will increase muscular strength.  

Improved Muscular Endurance

HIRT workouts typically involve performing exercises with relatively short rest periods in between sets.  

This can help to improve your muscular endurance, allowing your muscles to perform repetitive movements over an extended period. 

Increased muscle endurance can be beneficial in sports, physical activities, and everyday life.

Increase In Muscle Mass

One of the key benefits of strength training is that you will build lean muscle.  

When you apply resistance to your muscles with a weight, this leads to very small tears to your muscle tissue.  

build lean muscle

As your muscles repair, muscle building takes place, so they grow back bigger and stronger.  

This is why it’s important to allow for efficient recovery time.  

Shorter Duration Workouts

HIRT sessions are designed to be more intense and time-efficient when compared to other methods of aerobic exercise.

High intensity training with weights will allow you to engage multiple muscle groups to your lower body and upper body.  

shorter workout duration

In doing so, you can complete your workout routine much quicker. 

This makes HIRT a suitable option if you have a busy schedule and you want to maximize your workout time.

Boosts Your Metabolism

An effective HIRT workout can increase your metabolic rate, both during and after your workout.

The high-intensity nature of HIRT stimulates the production of human growth hormone (HGH).  

This leads to an increased calorie burn, promoting fat loss and improved body composition.

An increase in HGH will also help with muscle recovery which is especially useful after high-intensity weight training.  

Variety And Versatility

There’s a wide variety of high-intensity exercises all of which can be tailored to your fitness level and goals.  

The different exercises can be performed with various equipment such as free weights, resistance bands, or just using your bodyweight.  

versatile hirt workout

This allows for flexibility and adaptability to your workouts.

Improved Bone Density

Resistance training, including HIRT, places stress on your bones.  

This promotes bone density and helps reduce the risk of conditions such as osteoporosis.  

osteoporosis bone structure close up

It also makes you much less prone to certain injuries such as bone fractures.  

This is particularly beneficial for older adults or individuals at risk of age-related bone loss.

Increased Functional Fitness

HIRT exercises often involve compound movements that mimic real-life activities.  

This includes exercises such as squats, deadlifts, or pushing and pulling exercises like the bench press. 

hex trap bar deadlift

By training multiple muscle groups simultaneously, HIRT helps improve overall functional fitness.  

This can help make daily movements and activities easier to undertake and more efficient.

What Equipment Do I Need for High Intensity Strength Training?

When it comes to high intensity strength training, the equipment you use can have an impact on your results. 

Here are some of the most common types of equipment used in this type of training:

Free Weights

Free weights, such as dumbbells, barbells and kettlebells, are a popular choice for high intensity strength training.

kettlebell squats

They allow you to work multiple muscle groups at once and can be used for a range of exercises.

You can also easily adjust the weight to increase the intensity of your workout.

Resistance Bands

Resistance bands are another popular choice for high intensity strength training.  

They are lightweight and portable, making them easy to use anywhere.

resistance band deadlift

They also provide constant tension throughout the entire range of motion, which can help to increase muscle activation.

Bands are especially ideal for home workouts and very cost effective.  

Own Body Weight

Using your own body weight is an effective way to build strength and endurance.  

Exercises such as push-ups, squats, and lunges can be performed anywhere, without the need for any equipment.  

standard push-up exercise

This makes them a great option for those who don’t have access to a gym or prefer to work out at home.

Traditional Weight Machines

Gym machines, such as the leg press machine and cable machines, can also be used for high intensity strength training.  

They can help to isolate specific muscle groups and provide a consistent resistance throughout the entire movement.

seated leg press

Whilst they can allow for an effective workout, most gym machines tend to better for isolation exercises.  

In other words, you’ll activate smaller muscle groups individually as opposed to several muscle groups at once.  

Conclusion

Incorporating high-intensity strength training into your fitness routine can have numerous benefits.

By pushing your muscles to their limits, you can increase your strength and endurance, improve your posture, and boost your metabolism.

During high-intensity strength training, you work out at a high level of intensity for a short period of time, which can be more efficient than traditional strength training.


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This type of exercise can also help you burn more calories due to the increased intensity, which can lead to weight loss and improved overall health.

It is important to note that high-intensity strength training is not for everyone.

If you have any underlying health conditions or pre-existing injuries, it’s a good idea to consult with a personal trainer before starting this type of exercise routine. 

With any new workout you should start with lighter weights and concentrate on proper form.  

This will ensure you activate the correct muscles and don’t injure yourself.  

As your muscles and joints become stronger, you can progress by increasing the weight load.  

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