Whether you are scanning the group exercise classes at your local gym or perusing the offerings from live or on-demand workout classes on Peloton Digital, BODI, or your favorite fitness platform, there’s a good chance you will come across high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts.
Beginners might start with a bodyweight HIIT strength training workout, but experienced athletes can actually do a HIIT workout with weights.
In this article, we will discuss how to do a HIIT workout with weights and then share a challenging HIIT workout with weights you can try on your own.
We will cover:
- What Is A HIIT Workout With Weights?
- How to Do A HIIT Workout With Weights
- The Ultimate HIIT Workout With Weights
Let’s dive in!
What Is A HIIT Workout With Weights?
HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training. HIIT workouts involve alternating between bursts of vigorous, high-intensity exercise and easy recovery periods.
Due to the high-intensity nature of HIIT workouts, studies have found that HIIT workouts can provide the same health and fitness benefits as moderate-intensity steady-state training in about 40% less time, if not more, making HIIT an extremely efficient type of exercise.
HIIT workouts with weights involve performing strength training exercises during the “on” or hard intervals using dumbbells, kettlebells, medicine balls, or other forms of resistance.
For example, you might perform kettlebell swings, kettlebell Turkish get-ups, kettlebell goblet squats, kettlebell step-ups, and kettlebell farmer’s carries in a HIIT workout with weights.In this way, a HIIT workout with weights combines cardio and strength training workouts into one, serving as the ultimate in workout efficiency.
How to Do A HIIT Workout With Weights
Here are some tips for creating your own HIIT workouts with weights:
#1: Choose Your Exercises Wisely
If you are interested in doing HIIT workouts on your own, pick a type of exercise you can perform at a high intensity with good form.
Doing a HIIT workout with weights can be a fantastic workout, but if you’re not prepared for the rigors of the workout, it can be risky.
Although exercising at a vigorous intensity during the “on“ intervals is important, proper form and technique always trump intensity.
Therefore, particularly when doing strength training HIIT exercises with weights, do not include exercises in your HIIT workout that you are still trying to master from a technical standpoint because if you are trying to go for speed and power during the exercise, your form might break down, which can increase the risk of injury.
#2: Pick Your Exercise Order Strategically
When you are doing HIIT workouts with weights, it’s a good idea to sequence exercises back to back that use the same equipment.
For example, if you want to do a HIIT workout with kettlebells and medicine balls, perform exercises like kettlebell sumo squats, kettlebell swings, and kettlebell single-leg Romanian deadlifts back to back before you move on to medicine ball slams, medicine ball chops, and medicine ball V-ups.
Similarly, if you’re doing a HIIT dumbbell workout with adjustable dumbbells, sequence exercises in a row that use the same weight, so you don’t have to feel pressured to be racing to adjust the weights between every single exercise to higher and lower the weight.
Sequencing the exercises that utilize the same equipment together will allow you to move from one to the next more efficiently, keeping your heart rate elevated throughout the duration of the HIIT workout.
#3: Use Your Muscles
It may sound obvious, but when using weights in a HIIT workout, resist the urge to wildly swing the weights or rely on momentum and gravity to do the work of lifting and lowering for you.
Not only will swinging the weights around increase the risk of injury, but it also reduces the effectiveness of the exercise because gravity and momentum are assisting you in the work of lifting the weight.
#4: Pick Your Interval Lengths
You will also need to choose how long to make each hard burst and recovery period. For example, your work and rest intervals might each be 30 seconds.
Start with an easy warm-up for a few minutes. Then, alternate between pushing as hard as you can for the 30 seconds and then recovering for the next 30 seconds, over and over, until your desired total workout time has elapsed.
You might want to start with 10-15 minutes and then gradually build up to 20-30 minutes, depending on your fitness level, goals, and time constraints.
#5: Vary Your Interval Lengths
As you get fitter, you can increase the length of the hard efforts relative to the rest intervals, shifting from a 1:2 or 1:1 ratio to a 2:1 ratio or more.
For example, a beginner might do a HIIT workout with 30 seconds hard, 60 seconds easy, then progress to 45 seconds hard, 45 seconds easy, and then finally to 60 seconds hard, 30 seconds easy.
However, be cautious with scaling up the length of the hard intervals too quickly.
You need to keep the hard intervals short enough that you can work at maximal effort to fully reap the benefits of HIIT.
You should be working at 85-95% of your max heart rate during your “on” efforts, so a good rule of thumb is to cap your vigorous intervals at 45 seconds unless you’re super advanced.
#6: Wear a Heart Rate Monitor
A heart rate monitor can help you gauge your intensity level.
If your heart rate isn’t getting high enough, you might need to either increase your weights or try to shift to more compound exercises that involve multiple major muscle groups.
Examples of good compound strength training exercises for HIIT workouts with weights include squats, step-ups, deadlifts, lunges and split squats, and military presses.
The Ultimate HIIT Workout With Weights
The following is a challenging HIIT workout with weights we’ve created for advanced athletes who are experienced with the exercises in the workout.
If you are at an intermediate-experience level, you can always substitute, modify, or skip any of the exercises in the workout for ones that you are more competent with.
If you are a beginner, you can try the workout, but just be sure to use very light weights to reduce the risk of injury.
No matter what your fitness and experience levels are, make sure that you are using the proper form and technique at all times.
This is an AMRAP HIIT workout with weights, meaning that you will go for time and complete as many reps as possible during the intervals.
Each hard interval should be 45 seconds, and each recovery is 30 seconds (less fit individuals might want to bump up the recovery to 45 seconds as well.
- 60 seconds of jumping jacks
- 60 seconds of high knees running in place
- 60 seconds of mountain climbers
Dumbbell HIIT Workout
Complete 2 rounds of the following exercises, taking 30 seconds of recovery between exercises.
During the recovery, pace around and/or get set up for the next exercise.
- 45 seconds of goblet squats holding a dumbbell.
- 45 seconds of dumbbell step-ups, alternating the leg you used to step up onto the box first.
- 45 seconds of reverse lunges with an overhead press in the right hand. Press the dumbbell overhead on the side of the leg that is in front (not the one stepping back), so your left leg should be stepping back.
- 45 seconds of reverse lunges with an overhead press in the left hand.
- 45 seconds of dumbbell chest press.
- 45 seconds of bent-over dumbbell rows on the right side.
- 45 seconds of bent-over dumbbell rows on the right side.
- 45 seconds of right lateral lunges (stepping the right leg to the right) with a biceps curl on the left.
- 45 seconds of left lateral lunges with a right arm biceps curl.
- 45 seconds of right single-leg Romanian deadlifts with a dumbbell.
- 45 seconds of left single-leg Romanian deadlifts with a dumbbell.
- 45 seconds of bent-over dumbbell reverse flies.
- 45 seconds of dumbbell Russian twist.
- 45 seconds of dumbbell V-ups.
You can also start with 30 seconds per exercise until you are fit enough to do 45 seconds.
- 60 seconds marching in place.
As you get fitter, increase the weights you are using. Have fun!
For a list of more compound exercises, you can use in your HIIT workouts with weights, check out our complete list of compound exercises.