Has your fitness progress stalled? We have the best tips you need to combine HIIT and weight training to break through your plateau.
If you’re a fitness fanatic, you’ve probably heard of high-intensity interval training, otherwise known as HIIT.
Surging in popularity this year, this fitness trend promotes working out intensely but in shorter, snappy intervals. This means you can burn fat and reap serious gains in half the time it takes to finish your usual workout!
HIIT training usually associates as the ultimate cardio shortcut, but did you know that HIIT and weight training go hand in hand too?
Yup, that’s right. For those that are used to more traditional HIIT, the idea of incorporating deadlifts and squats may seem odd. HIIT usually involves rapid body movements, and lifting is a lot slower in comparison, right?
That’s true, but the idea of combining HIIT and weightlifting isn’t new. It simply went by other names – high-load training or lifting heavy. As essentially, HIIT for lifting involves doing fewer reps with heavier weights for an overall shorter workout.
Ready to get started with this new-found revelation? Hold on, as there’s a right way of combining HIIT and weightlifting and there’s a wrong one. Read on to learn our top tips so you can smash your weightlifting routine in a shorter timeframe.
Table of Contents
1. Increase Speed
It may seem obvious, but the first step to increasing the intensity of your weightlifting practice is to increase the speed of your movements. So just as you’d increase the intensity of a run to make it HIIT-worthy, you’d pretty much do the same to your weightlifting routine.
Pump up that intensity to lift your heart rate and tone those muscles!
2. Lift Heavier Weights
Lifting heavier weights for fewer sets produces faster gains, or at very least the equivalent of.
As you can imagine, gains in muscle strength are the greatest when the weight load is greatest. The intense weight you’re lifting overworks muscles, prompting them to create more cells to prevent such an experience occurring again.
Don’t worry though – this happens because your muscles ‘believe’ you’re failing at something critical, but there isn’t any harm done to them.
You must keep increasing weights to keep forcing muscles into overload. If you don’t your body will grow accustomed to however much weight you’re always lifting and will maintain the same muscle mass.
This process is hypertrophy. The more you push your muscles to perform, the faster and stronger they’ll grow.
3. Use Movement Patterns
Use movement patterns to your high-intensity muscle building workout and put those heavyweights to good use! Working more muscles burns more calories and requires more oxygen, so get those muscles moving.
Focus on compound movements – push-pull is a classic option for example. In this method of movement, pressing muscles rest while pulling muscles work, and vice versa.
Alternating between simple strength pulling movements like bicep curls to an overhead press push, for example, is a great way to get the blood pumping.
4. Shorten Breaks
Shortening rest breaks may at first seem tough, but it helps initiate hypertrophy leading to more muscle growth.
The goal of HIIT is to elevate your heart rate, and quickly. This is done by performing short bursts of high-intensity exercise, followed by a very brief resting period.
This prevents your heart from falling into full-on break mode. So, it’s important to keep these breaks short and sweet to maintain momentum.
Repeat this format throughout your weightlifting workout, and your heart will adjust to new intensities. Yes – it will be difficult at first, but this is a great way to test and improve your endurance, which is one of the whole points of HIIT.
5. Add Cardio Between Sets
If you want to push yourself even further, cut the rests and replace them with cardio sets to mix up your movements.
During these cardio sets, choose any exercise that continues to get your heart racing. Try jumping jacks, mountain climbers, burpees or using a jump rope, for example.
Take your HIIT bodybuilding workout and change it up with a dose of cardio!
6. Don’t over Do It
However, it’s important to learn that you shouldn’t overdo it when it comes to high-intensity interval training. If you need to rest, rest!
And no matter how comfortable you feel with your routine, HIIT-style workouts should be performed sparingly. We suggest roughly once or twice a week, with a maximum of three times a week.
Smashing out a HIIT and weightlifting routine every day in the gym will stress out and tire your body. Over-doing it could potentially put you on the fast track to decreased performance or even help you injure yourself. Which of course, is not the aim of the HIIT game!
This leads us to the importance of recovery. Take the time to help your body recover and calm between HIIT workouts. This means getting enough sleep, eating properly, and stretching before and after training.
If you aim to hit the gym every day, it’s always a good idea to take a day or two off in a week, especially if you’re taking HIIT sessions regularly. Who doesn’t love the excuse to chill out for a day, anyway?
Remember, exercise hard, but exercise smart too!
Combining HIIT and Weight Training
As mentioned, remember that combining HIIT and weight training is hard work, so make sure you ease into and look after your body.
Remember to always use your common sense. As you can imagine, attempting to deadlift over 200 pounds of weights without experience can easily lead to a back injury.
And if you’re still unsure about the practice, think about your fitness goals.
Do you want to lift the most weight possible? If the answer’s yes, then hypertrophy is the way forward and HIIT is a great method to help. Plus, you can easily spend a lot less time at the gym and can at the very least reap the same gains.
Are you aiming for improved endurance? If so, then lifting heavier with HIIT won’t necessarily help. Carrying a lot of muscle drains energy rapidly and although cardio HIIT can increase cardio endurance, lifting HIIT most likely won’t.
Whatever your decision is – happy training!
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