The vast majority of people interested in the field of fitness have probably heard about high-intensity interval training or HIIT. 

HIIT offers a myriad of health benefits, boosts athletic performance, and causes substantial weight loss. However, most people have never heard of high-intensity resistance training (HIRT). 

During the HIRT workout, you will perform a set of brief, intense, highly-targeted exercises with a short break. Each set of exercises fits perfectly in a series of circuits that usually target the entire body (full-body workout).

In this article, we will compare HIIT with HIRT, as well as the potential benefits of the latter.



While HIIT provides many health benefits, many people consider it quite challenging for those who live a sedentary lifestyle.

Additionally, the American Council on Exercise emphasizes the significant stress placed on the body during HIIT workouts. In fact, this is why you should limit HIIT to 3 nonconsecutive sessions per week.

In general, a HIIT workout focuses on engaging in a 30-second exercise routine followed by 30 seconds of recovery.

Most fitness gurus consider HIIT more beneficial than steady-state training, which is also time-inefficient.

Unfortunately, HIIT is very demanding and places too much stress on the joints, predisposing you to musculoskeletal injuries.

Common adverse effects of HIIT include dizziness, dyspnea (i.e., shortness of breath), and heart palpitations.

In a 2015 review paper, researchers stated that HIIT may not be the best choice for patients with comorbidities (e.g., diabetes, heart disease) since it places too much strain on their cardiovascular systems.

Note that HIIT is relatively safe for young individuals without concurrent medical conditions.

The other type that you could use to lose substantial weight is high-intensity resistance training, which targets different metabolic processes than HIIT.

For instance, HIRT is more focused on burning fat, promoting muscle hypertrophy, and supercharging your fitness routine, whereas HIIT targets fat burning and endurance.

Both types of workouts can be used in synchrony to reach optimal results, especially for advanced athletes.

The benefits of the HIRT workout

HIRT is a great workout for people who hate doing cardiovascular training, as it allows you to burn fat without having to sacrifice your lean muscle mass.

However, before embarking on this challenging workout, make sure to consult your primary care physician since people respond differently to high-intensity training.

Here are the most prominent benefits of high-intensity resistance training:

  1. Boosts basal metabolic rate

The basal metabolic rate, or BMR, is a numerical parameter used by fitness gurus and nutritionists to estimate the number of calories needed by your body during rest.

This number is subject to a variety of factors, including age, gender, body type, weight, height, diet, degree of physical activity, and genetics.

BMR is vital for determining how many calories your body burns per day, and subsequently, how many calories you can consume without gaining weight.

In other words, the faster your BMR is, the more calories you can burn at rest.

Unfortunately, the body usually responds to high-intensity training by slowing down BMR since your primal brain interprets the situation as highly stressful (similar to running away from a bear).

The good news is that HIRT produces the opposite effect by boosting BMR, which allows you to burn more calories at rest, or the very least, consume more food without gaining weight.

  1. Increases VO2 max

While VO2 max gets often linked to cardiovascular training, HIRT can also increase this parameter. As a result, you will significantly improve your endurance, athletic performance, and the efficiency of utilizing oxygen during training.

According to a 2013 study, HIRT can upregulate VO2 Max and endurance without any cardiovascular training.

  1. Promotes muscle hypertrophy

Obviously, the most important benefit of performing HIRT workouts is to maintain and increase lean muscle mass.

You see, most training routines that target lipolysis (i.e., fat burning) will inadvertently cause muscle atrophy (i.e., loss of muscle mass).

Fortunately, HIRT is the exception to this rule as it reaps the benefits of a full-body cardio workout as well as strength training.

  1. Improves mental health

Researchers and scientists published hundreds of papers that emphasize the importance of physical activity in reducing the incidence and severity of mental disorders.

For instance, mental health experts repeatedly confirmed the positive effects of regular exercise (e.g., HIRT) on depression, which is the most common psychiatric disorder in the world. 

This effect results from promoting the release of endogenous neurotransmitters that typically get suppressed in depression (e.g., serotonin).

Additionally, high-intensity workouts stimulate the release of other hormones known as endorphins. These chemicals are commonly associated with the “runner’s high”. 

Endorphins also exert potent anxiolytic (i.e., anxiety-reducing) and analgesic (i.e., pain-relieving) properties, further supercharging your fitness.

Finally, the secretion of other neurotransmitters (e.g., dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine) will stabilize your mood and optimize your mental health.

The effects of these neurotransmitters extend beyond mood improvement since they also participate in:

  • Boosting your energy levels
  • Improving your appetite
  • Regulating your sleep cycle
  1. It is flexible and entertaining

Despite how sophisticated and difficult HIRT may sound, it is very enjoyable and entertaining for professional athletes and regular people.

The combination and complexity of the movements make every session unique, escaping the usual label of a ‘boring workout’.

Additionally, you can perform this workout from the comfort of your home, using simple tools (e.g., dumbbells, kettlebell).

  1. It is time-efficient

Many people complain about not having sufficient time to work out regularly or increase their lean muscle mass.

For this group of people, a HIRT workout would be just the solution they’ve been looking for. This is because cutting out the long recovery durations between exercises and sets shrinks the time commitment to 12-25 minutes per session. 

Contrast this with the 45-90 minutes required for conventional strength training, and you’ll see that HIRT is extremely time-efficient.

Takeaway message

HIRT is a great way to boost your athletic performance and supercharge your fitness routine. 

Hopefully, this article managed to shed some light on this neglected way of training, but if you still have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts in the comment section below.