If you’re a high-intensity interval training addict, HIIT workouts with weights should push your comfort zone further. A simple pair of dumbbells can take your exercise to the next level.

Completing short bouts of strenuous exercise makes your workout more efficient. It also provides many health benefits, such as improving fat burning and cardiovascular health. This type of routine has become so popular; it’s now mainstream.

Increasing the resistance further engages your muscles, encouraging muscle gain. Plus, this workout can be easily performed at home as you won’t need heavy-duty equipment.

We’ve included all the information you’ll need to start introducing weights to your HIIT workout, including our best 30-minute routine.

Benefits of HIIT With Weights

If you need extra motivation to introduce irons into your high interval intense training, here are a few perks:

  • Intense calorie burn.
  • Maintain your cardiovascular health.
  • Increase muscle mass.
  • Choose between home and gym.

Intense Calorie Burn

HIIT training with weights doesn’t change the concept of high-intensity workouts. You’ll alternate between a short strenuous exercise and a brief resting time. The main difference is that you’re adding weights to the equation.

This intense workout is more effective at reducing subcutaneous and abdominal body fat than other types of exercise. It is, therefore, ideal for weight loss or if you want better muscle definition.

Maintain Your Cardiovascular Health

Your oxygen consumption also becomes more efficient. It helps you maintain a healthy and strong heart. With supervision, workout HIIT exercises are even suitable for cardiac rehabilitation.

Increase Muscle Mass

A regular HIIT workout certainly improves your physical strength and will help to maintain and slightly increase muscle gain. Indeed, intermittent training has been shown to influence muscle size in overweight and obese individuals. By breaking down muscle fibers, it encourages it to grow.

Overall, HIIT is a fantastic exercise to stay in shape and feel stronger. Yet, it all depends on where you start.

If you’re athletic and have been exercising for a while, you’ll need more gravity to notice a difference; this is where weights come in. Lifting iron requires more power, leading to enhanced muscle gain.

Choose Between Home and Gym

Many think that training that involves lifting belongs to a professional gym. Workouts HIIT with weights, however, can be easily done from home. This type of routine doesn’t require fancy equipment—such as a bench press—and a set of dumbbells suffices.

Bring your fitness to the next level
HIIT Workout With Weights 3

Why Am I Gaining Weight Doing HIIT?

For those concerned about these digits showing on the scale, there are a few reasons they might be going up:

  • You’re gaining muscle.
  • Hidden calories.
  • Overtraining.

You’re Gaining Muscle

You probably already know that muscles are denser than fat. If you bulk up faster than you lose fat, you may first observe a slight weight increase. Be patient and persistent, and the trend will soon reverse.

If the digits are driving you crazy, consider your body fat percentage rather than your body weight. Although it’s slower to move, it should go in the right direction, even if you’re gaining muscle mass.

Hidden Calories

It’s easy to consume more calories than we think. Remember that you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. If your calorie intake is higher than your energy expenditure, you’ll gain weight.

If you have a hard time keeping track of consumed calories, write a journal. You should soon find out where they’ve been hiding!

Overtraining

Lastly, you may have heard that all good things come in moderation. The same applies to HIIT workouts with weights.

Overtraining exhausts the body and the mind, encouraging the body to produce more cortisol. This hormone has been linked to weight gain, especially around the belly.

If you’ve been training daily, it’s essential to take a break. Resting days should be part of your weekly workout routine and are critical for the body to restore itself.

Make sure you also get enough sleep—7 to 9 hours for adults. You’ll have more energy. Reduced fatigue also means that you’ll be less likely to binge-eat or reach for these unhealthy snacks.

Best HIIT With Weights Workouts

If you’re wondering how this type of workout looks and feels, the best thing to do is give it a try.

What You Need

To ensure you can complete this routine, whether at home or the gym, we’ve chosen workouts that only require one piece of equipment: a set of dumbbells. You won’t even need an exercise mat.

Reminders and Tips

Before getting started, here are important aspects to keep in mind:

  • Warm-up.
  • Drop your weights when needed.
  • Start slow.
  • Count time, not sets.
  • Rest, but don’t sit.

Warm-Up

Make sure to warm-up your muscles and joints beforehand. Your heart rate should also slowly increase by the end of this preparation.

This step isn’t the most exciting, but it’s critical to avoid injuries. Plus, it only takes about 5 minutes. Here are some useful movements:

  • Arm swings.
  • Knees-up with torso rotation.
  • Skipping rope.
  • Bodyweight squats.
  • Moving the head side to side.
  • In a tabletop position, alternate between curving and bending your back.

If you need a few more ideas:

Drop Your Weights When Needed

Remember that when it gets too intense, you can always drop the dumbbells and continue with your body weight. As you HIIT train and become familiar with the routine, your iron should slowly feel lighter.

Start Slow, Then Push Yourself

If you’re introducing weights to your HIIT workout, start gradually and with your lightest set of dumbbells. Exercises are typically about 30 minutes long, but as you finish, you’ll realize that it’s more than enough to feel the burn.

If you’ve now completed this routine a few times, push yourself at 80 or 90 percent of your maximum effort. Once you’ve mastered the form, increase your speed to complete more sets within the 30-second active periods.

Count Time, Not Sets

As we mentioned earlier, a dumbbell HIIT workout includes active and resting periods. For instance, you’ll exercise for 30 seconds, then rest for the same amount of time.

During your 30 active seconds, complete the workout as many times as you can. When time is up, it’s time to rest, regardless of the number of sets you’ve done. Don’t be tempted to rush; the form always prevails over speed.

Rest, But Don’t Sit

While you’re resting, catch your breath, drink water, take a walk—but don’t sit!

While some trainers recommend sitting or even lying down between sets, we find that you’re more likely to over rest and exceed your allocated time. Besides, it’s also harder to get up and pick up where you left off.

Full Body HIIT Workout With Weights

We’ve put together our best workout routine. It engages both your upper and lower body for a full-body workout.

Workout Details

Total Length: 28 minutes.

Number of Exercises: 7.

Active Period Per Exercise: 30 seconds.

Rest Period: 30 seconds.

Number of Sets Per Exercise: 4.

Concretely, this is what the routine looks like:

  • 30 seconds—Exercise 1.
  • 30 seconds—Rest.
  • Repeat both the exercise and resting periods three more times.
  • Move on to Exercise 2.

Exercise 1: Clean and Press

You’ve likely done clean and press sets with a barbell. Dumbbell HIIT technique remains the same. Bring your weights over your shoulders and press to extend your arms over your head.

This exercise engages your hips and quads, as well as your trapezius, deltoids, and other back muscles. Way to get started!

Exercise 2: Deadlift

For this exercise, challenge yourself and grab heavier weights. You can always downgrade if it feels uncomfortable.

Make sure to keep your back straight and flat and your knees only slightly bent. Your legs should stand hip width apart. Contract the glutes and hamstrings as you move back up.

If your lower or upper back starts to bend, switch to lighter weights.

Exercise 3: Renegade Rows

This workout should challenge your core muscles, but also your stability and balance.

  • Start in a plank position: Set yourself in a plank position with your hands over the dumbbells.
  • Push-up: Proceed with one regular push-up.
  • Right row: As you come up, pull your right dumbbell up towards your armpit then place it back in its original position. Make sure your hips don’t rotate.
  • Left row: Repeat with the other arm.

During this exercise, the wider you position your feet, the easier the row is.

Plus, if you’re exercising on tile or hardwood, use an exercise mat or carpet under your dumbbells. This should help you stay stable and prevent the weight from rolling.

Exercise 4: Overhead Squats

These regular squats are done with your dumbbells over your head, your arms slightly bent. You’ll be challenging your hips, legs, and core muscles all at the same time. Plus, you should also feel the burn in your back and shoulders.

Try to go as low as you can while keeping your body straight. Your upper body shouldn’t collapse forward. Keep your dumbbells above your head at all times.

Exercise 5: Lunge-Biceps Curl

Your muscles should feel exhausted at this point—keep going, you’re more than halfway through.

  • Right lunge: Make a lunge starting with your right leg.
  • Bicep curl: As you’re bringing your body close to the ground, do a bicep curl, both arms together.
  • Left lunge: Repeat with the opposite leg.

For the optimum burn, ensure your lunges are deep. When advancing your right leg, your left knee should touch the ground. If you start feeling pain around your knees, try taking a larger step forward.

Exercise 6: Arnold Press

If you’ve never heard of this workout, it’s indeed one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s lifts. But you’ve likely already made this move, without necessarily knowing its technical name.

This workout should bring your upper body to its breaking point. The twisting motion engages many muscles at once, such as your deltoids, core, and back.

  • Starting position: Hold your dumbbells at shoulder height, with your palms and elbows facing you.
  • Open your arms: As you bring your elbows towards the sides, your palms are now facing forward.
  • Extend your arms: Push the dumbbells overhead.
  • Resume: Reverse to the initial position.

If this is too intense, alternate between the right and left side.

Exercise 7: Goblet Squats

You’re close to the finish line, give every bit of energy you have left. This is your last bout!

For this workout, you’ll hold one dumbbell in a vertical position, usually grabbing it by one extremity. Because you’re only using one weight, don’t hesitate to go heavier. If you’re at the gym, you could even use a kettlebell for this set.

Try to hold it above your chest during the entire movement. This ensures you engage your shoulder muscles fully.

Looking up should also help you keep your back in a straight position. Make as many squats as you can during the last 30 seconds of this HIIT workout with weights.

Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve also answered common questions we receive related to HIIT workouts with weights.

Can I Do HIIT With Weights?

Although most people think of a HIIT workout as a simple cardio exercise, it can be combined with many other types of workouts, including weightlifting or even Tabata. You won’t have to choose between one of them.

If you’re slowly introducing weights to your HIIT routine, you’ll only need two dumbbells to get started.

Can You Do HIIT and Weights on the Same Day?

HIIT and weight workouts can certainly be completed within the same day. In your gym, you may observe individuals starting with 20 to 30 minutes of cardio before beginning lifting. In doing so, many of them exercise for two hours a day or more.

HIIT workouts with weights, however, combine cardio and strength, making your training more efficient. Plus, the added resistance increases metabolism and fat burning.

Can HIIT Build Muscle?

HIIT engages muscles and can, therefore, help in their development and maintenance. However, adding weights to your workouts can make a significant difference in terms of increased muscle mass. The more resistance you add, and the more muscle you’ll build.

How Often Should I Do HIIT With Weights?

As adults, we should spend 75 to 150 minutes per week doing vigorous aerobic activity. It’s also recommended to do strength training two days or more per week. This means that you can safely do HIIT with weights at least bi-weekly.

Yet, everyone comes with a unique constitution and abilities. If the gym is your second home, you may be able to do HIIT with weights up to four times per week.

Remember, however, that allowing your muscles to rest is critical to maintaining performance. Avoid training the same muscle group consecutively, two days in a row. For instance, alternate between the upper and lower body.

Cooling Down

Intermittent training is now a popular and mainstream way to workout. The periods of rest between intense sets can simply take your fitness to the next level.

HIIT workouts with weights, however, increase gravity and resistance. As your routine becomes more intense, you’ll burn more calories and in a shorter duration. If your free time is scarce, this type of exercise is ideal.

If this is your first attempt, start by completing the full-body routine with light dumbbells. Slowly increase the weight until you reach almost 80 to 90 percent of your abilities.

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Johnny Gallagher

Johnny Gallagher is a certified personal trainer and nutritionist.