High-Intensity Interval Training (a.k.a. HIIT) is a fun and effective way to get in a quick workout by incorporating resistance training mixed in with cardiovascular bursts. The benefits are plentiful, including increased caloric burn, reduced body fat, lower blood pressure, and lower resting heart rate. For some, it can even help to improve blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity. This is not a style of training in which you would expect to max out on barbell deadlifts or set any records on your mile time, but it certainly can help you improve both in the long run. However, what you can expect is to maximize your time in the gym for overall health and fitness and rapid-fire results.
You can arguably get a killer workout in with just your body weight, but incorporating resistance equipment into your HIIT session will increase the benefits (and the fun!) of your workout. When you add any sort of weight training to your routine, the result is an increase in your metabolic rate for hours after your workout is complete. This means you’re burning more than just the calories shown on your Apple Watch, as your body is breaking down and rebuilding long after you’ve stopped exercising. This requires energy! If you continue to train like this regularly, you will see an overall increase in your basal metabolic rate (BMR), which means your body will naturally burn more calories, even in a resting state.
The Following Is a List of Some of My Favorite Ways to Add Resistance to Your Hiit Workouts:
They are stable and comfortable to use, easily accessible, and it’s simple to control the weight for your individual needs. You could do unilateral (one side) or bilateral (both sides) exercises to increase variety and continue to challenge your body. Adding dumbbells to a bodyweight exercise, such as a squat, will increase your caloric expenditure, help you to lose fat while maintaining muscle mass, build strength over time, and make your workouts more productive in less time. Furthermore, once the same movements begin to feel easier, all you have to do is increase the weight you’re lifting for continued results.
These awesome pieces of resistance equipment are known for their effectiveness in increasing core strength and stability. They are also great for building full-body strength, increasing lean muscle mass while burning fat, building grip strength, and developing explosive power in the hips. In addition, if you’re looking for a low-impact cardio option to keep your joints safe, kettlebells are the way to go.
3. Medicine Balls
My favorite part of using medicine balls is the ability to enhance social skills and teamwork in your training sessions. Partner workouts with medicine balls are challenging but also so much fun, and if you enjoy exercising, you are much more likely to stick with it. Medicine balls are also great for building explosive power and strength, enhancing speed and agility, and improving your overall core and full-body strength. They turn any bodyweight exercise, such as a lunge, into more of a core-focused and fat-burning movement.
4. Battle Ropes
These bad boys are the powerhouse of HIIT training. Your heart rate will skyrocket when you incorporate battle rope movements into your sessions. The weight of the ropes and the general instability they create will fire up your muscles and spike your heart rate very quickly. Also, the more power you put into them, the more challenging they will continue to be. There are many varieties of exercises to perform with battle ropes, some focusing more on certain muscle groups and/or core, but the one consistency is that they will all get you sweaty and breathless. Battle ropes are a great tool to get in remarkable shape in very little time. They’re also a blast to play with!
If you have access to sleds, consider yourself lucky. I personally believe these are some of the best tools for overall conditioning. It takes your body a lot of effort to push and pull these monsters. They are also low-impact (though there are some exercises you can perform with them that add high-impact if you’re looking for the challenge), so if you’re returning to physical activity after an injury, they are a great option. Many high-level athletes utilize sleds, but they are safe for beginners as well. The weight load, addition of handles, body position, or pace can all be modified to help you continue to push your limits.
6. Resistance Bands
Similar to dumbbells, resistance bands increase the workload of your training for better results in less time. It is simple to adjust them to create more or less resistance as needed, so you can customize the resistance levels to meet your individual needs. They’re also easier than dumbbells to transport, so you can travel with them and never miss a workout when you’re on the go.
7. Loop Bands
If you want to take a basic cardio exercise, such as jumping jacks, and add a little fire, loop bands are the way to go. Add these to your bursts of cardio to make any exercise a little spicier! Additionally, you can use them to replace a high-impact exercise, such as broad jumps, with a low-impact exercise, such as monster walks. They are also particularly versatile, as you can use them to work your glutes and adductors harder, as well as your shoulders, chest, arms, and really any muscle group you please. Just like resistance bands, they are easy to throw in a bag and take with you when traveling.
Similar to sleds, this is a piece of equipment that will be tougher to access. However, if barbells are available to you, add them to your routine pronto! They can be used to add a spark to fundamental movements, such as lunges, squats, deadlifts, shoulder presses, and biceps curls as well as more advanced compound power movements, such as cleans, thrusters, and snatches. Adding these movements into your HIIT workouts will throw your body for a curve ball, increasing results by avoiding plateaus.
9. Suspension bands
Incorporating these into your training will create a lot of variety in your exercise library. Almost every exercise you perform with suspension bands assists in improving your mobility, balance, and stability. All this is in addition to the caloric burn and muscle growth that comes along with using them. Your fitness program is never complete without incorporating functional strength, and suspension bands are perfect for working on this missing element.
The possibilities for adding variety to your HIIT workouts are endless when you start incorporating equipment. Although I focused on resistance-based equipment, another great way to add a challenge and continue to progress your training, is by adding in benches, steps, mats, BOSU balls, stability balls, ab rollers, cones, ladders, hurdles, and rigs. You can also try adding cardio equipment, including rowers, versa-climbers, treadmills, bikes, and ski ergs. Never underestimate the power of any equipment you have access to, as it might be just the tool you need to kick your body into high gear.