HIRT Brings the Hurt

High Intensity Resistance Training, also known as HIRT, is a different kind of strength training, and it’s making waves.  Bodybuilders are finding that adding one or two days of HIRT in place of their usual split is resulting in a leaner look and lower body fat.

Whether you’re cutting or bulking, you can use HIRT to elevate your basal metabolic rate (BMR), keep muscle while you’re cutting, minimize fat gain during bulking, and gain muscular endurance.

The Basics

HIRT is sometimes called interval training, but that’s easily confused with High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), which we’ll discuss soon. Other times it’s called circuit training. In CrossFit, it’s often called tabata, but that’s just one kind of HIRT.  HIRT is the most easily distinguished and what we’ll use for our purposes.

In HIRT, you’ll perform sets of 5 to 15 reps. You’ll do super sets and giant sets, and you’ll push through the burn. Finally, you’ll focus on the largest muscle groups, knowing that the smaller groups will get worked in the process.

There are two rules to HIRT:  push each set to the maximum; and keep your intensity as high as possible throughout the entire workout.

Pushing each set means that you do every set of every exercise until you finish it or collapse. No joke. It’s going to hurt; that’s the point. Anyone who is serious about bodybuilding knows that the sport hurts, and it’s not for wimps or whiners. The focus of this workout just emphasizes the truth about serious lifting.

And, you’ve got to work as hard as possible during the entire workout. Do the whole workout. Don’t skip anything. That’s the only way to keep your muscular strength while shedding fat.

How HIRT Works


  • Being designed to push you to your max, HIRT workouts will push you both to failure and to 90-100% of your max heart rate, so be sure you are both committed to the routine and healthy enough to complete it before implementing HIRT into your workout.

“They” Said

  • What is HIRT?
  • High Intensity Resistance Training
  • Effects of High Intensity Training

The exercises that comprise a complete HIRT workout succeed in doing two things. First, they raise the BMR. Increasing your BMR is the only way to increase your daily caloric burn in the long term. It makes perfect sense, because a body with more muscle will have a higher basal metabolic rate.

Second, it keeps your Excess Post-Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) high. The higher we can push the EPOC after a workout, the more burn we’ll achieve during a workout and shortly thereafter.

It’s important to note that HIRT is designed to shed fat and retain muscle. You’re not going to gain strength during your HIRT workouts, and you need to adjust your methods accordingly.

If you’re looking to maintain, you could do just HIRT two days per week, HIIT two days per week and one longer cardio session. You won’t need to do any full body resistance training (RT) like a traditional builder would do, and you’ll have two rest days.

If your priority is to keep your gains and drop fat, you’ll do two days of full body RT, one day of HIRT, one day of HIIT and three days of rest.

Finally, if your goal is to gain muscle, you’ll want to do three days of full body RT, two days of HIRT, one day of low and slow cardio and one day off.

There are two ways you can approach a HIRT routine. If you’re new to lifting, you’ll want use one of the routines I’ve got here. There are different ways to focus the exercise, but I prefer either body weight exercises or Olympic lifting exercises.

If you’re an experienced lifter and are accustomed to creating your own routines, just be sure you hit the anterior and posterior leg chains, vertical and horizontal pushes and pulls and, of course, the core.

Body Weight Routine

You all know how much I love body weight exercises, so adding HIRT with body weight just gets me all excited. This routine is perfect for those who are less experienced in the weight room, as well as those who don’t belong to a gym. You need just a couple of things to get a killer workout.

You’ll do each set for 10 minutes, giving it all you’ve got. I personally think this workout is more taxing than the Olympic lifting workout that follows, because it’s got you on the floor and back up again every minute or so. It’s pretty killer.

After you finish the group, take a three-minute break.  It’s a good time to puke if you need to, because I’m pretty sure you’re going to want to when you’re finished. The entire workout should take 40 minutes, plus a warm-up and stretching after, for a total of 45-50 minutes. This workout is modified from ProjectSwole.com.

Group A:

  1. 5 push ups
  2. 5 inverted rows
  3. 5 jump squats
  4. 10 V-sit crunches

Group B:

  1. 5 chin ups
  2. 5 pistol squats
  3. 5 Russian twists, with a medicine ball if you have one
  4. 5 push ups on a medicine ball if you have one, or on the floor if you do not

Group C:

  1. 10 skipping lunges
  2. 30-second plank hold
  3. 5 dumbbell swings or medicine ball swings with each arm, or 5 scapular push-ups
  4. Plank row (with or without dumbbells)

Olympic Lifting Routine

Do each set for 10 minutes, going from one exercise to another without resting. After each super-set, take a 3 to 4 minute break.  The entire workout should take 40 minutes, plus a warm-up and stretching after, for a total of 45-50 minutes.

The bar should be weighted based on what you can manage for the exercise where your performance is weakest. On average, you should go with 15 to 20 percent of your one-rep max, but you’ll probably want to start even lighter with this one. This workout is modified slightly from ProjectSwole.com.

Group A:

  1. Power Clean
  2. Push Press
  3. Upper portion of Romanian deadlift (hips to knees only)
  4. Five reps of bent over barbell rows (one bar or two dumbbells)
  5. Lower portion of Romanian deadlift (knees to floor only)
  6. Touch the bar to the floor and repeat.

Group B:

  1. Deadlift
  2. Hang Clean
  3. Push Press
  4. Back Squat
  5. Push Press
  6. Touch the bar to the floor and repeat.

Group C:

  1. Deadlift
  2. Hang Clean
  3. Push Press
  4. Overhead Squat
  5. Barbell Abdominal Roll Out

Final Notes

Besides being incredibly taxing to the system, you need impeccable form to do these exercises well. If you make even a tiny mistake, you will injure yourself. At the beginning of a workout you may have the strength you need, but by the end you’ll struggle.

There’s nothing wrong with struggling to keep great form, that’s part of the balance needed for successful bodybuilding. It’s best to work with a partner who can motivate you and correct your form when necessary.

It might be a good idea to get a trainer to watch you execute these exercises if you don’t have a regular lifting partner. At the very least, use the mirrors religiously.

Add HIRT to your workout regime and watch more lean muscle pop out in just a few weeks. Whether you’re adding bulk or leaning out, HIRT will bring the hurt!

Dr. Steroids

Introducing our esteemed author at SteroidsLive, Johnathan Reed, a seasoned fitness enthusiast with a passion for empowering others on their journey to optimal health and performance. With years of experience in the fitness industry and a background in sports science, Johnathan brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to his writing. Dedicated to providing accurate, evidence-based information, he strives to educate and inspire readers to achieve their fitness goals safely and effectively. Through his engaging and informative articles, Johnathan aims to make a positive impact on the lives of individuals seeking to transform their bodies and improve their overall well-being. Join him on the path to success at SteroidsLive, where fitness meets knowledge.