During the pandemic, many are looking towards their trainers for leadership. Is it possible to enjoy a workout as challenging as we once had in the gym? A HIIT workout with weights in the gym is ideal, but not everyone always has that luxury.
During these crazy times, I can’t be the only one who has had their workouts majorly disrupted. Usually, I can fit in a solid workout with a variety of heavy weights and equipment at the gym. However, the only equipment I currently have at home are two 10lbs dumbells and a resistance band.
Believe it or not, my workouts are rivaling the ones I once had in the gym before they closed. Here I will share with you my strategies of how to build a challenging HIIT workout with weights. If you’re ready to get sweaty and shredded with tried, tested, and proven techniques, let’s go!
HIIT Workouts With Weights
HIIT workouts are doing the rounds on social media because they are the best way to keep fit from home. They burn a considerable amount of calories in a short time, and they have an afterburn effect too. Within minutes you can create a simple HIIT workout anywhere with the right advice.
Anything that you can do without weights, you can do with weights. Did you know you can do a weighted burpee? Start thinking more creatively about your workout regime. Instead of a seated row at the gym, you can do a push-up row. Replace heavy hip thrusts with a one-legged glute bridge. Have you ever tried a pistol squat? I guarantee they’re harder than a 200lbs squat.
Start looking at your home HIIT workouts by asking yourself these questions:
- Can I turn a movement into a unilateral one (one-armed or legged)?
- How can I take away some stability to make it more challenging at home?
- Will turning two movements into one make this exercise harder?
- Which movements was I unable to lift heavy at the gym anyway?
The structure of a HIIT workout must be strategic. If you don’t have a trainer to guide you, here is a foolproof HIIT structure.
- Lower Body Day = 2 x lower body exercises + 1 core exercise + 1 cardio exercise
- Upper Body Day = 2 x upper body exercises + 1 core exercise + 1 cardio exercise
- Cardio Day = 2 x cardio exercises + 2 core exercises
Lower Body Exercises
These exercises are focused on your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and hip flexors. They will help you lose thigh and hip fat. There are many other exercises that you can add in instead of these, but the ones mentioned are the best for HIIT workouts with weights.
- Glute bridges
- One-legged deadlifts
- Side lunges
- Crab Walks
Upper Body Exercises
The upper body exercises will be working your pectoralis group, latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, trapezius, deltoids, triceps, and biceps. Or in gym terms, chest and tri’s, and back and bi’s. Again, add in any bodyweight movements that you find useful, otherwise, stick to these weighted exercises.
- Renegade row
- Weighted dips
- Shoulder Press
- Push Press
- Bicep Curls
- Overhead extension
- Anterior and lateral delts
Almost every cardiovascular exercise is elevated with weights. Here are our favorites.
- High knees
- Mountain climbers + Rows
Although we often think of our core as ab-burning exercises, technically, it’s any movement attached to our spine. So you’ll have already worked quite a bit of your core in the upper body section. Here are some anterior (the front of your body) movements.
- Weighted jackknives
- Russian twists
- Opposite leg to hand crunch
- The classic sit up (with weights)
- Leg raises
Most HIIT workouts are under 30 minutes, which is why they are so popular. The best way to get used to their intensity is by starting with 12-minute workouts and increasing by 4-minute intervals each week.
AMRAP is “as many reps (or rounds) as possible.” In a HIIT workout scenario, it’s completing a sequenced set of exercises as many times as you can within a specific time-frame. You don’t need any fancy timers for this. Just a stopwatch and your game face. An example of AMRAP HIIT workouts are:
- Do 10 Thrusters, 10 lunges, 10 weighted burpees, and 10 weighted jackknives as many times as you can within 16 minutes.
- Write down how many rounds you did and compete against yourself each week.
Tabata workouts are a period of work, followed by a period of rest. They are popular with functional training brands. You will need a more sophisticated timer. I use the WOD timer that’s free on Google Play and Apple. Using the sample workout above, this is what a TABATA structure looks like:
- Complete thrusters for 40 seconds, rest for 20 seconds
- Then do lunges for 40 seconds, rest for 20 seconds
- Complete weighted burpees for 40 seconds, rest for 20 seconds
- And finally, some weighted jackknives for 40 seconds, rest for 20 seconds
- Do this 4 times until you get to 16 minutes
You’ll likely be lifting way less than what you’re used to, so keep those reps high. Low repetitions are an intermediate technique after you’ve surpassed your newbie gains, a significant increase in lifting ability as you build new neurological pathways.
You’ll notice that the timings mentioned either didn’t specify a particular number of reps or sets. The idea of a sweaty HIIT session is to go as hard and as fast as you can. You’ll be utilizing the fatigue training technique to build mass and lose fat.
These workouts are intense, and you shouldn’t do them every day. The number of rest days that you need is dependent on:
- Your current fitness level
- Other fitness activities
- Pre-existing conditions
- Other rest activities (massage, ice baths, yoga)
If you’re a seasoned trainer, you could fit in up to 5 HIIT sessions with weights per week. For beginners, we recommend 3 workouts paired with 2 long-distance cardiovascular sessions. Make sure you balance your sessions by making sure you integrate a balance of lower body, upper body, and cardio workouts.
If You Don’t Have Any Weights At Home
Of course, you can achieve a great workout with just your body weight. For those who want it harder, there is high-quality equipment out there that is still available on Amazon during the pandemic.
The Best Single Dumbbells For Those On a Budget
For some of us, the money we were spending on a gym was more than enough. If you want to keep up your HIIT workouts from home and stop spending money on a gym, a good set of dumbells is worth it. The CAP Coated Hex Dumbbells are my favorite because they have a variety of weight sizes and easy-grip ribbing. I always prefer hexagonal dumbbells when given a choice because they don’t roll around when you drop them to the floor.
They’re affordable with an extremely high 4.5-star rating. When choosing your weight, I recommend that you choose one that is a little too heavy for your upper body and too light for your lower body. This way, you can add a challenge to your lower body movements by adding in an upper-body exercise. For example, thrusters are a squat with a shoulder press.
The Best Space Saving Dumbbells
Choosing a one size fits all solution like above is excellent for those on a budget. However, it’s not ideal for those serious about weight progression. There are plenty of space-saving dumbbells that you can add or remove weight to during exercises. The BowFlex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells are among the best on the market.
They have the highest ratings on Amazon at 4.5 stars and are the best space-saving option. You can lift from 5lbs to 52.5lbs, each dumbbell increasing in increments of 2.5lbs. I’ve personally used these at family members’ homes. I loved how I could go from doing heavy(ish) deadlifts to lighter shoulder presses within one HIIT workout. But it does come with a price tag (they tend to run anywhere from $200-300).