Weight training is great for you. Even if your goals are more about improving your fitness or losing weight than building size, everyone should be incorporating at least a small amount of resistance training into their exercise routines to help develop lean muscle and keep your bones and heart healthy.
Unfortunately, resistance training usually takes time. If you've got a set of the best adjustable dumbbells or best resistance bands, you can do a lot of resistance work at home, but training your muscles with slow, controlled movements makes for a longer workout than a quick HIIT session.
For larger equipment such as barbells and medicine balls, you'll likely need to visit a local gym, where you'll spend 45 minutes to an hour exercising in the same way.
If you're looking to build serious muscle, resistance training is likely to be your first port of call, and you won't mind taking the time. However, if you're interested in toning up or incorporating resistance elements into a different exercise routine, we can recommend trying HIRT, otherwise known as High-Intensity Resistance Training.
You've probably heard of High-Intensity Interval Training, otherwise known as HIIT. Designed to squeeze more exercise into a short space of time, you do exercises like burpees, mountain climbers, or anything else from our list of the best exercises for weight loss at maximum intensity for a short space of time. Take a short recovery period, and then go again.
HIRT follows these principles and applies them to resistance training. For example, you might do a squat, followed by a dumbbell press, continuously for one minute. Once the timer beeps, you might take 30 seconds to rest, then go again for four sets. That would be a six-minute HIRT exercise, which would get you sweaty and rack your metabolism up, while also incorporating resistance training.
There's evidence the HIRT approach works, as researchers from the universities of Padova and Palermo (opens in new tab) found that eight weeks of HIRT improved muscle strength, endurance strength and lean body mass, whereas traditional resistance training only improved muscle strength. Not only does HIRT cram more exercise into a shorter space of time, but it also really improves your strength, helps you get fit, spikes your metabolism and improves lean body muscle. This 25-minute workout is a great starting point.
Just make sure you're fuelling your body right with plenty of protein. Dietary protein acts as the building block of muscle, helping fuel muscle repair and growth after a tough workout. Check out our guide to the best protein powder for weight loss to help you get started.
Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and News Editor at Fit&Well, covering all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
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