How to Balance HIIT and Strength Training Workouts

You’ve FINALLY decided to pull the trigger and join a gym!  First of all, good for you 😊 You’re ready to begin your fitness journey, feel better, improve your health and of course, get results! 

Being new to this exercise stuff, you’re likely wondering which style of classes and/or level of personal training is best for your personal goals and desired results:

… Should you be doing HIIT?

… Is personal training the way to go?

… What about strength training – is it safe (and effective) to lift weights?

Or, maybe you’ve been cruising along in your workouts but not seeing the exact results you hoped for:

… Are you being consistent enough?

… Are you doing the right type of workout?

… Is there a faster path for getting results?

Good news!  In this blog, I am breaking down a detailed comparison of HIIT based workouts (High Intensity Interval Training) and Strength Training based workouts (lifting weights) so you can decide the right path for your results and fitness journey to live happy, healthy, and STRONG!  


What exactly does HIIT mean?  What kind of workout should you expect? 

High-intensity Interval Training or HIIT is defined as physical training alternating between short bursts of very intense exercise followed by short periods of rest.  At Results Fitness, this workout style is performed in our Interval Classes where we fuse together high intensity cardio-based exercises with bodyweight and kettlebells.

All in all, HIIT workouts are designed to keep your body moving and heart rate up.  Although weights can be used, HIIT is not a true strength training workout because you are using submaximal weights with short rest breaks.  Now that we know what HIIT means, here are the benefits:

Benefits of HIIT

  • Improves Cardiovascular Health: Research shows HIIT is considered endurance training for the heart muscles, increasing the efficiency of the overall heart and reducing the risk of developing heart disease. It can also be beneficial in reducing heart rate and blood pressure for those overweight or obese.

  • Burns a Lot of Calories: Burn a lot of calories in less time while improving your metabolic rate for hours after you exercise. This is called Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption and can last up to 24 hours.

  • Time-Efficient: Get a lot of work done in a short amount of time; ideal if you have a busy schedule.

  • Keeps Exercise Fun and Induces Stress Relief: Fast-paced workouts don’t allow much time for thinking; limiting the chance to feel bored or stressed about your day. This reprieve offers great benefits to your mental health.

  • Requires Minimal Equipment: Most HIIT classes use minimal pieces of equipment/weights so you can easily duplicate these at home or on the go.


Disadvantages of HIIT:

  • Less Beginner Friendly: Because it’s fast-paced, HIIT isn’t beginner friendly. Before starting this type of workout, it’s best and important to have a strong foundation of functional movement and exercise patterns. Also, these are larger classes (more people) so no 1:1 or personalized coaching.

  • Increases Risk for Injury: HIIT is a highly demanding form of training that can place strain on the body and increase risk for injury IF form is sacrificed for speed. Plus, many of these workouts include high impact exercises such as running or jumping which aren’t always joint friendly.

  • Increases Risk of Overtraining and Burnout: HIIT is best when done in small doses: 2-3/week, especially if you are a beginner. Any more volume can lead to increased wear and tear on your joints, possible injury and may cause the body to have a negative response to the training such as burnout and/or overtraining. Overtraining occurs when the body isn’t given enough time to recovery appropriately between workouts and can lead to a plateau in progress, a decrease in performance, or even worse, a decrease in strength and overall fitness.

HIIT and our Interval Classes are super fun, totally awesome, and an effective workout modality best done in small doses and in conjunction with regular strength training sessions!  However, only participating in this type of training may lead to injury and/or may derail your overall progress if done too much – because of the higher intensity and shorter rest breaks, there is more wear and tear on the joints, tendons and ligaments. 


What exactly does Strength Training mean?  What kind of workout should you expect?

Strength Training – or lifting weights/ resistance training-  is a form of exercise using resistance (i.e., barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, bands,) to improve overall strength and endurance.  Strength training is most associated with lifting weights but may incorporate calisthenics (bodyweight exercises- think jumping jacks), isometrics (static contraction/holds- think planks), and plyometrics (explosive jumps- think box jumps).

The fundamental idea behind strength training is the body/muscle is working to overcome a form of resistance and this leads to building muscle, improving joint health and mobility, getting stronger, moving better, and transforming your physique.

For best results, strength training is done over a 6-12 week program that focuses on proper form first, then increased weight for that given program over time. In the world of fitness nerds, we call this progressive overload!

At Results Fitness, this is the exact training style we program and coach in our Small Group Personal Training sessions where multiple fitness tools are utilized to provide resistance and a various movements/types of exercises are executed.  Finishers during these classes may include 5-10 minutes of moderate HIIT type exercises; delivering all the benefits of HIIT without overdoing it. 

 Now that we know what true strength training means, here are the benefits:

Benefits of Strength Training:

  • Fastest Path to Results: Programs are full customized, so you always get the best, most effective workout for your body. The level of personalized coaching ensures you are moving / exercising correctly. Proper form + personalized workout = better results!

  • Makes You Stronger: Strength training makes you stronger by building lean muscle mass. This new improved strength makes daily tasks like picking up your kids/grandkids, carrying groceries, helping your kids move to college, gardening, or even changing your cat’s litter box EASIER!

  • Burns Calories More Efficiently: Strength training boosts your metabolism by building lean muscles mass. The more muscle you have, the more calories your body can burn and for longer (up to 72 hours post workout).

  • Burns More Fat: Strength training is the more effective tool for burning fat because your body takes longer and uses more energy to recover from strength training than cardio. The more muscle you have, the more fat your body burns.

  • Increases Bone Density: Weight bearing exercises are crucial for bone development. The temporary increased stress/resistance from strength training exercises sends a signal to the bone-building cells in our body to rebuild our bones and make them stronger. Stronger bones help to decrease the risk of osteoporosis, falls and fractures as we age.

  • Improves Flexibility and Mobility: Strength training not only increase overall strength in your muscles, but it also builds strength and resilience in your bones, tendons, and ligaments. This improved strength allows for increased stability and range of motion of your joints; decreasing your risk for injury in major problem areas such as knees, hips and low back.

  • Improves Mental Health/Brain Function: Strength training boosts confidence and self-esteem, improving overall mood and cognitive functioning. Increased blood flow, decreased inflammation, and the release of mood-boosting endorphins during exercise is directly linked to positive effects on brain functioning/mental health.

  • Ideal for Beginners: At Results Fitness, our certified trainers work 1:1 with each individual to provide the personalized coaching needed for the safest, most effective workout customized to individual fitness levels, level of preferred challenge and if/when needed. Modifications for injuries or movement limitations.

  • Decreases Risk for Injury: Working 1:1 with a certified coach decreases risk of injury. Strength Training is not fast paced like HIIT. Instead, the focus is on having the time and space to appropriately challenge your body while focusing on proper technique and form. Whether you are new to strength training or experience, our coaches provide you with the cues and techniques needed to make sure you are exercising safely and pain-free.


Disadvantages of Strength Training:

  • Can Increase Aches and Pains: Lifting too much weight too soon because you don’t have a coach, you’re new or, don’t understand how to lift weights can cause damage to muscles, tendons, and ligaments increasing risk for injury and overall pain.

  • Poor Form Can Lead to Injury: Lifting weights with poor form and /or without being coached can lead to injury.

[This is why you get 1:1, personalized coaching in our Small Group Personal Training sessions– so you always know what to do and you always are doing it correctly. This eliminates both of the above disadvantages].

If you are new to exercise or, looking to get stronger, build lean muscle, move better or transform your body, Strength Training (our Small Group Personal Training Sessions) are the perfect fit for you! 

Working 1:1 with our certified coaches guarantees you exercise with proper form while decreasing your risk for injury. The utilization of weights and other forms of resistance leads to amazing benefits to improve your quality of life so you can live happy, healthy, and strong! For best results, it is recommended you strength train 2-4 x/week. 

My highly biased, absolute personal favorite workout mix for most humans looking to be as fit as possible with the best bang for their buck: prioritize strength training in our Small Group Personal Training 2-4x/week and supplement with Interval Classes 2-3x/week for added variety and conditioning.


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