High Intensity Repeat Training (HIRT): An Alternative to HIIT


I like HIIT for increasing aerobic capacity while burning a ton of calories per minute in a workout.

The downside?

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HIIT can be stressful on the body.

If you aren’t careful you can become over-trained.

High Intensity Repeat Training… provides many of the same benefits as HIIT but isn’t as demanding on recovery.

I’ll get into HIRT after a quick music break.

The music theme?

Upbeat live performances I have found on Youtube over the past couple of weeks.

High intensity repeat training is similar to HIIT.

The biggest difference is that there is much more recovery in between sets.

The recovery portion of HIRT should be at least 3-5 times the work portion… a 15 to 20 second sprint would be followed by 1-2 minutes of rest.

Contrast this with HIIT…

A typical HIIT session might be 30 seconds of sprinting with 30 seconds of rest.

HIRT isn’t as taxing on the body as HIIT.

Instead of feeling drained, you will be energized.

Craig Marker of Breaking Muscle is the person who came up with this acronym.

He introduced the concept in this article.

The idea is to do a peak performance high-intensity explosive effort…

Then give yourself sufficient rest in order to repeat another peak performance effort of the same quality.

With HIIT the efforts degrade a bit as the workout progresses.

This isn’t the case with HIRT.

  • With HIRT, the goal is quality, not fatigue.
  • Because there is less fatigue, the body recovers faster in between workout sessions.
  • Since quality is the focus the body actually becomes more explosive.

The biggest problem with HIRT is that it doesn’t FEEL tough enough to be a great workout.

Resting this much can almost make the workout feel too easy.

If you have a HIIT mindset, you will want to begin the next set before it feels comfortable to do so.

You need to ignore your urge to shorten your rest periods.

Craig has a good quote about this in that HIRT article:

“Your feelings don’t matter! That is, your subjective feeling of the effectiveness of a workout is not important as what science tells us is important to building an impressive base of endurance and changing your body composition.”

My friend Chris Lopez is a big proponent of HIRT.

Chris is the kettlebell expert I partnered with to create our home workout course, Visual Impact Kettlebells.

Our entire kettlebell course is built around the HIRT.

The biggest issue we have with people who pick up our course?

Making sure they rest enough in between sets.

They turn our workouts into HIIT.

There isn’t anything wrong with HIIT, but Chris specifically designed our kettlebell workout around the concept of HIRT.

If the sets are rushed?

A person isn’t able to get the hard quality muscle contractions that create a firm and toned body.

HIRT lends itself perfectly to kettlebell lifts since many of the exercises are explosive in nature.

That being said…

You can also easily get a good HIRT workout in with sprinting.

  • Sprint 10-20 seconds
  • Rest about 2 minutes
  • Repeat for a total of 4-8 times

This works well on a football field.

The idea is to sprint the length of the field and then rest for 2+ minutes before your next sprint.

You need to rest enough to where each sprint is at least as explosive and fast as your first sprint.

You are reinforcing fast and explosive movement patterns.

This type of explosive training results in hormonal adaptations that burn body fat while improving athletic ability.

It takes a bit to get used to this approach.

It doesn’t feel like a typical fat burning workout.

This type of training won’t feel strenuous like a spin class.

It isn’t that HIIT is bad.

It just isn’t the only way to get lean and fit.

If your current workout is making you feel more fatigue than you would like, it may be time to mix in some HIRT.

You may find that it gives you similar benefits with less discomfort.

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For 15 years I've helped fashion models get lean for photoshoots. Use my plan to Lose 5-10 pounds of PURE body fat in 14 days.

If you want an entire workout based on HIRT?

Give Visual Impact Kettlebells a shot.


-Rusty Moore

As a former fitness coach to fashion models, I can teach you how to increase muscle definition without adding size.

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