High Intensity Resistance Training…or Part 4 of the “Why Can’t I Lose This Fat” saga

.For those of you that need to catch up, here is  Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

And now that you’re all caught up, on with Part 4.


Part 4 – High Intensity Resistance Training


As I said in Part 3, high intensity resistance workouts are the superstars of this entire program. When performed properly, they elevate your BMR, drastically increase your EPOC and burn a fair amount of calories per workout.

But all you need to know is that they:

  • Increase metabolism for up to 36 hours post-workout
  • Drastically outperform diet and aerobic exercise in fat loss studies
  • Maintain muscle mass in subjects on a Very Low Calorie Diet


H.I.R.T. Workouts



Always remember that the goal of this program is to burn as much fat as possible, while preserving your current level of muscle mass.

To achieve this goal, your program needs to focus on:

  • Total Body workouts
  • Pushing yourself until your muscles burn with lactic acid
  • Perform super-sets, tri-sets, giant sets, etc…
  • Compound exercises – squats instead of leg extensions
  • Big muscle groups – legs, back and chest instead of arms and shoulders
  • Performing sets of 5 to 15 repetitions

How you put together all of these elements is up to you. Your physiology is different than mine. Your history of injuries is different than mine. Your availability to equipment is different from mine. Your tolerance for exercise intensity is different…

But even with all of these differences, two things need to be the same. We both need to ensure that we:

  • Maximize the Intensity of Each EXERCISE, and
  • Maximize the Intensity of Each WORKOUT

So, how do we do that?

Old School v.s. New School

High Intensity Resistance Training (HIRT) has been around for a long time. There is a ton of information available to help you design your own program. It’s the stuff you see in the bodybuilding magazines.

To be honest, I couldn’t care less about the Old School HIRT training. Not that it doesn’t work. It just bores me.

However, if you are interested, here are a few links:


Dave Draper

IronMan Magazine

Mens Health

Now that I have given such a glowing review about Old School HIRT training, let me introduce you to the New School.

Let me introduce you to FUSION training.


FUSION Training

I have been playing around with this type of training for the past few years.

Here is the general concept.

We already know that for fat loss training, generating exercise and workout intensity is key.

That is why Compound exercises (Squats, Deadlifts) are better than Isolation exercises (Leg Extension, Leg Curl).

Fusion exercises and workouts raise the intensity bar even higher.

Imagine an exercise where you combine a deadlift, a snatch and an overhead squat.

All in one move. You do not put the bar down until you have completed the set.


That is a Fusion exercise.

Now imagine a workout where you string together set after set of these Fusion exercises.

That is a Fusion workout, and it WILL kick your tail.


Build Your Own Fusion Workout

The Basics

  • 3x per week Maximum
  • At least 24 hrs. rest between workouts
  • Put the most complicated Fusions at the beginning of the workout
  • Put the most intense Fusions at the beginning of the workout
  • Hit all of the major movements each workout
  • Change repetition schemes each workout
  • 60 seconds between sets
  • The weakest exercise in the Fusion will determine the exercise weight
  • Be prepared for nausea…seriously

Sample Workout

Here is a workout I designed for a client earlier this month.

  • The client is training 3x per week – Mon/Wed/Fri
  • I have designed 2 different workouts to ensure that each week will be different
  • Week 1 will consist of workouts A, B and A – Week 2 will consist of workouts B, A and B and so on…
  • Each workout will have 4 Fusion exercises
  • Monday’s workout will consist of 5 sets of 5 reps of each Fusion exercise
  • Wednesday’s workout will consist of 4 sets of 8 reps of each Fusion exercise
  • Friday’s workout will consist of 3 sets of 12 reps of each Fusion exercise
  • In addition to fat loss, this client needs to bring up leg and core strength – exercise selection will reflect that goal


Fusion Workout A

Exercise 1: BB / DB Hanging Clean to Thruster – 60 sec. rest between sets

Hanging Clean demo video

Thruster demo video


Exercise 2: 1 Arm Cable / Band Chest Press to 1 Arm Cable / Band Row – 60 sec. rest between sets

Press demo video

Row demo video


Exercise 3: Chin-Up to Windshield Wipers – 60 sec. rest between sets

Windshield Wiper demo video


Exercise 4: 10 Minutes of Swing Snatches – 1 set – as many reps as possible

Swing Snatch demo video


Fusion Workout B

Exercise 1: 1 Leg Squat to 1 Leg Deadlift to Bulgarian Squat – 60 sec. rest between sets

1 Leg Squat demo video

1 Leg Deadlift demo video

Bulgarian Squat demo video


Exercise 2: Glute-Ham Raise to Standing Cable Crunch Crunch to Pulldowns – 60 sec. rest between sets

Glute-Ham Raise demo video

Standing Cable Crunch demo video

Pulldown demo video


Exercise 3: Stability Ball Push Up to Twisting Jack-Knife – 60 sec. rest between sets

Tempo is modified to increase or decrease intensity


Exercise 4: Plank Series – Side / Supine / Other Side / Prone – 30 sec. each position

Side and Prone Plank demo video

Supine Bridge demo video



Now It’s Your Turn

When it comes to designing your own Fusion workout, try and choose exercises that hit a variety of muscle groups and movement patterns.

Here are some of my favorites to get you started:

Posterior Chain

  • Deadlift
  • 1 Leg Deadlift
  • Suitcase Deadlift
  • Romanian Deadlift
  • Pullthroughs
  • Good Mornings
  • Glute Ham Raises
  • Any Olympic lift – snatch, clean

Anterior Chain

  • Lunges..all varieties
  • Squats
  • Bulgarian Squats
  • Overhead Squats
  • Squat Jumps
  • 1 Leg Squat
  • Front Squat
  • Zercher Squat

Horizontal Push

  • Standing Cable / Band Press
  • Push-Ups…all varieties
  • Dive Bombers or Hindu Push-Ups

Horizontal Pull

  • Body weight Row
  • Bent-Over Row
  • Sternum Chin-Ups
  • Standing Cable / Band Row

Vertical Push

  • Presses…all varieties
  • Thrusters
  • Handstand Push-Up

Vertical Pull

  • Chin-Ups
  • Pull-Ups
  • Pulldowns
  • High Pulls


  • Planks or other “postures”
  • Crunches…all varieties
  • Leg raises…all varieties
  • Twisting movements (woodchops, etc…)
  • Roll-Outs

and many, many more…


That should get you started.

In Part 5 of this series, I will look at High Intensity Anaerobic Interval Training (HIIT).

So, until then,


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  1. The videos really help–otherwise, I’d have no idea what was what. However, I’m still not sure I completely understand how you’re supposed to transition from one move to another when you have more than one move in an exercise.

    Also–what if you don’t have access to all those machines and weights? My apartment complex has a small workout room with a very limited selection. My college’s gym might have most of those, but now that I live off campus, with the gym no longer within walking distance, I go there much less often. Even if I did, I’m not sure I’d feel confident enough to attempt these moves after only seeing them online, with equipment I’ve never used. And it seems like, at least at my school, the only people using those weights and machines are guys. It may be silly, but I think I’d feel weird and a little uncomfortable being the only girl surrounded by big-muscled guys who knew what they were doing and were just waiting for me to get out of the way.

  2. Brit,

    I think the next post will suit your needs a little better.

    I will focus mostly on body-weight, band and light weight exercises. It will also be less complex.

    Even though this style (HIRT) of training is the most effective for weight loss, it is not the most appropriate for a normal lifestyle.

    On the other hand, High Intensity Anaerobic Interval Training is almost as effective at weight loss and fits better into a normal person’s idea of exercise.

    I will have it posted on Thursday.

    What kind of equipment do you have access to?

    I haven’t decided on the exercises for the program yet, so I could just as easily design the program around your needs.

    Let me know.
    email me at dr.healthhabits@gmail.com if you are interested.

  3. Thanks Rambodoc…The next post will deal with my personal favorite method of training – High Intensity Anaerobic Training…should be finished by Thursday

    Thanks for dropping by

  4. I’m another one with no access to any equipment, so I’ll be looking forward to the next post – I’ve been considering investing in some kit but it would need to be reasonably compact (I don’t have much space) and versatile for the price (not much money either!). I suspect resistance bands may be my best bet but I’m open to suggestions…

    At the moment I’m not doing any resistance training but I think it’s something I need to start getting into. I’m not overweight, not particularly bothered about having a six-pack and have fairly good endurance but I’m lacking the explosive burst of power over short timescales (90 seconds-ish) that would help give me an edge in the sports I participate in (cycling and martial arts). At the moment I start to run out of steam 100 yards from the line in a sprint or two-thirds into a bout. Not good!

  5. DR,
    I subscribe to your blog, and even recommended it in this article.
    One thing I think needed mention in this (or maybe the next) article is how much weight loss one should expect with a particular grade of High Intensity Weight Training. For example, if I do 60 minutes of weights four to five days a week, how much of fat loss should I expect. Looking at it another way, how many calories would be spent in that time in the gym and how much off it in EPOC?

  6. Hi,

    Thanks for this series, I’m really following it closely for ideas on how to exercise more efficiently after I’ve finished my ‘consistency building’ phase as I’m calling it.

    While I do have access to a professional gym I think I’m still a bit confused by HIRT. My main issue seems to be in understanding most of the terms. I mean ‘squat’ is simple enough, but cleans, thrusters, jack-knife, snatches… and then all the different kinds of the above has my head spinning a bit.

    Can you recommend a good site or magazine or two where I can learn about these terms and see more pictures so I get the idea.

    The second issue I have is figuring out how you are putting these exercises together into one motion, in the plank series and the leg squat series I can visualize it but I’m having trouble visualizing the others. Is the intention do be able to do the combination as one fluid movement?

    Finally, I’d like to ask: my impression is that HIRT is likely best suited to someone of moderate to good physical condition and should not likely be tried at least many of the combinations for beginners without some supervision so that form in maintained and the person does not hurt themselves. I don’t think this holds for all of the exercises (like rows seem simple enough) but some look like they could go wrong if unsupervised (cleans I’m thinking in particular).

    I’m wondering if using the HIRT ‘old school’ to develop the form for the individual motions is recommended before building them into a fusion exercise.


  7. HIRT “old school” is your standard bodybuilding type workout. Squats, bench presses, pulldowns, etc…

    I debated leaving out that list of exercises for fear that it would be confusing.

    I will try to put together a quick post describing each of the exercises.

    Re putting the exercises together as one Fusion exercise: I try to put exercises together than don’t require any downtime between exercises. The best case scenario is you load 1 barbell/dumbbell/cable stack and move from one movement to the next.

    For example:

    In the Glute-Ham Raise to Standing Cable Crunch Crunch to Pulldowns Fusion set:

    You would set the weight in the pulldown machine for a weight that works for your standing cable crunches.

    Then you would squeeze yourself backwards into the machine for the G-H raises. When that set is finished, stand up and grap the pulldown bar and perform the standing cable crunch…when that set is done, sit down on the machine and perform the pulldowns

    Rest 60 seconds and do it again.

    The first time you try this, it WILL be awkward.

    It will get easier and you will be able to move much quicker between exercises.

    It is a bit of trial and error putting fusion sets together.

    A beginner can do this method of training, but they may require some assistance or at least choose movements that they understand.

    Like anything else, there is a learning curve.

    A beginner should first learn how to perform some basic movements correctly – squats, deadlifts, overhead press, chins, horizontal presses and rows and core work

    Then it is just a matter of their own imagination .

    A chest press can be performed lots of different ways:

    standing, seated,prone on a bench, prone on the floor

    Barbell, dumbbell,bands,cables, bodyweight, bodyweight with chains, machines, bodyweight on a stability ball

    1 arm, 2 arm

    hands wide, narrow, middle, fingers out, straight, in

    different tempos


    different rep schemes

    The permutations are endless

    Thanks for the feedback. I will try to address your concerns in a new post

  8. Hi rambodoc,

    It’s pretty much impossible to make an accurate estimate of how much weight loss will be achieved through this training method.

    There are so many other factors involved, nutrition being the most important.

    We could estimate the caloric burn. But it would be a very rough estimate. We have to keep in mind that the caloric burn data we see on cardio machines is a very rough estimate. It really shouldn’t be trusted.

    And caloric burn is only a small part of the effectiveness of this training protocol.

    At this point, there just isn’t any hard scientific data on this stuff.

    The studies that have been done are pretty small and usually look at the effect of steady state cardio or a very simplistic resistance training program.

    I am always on the lookout for some scientific data to back up what I see with my clients.

    The fact is, at this point, this type of training is evolving faster than the scientific research. While it originated from earlier research, it has been modified by a bunch of trainers, strength coaches, etc into something new and much more effective.

    The science needs to catch up.

    I just know that after 19+ years of torturing my clients, this method of training and HIIT training are the most effective at transforming my clients’ bodies.

    I also wanted to thank you for your questions.

    As the science progresses, I will update the blog

  9. Great info but, whew, it may be a bit much for my 55 yo doctor body. However I am a big believer in weight training for weight loss. After about 6 months of working out at the gym, the pounds started to come off so much more easily.

  10. I’m going back over these videos because I THINK my apartment complex’s gym might have the correct equipment, and I’m trying to get myself to maybe do these. But I’m still getting confused. Take, for example, exercise 2 from workout A–the Arm Cable / Band Chest Press to 1 Arm Cable / Band Row exercise.

    For the Monday workout, you say to do 5 sets of 5 reps each. So would one set be doing 5 presses, and then 5 rows? OR, would it be press, row, press, row, etc., until you’ve done the combination 5 times? And if it’s the second, how are you supposed to transition? Do you just do the press, turn around, and then do the row?


  11. Brit,

    It’s Press/Row/Press/Row…

    Do 5 reps of cable/band presses, turn around and do 5 reps of cable/band rows

    Rest 60 seconds and go again until you have completed the 5 sets.

    If you want, take a few digital pictures of your apartment gym and email them to me – dr.healthhabits@gmail.com

    That way, I should be able to make some appropriate exercise suggestions.

  12. Hey Doug, I’ve been a reader of your blog for a while and want to thank you for all of your excellent advice!
    I also have a question regarding workouts… 2 weeks ago I started performing HIRT workouts in an alternating pattern M/W/F with some light walking cardio Tu/Th. Would it be alright for me to start incorporating anaerobic HIIT into my workouts on my non-HIRT days? I don’t want to overtrain my muscles, but this college beer belly has got to go!

  13. Hey Mike…it sounds like a great idea. That’s how I do it with new clients. I have them add one or two HIIT sprints into their cardio workouts. That could be breaking into a sprint in the middle of a walk around the block or while on a bike ride, etc…

    Re overtraining, I would consider adding a dose of creatine into your pre-workout drink. And pay attention to what you’re body is trying to tell you.

    With my clients, I take over that role…always paying attention to how their body is responding to the training/diet.

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