Why Can’t I Lose Weight?

As I said in page 3, high intensity resistance training 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

Why Can't I Lose Weight?

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:

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

Let me introduce you to Health Habits HIRT.


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).
  • HIRT set 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.

Now imagine a workout where you string together set after set of these HIRT’n exercises.

That is a Health Habits HIRT workout, and it WILL kick your tail.

Build Your Own HIRT Workout

The Basics

  • 3x per week Maximum
  • At least 24 hrs. rest between workouts
  • Put the most complicated HIRT set at the beginning of the workout
  • Put the most intense HIRT set 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 HIRT set 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 HIRT exercises
  • Monday’s workout will consist of 5 sets of 5 reps of each HIRT exercise
  • Wednesday’s workout will consist of 4 sets of 8 reps of each HIRT exercise
  • Friday’s workout will consist of 3 sets of 12 reps of each HIRT exercise
  • In addition to fat loss, this client needs to bring up leg and core strength – exercise selection will reflect that goal

HIRT 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

HIRT 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 Health Habits HIRT 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 the next page, I will look closely at High Intensity Anaerobic Interval Training (HIIT)

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  1. Mark,

    I think I need a more all-encompassing title than mental strategies.

    I think that our conscious and unconscious thoughts are so tied up with our emotions, that they are virtually inseparable.

    Maybe I should call it mind-body, but that may be too much of a cliche.

    Any suggestions?

  2. ” Nutrition,Exercise, and Mental Strategies”
    This is true. Maybe include emotional as well?

    Nice post, I look forward to the additions!

  3. I agree, we need to take a new approach to healthy weight loss. It’s about lifestyle changes, not overnight pills or diets. Great post!

  4. this post is great! please keep updating people on how to do it. you’re totally right about how confused people are. i’ll be looking out for what you have to say!!

  5. There is a good book by Paul McKenna called “I Can Make You Thin”. Paul McKenna is very popular in the UK, I don’t know how well known he is over the pond.

    His approach is totally different to anybody else’s that I have ever seen. Basically, rather than counting callories or exercising, etc; it is about how to adapt your lifestyle to speed up your body’s matabalism so that you burn things of naturally.

    Many diets put the body into “famine” mode, where the body thinks that there is not enough food to go around. The body therefore stores as much as it can in case the “famine” lasts.

    Everytime you don’t eat when you ARE ACTUALLY HUNGERY, in order to keep the calories down; you are pushing your body deeper into “famine” mode.

    I have a great respect for Paul McKenna’s work. In fact, you’ve given me an idea for a posting on my own blog 🙂

    PS: In the UK, most of Paul McKenna’s book are on Ebay. Have a look in your country’s Ebay.

  6. Yavor,

    I have to disagree with you.

    On one level, you are right. If I fast or reduce carbs, I will lose weight. So will most people.

    But when I go back to my “normal” way of eating, I will gain the weight back, plus I will have lost muscle mass from the fast.

    Less muscle and more fat…a pretty bad combination.

    These are the type of people that I work with every day.

    Trying to find a lifestyle that works for them and helps them burn of fat and get healthy is a lot more complex than just dropping calories or carbs.

    Thanks for the comment

    Looking forward to hearing more from you.

  7. If people only find a way to eat less which works for them, they will succeed. Fasting, low-carbing, they all work. Just pick one that works for you.



  8. Health Habits is a good place to come for sound advice.

    I’d like to add to this discussion. I talk in depth on my blog about Water Retention. It is not well understood by western medicine, and is a huge contributor to heart disease, and heart failure. My newest post talks about how to tell if you are retaining water and what to do about it.

    If water is your issue rather than fat, you will be frustrated with traditional dieting, and the excess fluid in your system will over burden your heart muscle!

    Be well,
    Many blessings.

  9. What a coincidence!

    I was just reading a chapter in Gary Taubes’ book, Good calories, Bad Calories, about how a high carb diet forces your body to hold onto excess fluid, resulting in higher blood pressure.


    I have to admit that I don’t know very much about water retention. Could you throw a little info / science my way?

  10. Am I overweight? It is a common question. I found your article is very informative. I would like to say that simple free hand Yoga everyday for 15 minutes along with 30 minutes breathing exercises (Pranayam) is extremely helpful for quick fat loss. Actually pranayam improves metabolism and oxygen carrying capacity of your blood. I referred your websites to my clients becuase I found it is extremely useful.

  11. The attorney general has come out and said that by the year 2025 85% of all americans will be OBESE. Not just over weight.. OBESE. Also siad that if the current trend continues our children’s generation will be the first of a downward trend of average life expectancy. That is a downward TREND! Chemicals, additives and preservatives along with GMO plants. are the cause!

  12. I am so envious of her. I am 5’5” and would LOVE to weight 170. I have a bit more ‘bagage’ than that. I also have tried many, many things and nothing seems to be working for me either. I need help STAT. I just can’t be this fat girl anymore. I love your posts and look so forward to reading on about how I can FINALLY lose the fat that I need and want to. Thank you!!!

  13. I’m 26 years old.
    132 lbs
    I work out 6/7 days/week
    Lift weights in a high intensity for 40 – 60 min/day
    Sometimes I do Tabata work outs.
    I have a balanced diet with a lot of protein.
    around 1,300 cal/day
    I do eat sugar sometimes but nothing absurd.
    and I can’t get rid of 1 inch of body fat.
    I’ve been doing this for at least 2 years. And I just gained/didn’t lose.
    I only lose when I do atkins (but gain all it back once I eat a breadstick) or when I starve myself eating 800 cal/day.

    tried to raise my cals intake, gained even more fat.
    should I give up? haha

  14. Let’s look at what we know:

    You eat healthy & exercise a ton but can’t get as lean as you want. From this, I would say that adding more exercise isn’t going to solve your problem.

    We also know that when you drop calories very low, you lose weight, but we are not going to look at dropping calories below 1300 – the down side of doing that is greater than any long term benefit

    We also know that low carb takes the food off and when you increase it the weight comes back on – this tells us that like just about everyone else, your bodyfat storage is strongly affected by insulin.

    So, where do we go from here?

    If you can afford it, it would help to get a hormone panel done

    Estradiol (a potent estrogen)
    TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone)
    Free T4
    Free T3 (the metabolically active thyroid hormone)
    Free testosterone
    Total testosterone
    Total Cholesterol
    LDL (low-density lipoprotein)
    HDL (high-density lipoprotein)
    C-reactive protein
    Liver function
    Kidney function
    Complete blood cell counts
    and any others your doc can think of…

    But before you do that, take a look at nutrient cycling. In particular, try and consume the majority of your carbs before and after your workouts. That way insulin is going to put those carbs to work fuelling your muscles and not storing them as fat.

    I am working on a new diet ebook that will include this tip amongst others – should be out in a few weeks and will cost under $5. HH readers will pay less if they pick it up from the blog

  15. I think the word “fast” needs to be stricken from any dieters vocab. If you are looking for “fast” results you’re gonna fail long term. Understanding that losing weight at a moderate rate over time is the only true success. #WINNING

  16. This series is a MUST READ for anyone out there looking for real advice on healthy, long lasting, weight loss! No Gimmicks allowed!

  17. Doug, I think that some of the terminology describing the exact formula for your HIRT workout is confusing. For instance, Day 1, Workout A above in your sample workout, consists of 4 “Exercises”. But if I’m reading it correctly, some of them are 2 or 3 exercises grouped together. (Hang Clean TO Squat Thrust; 60 seconds rest between sets. What constitutes a set? 5 Reps of Hang Cleans? Or 5 reps of Hang Cleans followed by 5 reps of Thrusters? OR am I completely off base and is the whole exercise a Hang Clean/Thruster and one set is 5 reps of that compound movement. I think its the second option I listed but I’d love clarification, thanks!

  18. Great article! I agree with your methods & I think you put in some awesome videos! The article is helpful to all the people who feel frustrated with working out and not seeing more results. I like what you told one of the people who commented – Marina – about getting a hormonal profile. Thanks for the great read, can’t wait to share.

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