Conditioning Workouts Do Not Affect Strength Gains

Need another reason to add either HIIT or HIRT into your workout routine?

A university study has concluded that a combination of cross training and strength training produces the same strength adaptations as strength training alone, while also eliciting the wonderful benefits of cardiovascular conditioning.


In the study there were 3 groups:

  1. Control
  2. Resistance Training Only
  3. Resistance and Cross Training

The study lasted 16 weeks and was tested on 38 sedentary, apparently healthy males (25 yr +/- 8 mo).

At then end of the 16 weeks, there was no change in the control group, but researchers found equal strength gains in the Resistance Training, and Resistance plus Cross Training groups. For those two groups, the two distinct training styles produced equal gains in strength development.

This is great news for people who enjoy conditioning drills.

My only problem was that the study was conducted with sedentary males, rather than trained athletes or at least experienced weight lifters. This leads me to the question the effectiveness of conditioning in conjunction with resistance training for non-beginners.

When I go back and look at myself and the people whom I have trained, I often see even better results in athletes who combine conditioning with resistance training. This leads me to believe that everyone can benefit from adding cardiovascular work to their resistance training program.

Those who choose to use resistance training alone often end up out of shape, poorly conditioned for daily activity, slower performance, tend to have higher bodyfat, are less flexible, and more prone to injury. Given these observations, I definitely support using HIIT and/or HIRT with a regular resistance training program.

What does this mean to you?

It means that starting today you should change your workout routine to add at least 2 HIIT sessions per week so that when you hit age 60 your internal systems will still function at a high level.

It also means that you can substitute regular full body resistance training with a HIRT workout or two or three.

How should you integrate HIIT and HIRT?

Assuming you want to include traditional resistance training with HIIT and HIRT, I guarantee you one hell of a week. HIRT workouts can generally replace traditional weight training.

Here is a sample HIIT/HIRT/Strength routine for someone who wants to get in better cardiovascular shape, lose some fat, but still prioritize strength gains.

Day 1: 45 minutes of full body resistance training
goal – maximal strength resistance training

Day 2: 25 minutes of HIIT
goal – maximal intensity cardiovascular training

Day 3: 45 minutes of HIRT
goal – maximal intensity resistance and endurance training

Day 4: 25 minutes of HIIT
goal – maximal intensity cardiovascular training

Day 5: 45 minutes of full body resistance training
goal – maximal strength resistance training

You could replace the HIRT workout on day 3 with a traditional full body resistance training routine if you care more about strength gains than fat loss.

Creating Your Own Routine


Shaw, BS, Shaw, I, and Brown, GA. Comparison of Resistance and Concurrent Resistance and Endurance Training Regimes in the Development of Strength. J Strength Cond Res. 2009 Nov 6.

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