In recent times, High Intensity Interval Training (otherwise known as HIIT) has become one of the most popular ways for people to train. The benefits have been well-established in the fitness industry, with HIIT workouts being tough but effective, with maximum bang for your buck.
Strength training, on the other hand, seemed to become a little less popular, with many people choosing HIIT as a strength training substitute. While HIIT is fantastic for fat loss due to the fact that it raises your heart rate and burns calories, strength training is also important when it comes to fat loss.
HIIT is a training technique that alternates between intense anaerobic exercise with short periods of rest. HIIT training is known for providing significant health improvements in the smallest amount of time – these workouts are definitely efficient. Runners have used interval training for decades, alternating between sprints and jogging to improve their endurance, but this type of workout didn’t really go mainstream until about a decade ago, when several studies came out touting the benefits.
You can burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time with HIIT, and we all know that burning calories, when combined with a sensible diet, helps with fat loss. Adding to this, your metabolic rate is higher for longer after HIIT than it is after steady-state cardio, which increases the benefits. It is great for your cardiovascular health and can also lead to some muscle gain, and having more muscle helps us burn more fat.
The basic premise of strength training is to overload the muscle, so that it needs to adapt to make it stronger. Strength training is the best way to change your body composition, giving you that ‘toned’ look. It promotes bone health as we age, and since muscle burns more calories than fat, improving your strength also means improving your metabolism.
The higher our metabolism, the easier it is to lose excess fat.
Strength or HIIT for Fat Loss?
People often ask me if lifting weights as part of their HIIT training means they can skip the strength training. While many HIIT workouts include weights, most of them aren’t designed to cause the progressive overload needed for your muscle needs to adapt and grow. When it comes to strength training, the key is to slowly and safely work your way up to using heavier weights. However when it comes to HIIT, your priority is exerting as much energy as you can. While HIIT can (and does) cause some level of muscle gain, strength training is superior in this area.
It’s all about balance, and ideally, you’ll include both into your workout schedule. Not only for fat loss, but also for the long list of benefits each type of training provides.
If you’re just getting started with strength training, or if you’re experienced but need a change, I recommend checking out my free 5-day strength series.
There are also plenty of HIIT workouts on my YouTube channel, get started with this 30-minute high-intensity no-repeat HIIT workout!
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