Sunday, October 20, 2019

Can HIIT Workouts Build Muscle?

 If you’re looking for a fat burning and muscle building workout, you might have stumbled upon high-intensity interval training or HIIT. Over time, athletes and fitness enthusiasts have utilized this form of intense training to develop lean muscle mass and maintain an incredibly cut physique.

There are a lot of misconceptions about HIIT and every other workout strategy alike. The bottom line is, if you’re looking for an intense workout that will guarantee you serious fat loss and lean muscle building, then you want to check out high-intensity interval training for yourself.

Understanding the Science Behind HIIT

The whole basis of high-intensity interval training is that everything is short and explosive. People who practice this kind of training believe that short, intense bursts of exercise have a lasting impact on your body composition. Take this for example,

Many people believe that endurance running is the ultimate way to build lean body mass, but practitioners of HIIT say that pushing yourself to the absolute limit for a short period is the way to go. Instead of running at a moderate pace for a half hour, you would break that up into a bunch of segments. You might run at your absolute limit for one minute and then cool down for two. You would repeat this process for the length of your workout.

The American Council on Exercise describes this training like this:

Most endurance workouts, such as walking, running, or stair-climbing —are performed at a moderate intensity, or an exertion level of 5-6 on a scale of 0-10.

High-intensity intervals, on the other hand, are done at an exertion level of 7 or higher, and are typically sustained for 30 seconds to 3 minutes, although they can be as short as 8-10 seconds or as long as 5 minutes; the higher the intensity, the shorter the speed interval. Recovery intervals are equal to or longer than the speed intervals.

So, as you can see, the difference lies in the intensity of each workout. You need to take yourself to your absolute max consistently and during those periods is when the most fat burning and muscle building takes place.

How HIIT Shreds Body Fat

First, let’s take a look at how HIIT impacts body fat. HIIT has shown across many studies to be one of the most powerful workouts for burning stubborn body fat.

We looked at a study of participants who agreed to three days a week of high-intensity exercise, and we compared them to another group of people who did five days a week of low intensity. The results were, people who committed to HIIT lost more fat in less time than the people who did the low-intensity workout.

If you’re having a hard time losing weight with some of your other exercises, this might be the easy way out. While the workouts are strenuous and you need to train yourself to push your body to the absolute limit, in the long run, it’s worth it. You’ll end up working out less and achieving better results for your efforts.

HIIT for Muscle Building?

The big question of the day is whether or not you can use high-intensity interval training for building muscle. The short answer here is yes you can. If you are looking to build lean muscle mass, this is the way to do it.

Short burst sprints followed by slow jogs is the essential way to utilize HIIT for muscle building. During those slow jogs is your opportunity to work on your endurance and build muscle faster. One of the easiest ways to promote muscle growth is to shorten your breaks and lengthen your bursts.

If you’re starting with ten-second bursts, for example, you might want to increase those to a full one minute burst. If your break is a lengthy five minutes, you might want to swap that out for a 30-second one. Flip-flopping your burst with your break is a great way to develop muscle faster during your down times.

Another great way to build muscle using HIIT is to pair it with something else. During your break times, instead of jogging or walking, you could do something else. You could jump rope, do push-ups, sit-ups, or even lift weights if you are at home.

One of the best benefits of HIIT is that it helps increase the size of fast-twitch muscle fibers instead of slow-twitch. These muscles are the main factors that determine your strength and speed, so it’s important to train them as you age continuously. Once you stop training fast twitch fibers, you lose them, and they’re gone forever. The best way to train them is with short bursts of HIIT.

Lastly, HIIT is a well-rounded exercise strategy for a variety of reasons. Not all of these directly play into muscle growth, but they all have a significant impact on overall health and wellness, which helps with muscle building.

HIIT is faster than traditional cardio which leaves more room for muscle building exercises, HIIT is effective in boosting V02 max which helps with endurance, and most people who practice this style of exercise say they enjoy it more because it’s more manageable over time.

Getting started with HIIT but not sure where to start? Check out Sprinterval.