Is HIIT Primarily For Weight Loss Or Muscle Building?

By Russ Howe

Despite growing in popularity over the last ten years or so, HIIT remains an area of health and fitness still shrouded in mystery. If you are attempting to determine how to build muscle effectively this is one area you definitely need to look into.

This is a form of cardiovascular activity with a major twist. Today we're going to look at this in more depth and answer the question everybody is asking. Is this a good form of exercise for muscular growth?
See the top 5 types of hiit sessions and what they are designed for.

While there are certainly multiple benefits to be had from a good cardiovascular exercise plan, most people don't find cardio as interesting as weight training. This is particularly true with men, who seem far more interested in resistance workouts than hitting the treadmill or elliptical trainer.

Naturally, this behavior stems from a largely untrue stereotype that cardio is for women and weights are for men. This age old belief is something which has held countless gym members back for years and it's built upon lies.

Believe it or not, if your main target in the gym is to build more lean muscle then cardiovascular exercise will indeed play a huge role in your accomplishments. There are several effective forms of cardio which improve fitness and hypertrophy, most notably high intensity interval training.

There are several key differences between high intensity cardio sessions and steady state workouts. If you've ever used an exercise bike for an hour at a steady pace you've probably felt a little bit bored at certain stages. That's one of the main drawbacks to this style of training and something which high intensity sessions will eliminate.

Interval training is very simple when you get down to the finer details of it. Basically your aim is to switch from a moderate level to a high level every so often, causing your body to be unable to adapt. This will have similar effects on your muscles to a resistance workout.

The two primary energy sources we use during exercise are called aerobic and anaerobic. During regular cardio workouts we use our aerobic system. However, during both resistance training and high intensity intervals we use the anaerobic system instead.

Things get even better when you look at how your body burns calories during this type of training. During a normal session your body stops burning calories when you stop exercising. However, if you have performed an interval session your body will continue to burn calories at an increased rate for 16 hours afterwards! This is also known as 'the afterburn effect'.

As you can see, learning how to build muscle isn't necessarily all about hitting the weights. HIIT is a great way to increase lean tissue, with the added benefit of stripping away unwanted body fat at an increased rate.

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