Muscles with HIIT: Busting The Myth

Muscles with HIIT: Busting The Myth

July 3, 2024

Cardiovascular exercises are said to be helpful only when the goals are to lose weight or reduce fat. In addition, maintaining muscle mass while performing this type of exercise is likely impossible. We are here to explore how HIIT builds muscle mass and its effectiveness.

When building your muscles, HIIT can be an extra factor for the routine you are looking for. By following a training method that involves short bursts of intense exercise and low periods of resting time, HIIT training programs stimulate muscle hypertrophy, especially in fast-twitch muscle fibers, which are more involved during explosive movements.

Conversely, the anaerobic elements of HIIT exercises like jump squats, sprints, and burpees challenge gymgoers’ muscles to work at a maximum capacity and intensity, fostering strength improvements and growth.

Now that you better understand how HIIT contributes to your muscle-building process, we will compare HIIT and traditional strength training.

person using battle ropes

HIIT vs. Traditional Strength Training

How can we compare HIIT and traditional strength training methods and functionality? It’s all about investigating their impact and the mechanisms that affect distinct muscle hypertrophy. While HIIT is mainly known for being effective in cardiovascular benefits, the nature of this training program can lead to muscle development. Additionally, by adding resistance-based exercises, the results will be even better. However, more is needed to achieve muscle growth and volume; we also need a complement that goes along with that.

On the other hand, traditional strength training helps specifically with strength gains and muscle hypertrophy. Traditional strength training exercises commonly involve weightlifting in controlled movements with sets and a certain number of repetitions. Compared to HIIT training and exercises, traditional strength training focuses on fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscle fibers, leading to more targeted and continued muscle growth and adaptation.

Traditional strength training is optimal for building muscle quicker and more effectively. However, you should still work with HIIT programs as well. They will provide you with different advantages and benefits, and we’ll explore them further.

Benefits of HIIT

Improved Cardiovascular Health: Incorporating HIIT into your training programs will drastically improve your cardiovascular health, as this type of exercise elevates your heart rate and brings other health advantages.

Versatility: For those who don’t enjoy traditional and repetitive training sessions, HIIT is ideal for maintaining a dynamic workout program suitable for new and experienced gymgoers.

Fat Loss: Due to its high intensity and increased calorie expenditure, losing fat percentage is one of the main advantages you’ll notice as time progresses.

Drawbacks of HIIT

Risk of Injury: HIIT workouts often involve quick and intense movements, and the risk of injury can increase compared to other workout programs.

Recovery Time: High-intensity interval training programs require enormous energy and strength, so after a HIIT session, you should take a break and let your muscles rest appropriately before the following workout routine.

Limited Muscle Hypertrophy: HIIT workouts can help improve muscle mass and volume in some ways. However, utilizing HIIT as a strategy to gain volume is not optimal.

person doing jump squats

Benefits of Traditional Weightlifting

Hypertrophy: By properly performing traditional weightlifting exercises and pushing yourself to the limit, you can muscle hypertrophy weightlifting and start noticing results quickly.

Bone Density: Indeed, weight-bearing workouts, such as weightlifting, increase bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. 

Strength: The proper weightlifting technique strengthens the muscles around the joints, enhancing weightlifting and reducing the risk of injury.

Drawbacks of Traditional Weight

Weightlifting is time-consuming: Compared to regular HIIT exercises, traditional weights can take longer to be functional and practical for weightlifting purposes.

Need for Equipment: Most traditional weightlifting practices involve equipment usually found at gyms, making it weightlifting for gymgoers who prefer to train at home to have complete and functional workout sessions.

Cardiovascular Benefits: Compared to HIIT training programs, traditional weightlifting does not help improve cardiovascular health as much as it burns fat and calories.

Factors that Influence Muscle Building with Both HIIT and Strength Training

Besides external factors that we’ll discuss later, internal factors in your training sessions can also contribute to your fitness goals. That is why we suggest planning and executing a functional training program along with a trainer. However, there are tips we can provide you to make your training experience more enjoyable and suitable for your personal needs:

Workout Intensity

The intensity of the workout you perform is an essential element to consider. The more intense the workout, the more effective the results will be. In high-intensity interval training, you can expect every exercise to be fierce and demanding, while traditional weightlifting can be more straightforward for you to perform. It all depends on the weightlifting you use to exercise and the number of series you do.

Type of Exercises

Remember that you will work in a specific muscle group in most exercises. Planning and structuring a fitness routine with your trainer is essential: deciding which exercises are the most suitable and aligning them with your personal fitness goals and level.


Consistency is critical to achieving every single fitness goal you want to achieve; try to follow your working time and schedules as planned with their accurate resting times. That way, you will feel great and start seeing optimal results in your fitness and health.

External aspects must also be considered in addition to the workout performance you follow in your fitness routines. Just like everything else, muscles need time to recover after a hard training session. It’s not just about taking breaks between workouts; diet and a good night’s sleep will also contribute to your overall fitness goals.

Work with your trainer or a professional nutritionist for a proper diet. However, if your goal is to gain muscle strength and volume, food that contains high protein levels, such as fish, chicken, and eggs, will be essential. Protein helps you grow and repair your muscles, as it contains high levels of amino acids necessary for synthesizing new muscle tissue.

Likewise, carbohydrates will be essential in your nutritional plan, as they help replenish glycogen stores, the primary energy source for muscles during intense exercise sessions. Consuming food rich in carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables, and legumes, will give you the necessary carbohydrates to gain sustained energy and other essential nutrients.

Lastly, consuming healthy fats will improve your overall performance in your working sessions. Healthy fats contain nutrients that encourage hormone production, including testosterone, essential for muscle growth. Avocados, olive oil, nuts, and fatty fish are foods containing healthy fats that will help you achieve your desired fitness goals.

person flipping tire

HIIT Exercises to Build Muscle

To build muscle, there are specific exercises that you need to include in your HIIT performance and workouts; here’s a list that might be useful for you:

Jump Squats

Jump squats are a perfect match to combine with hiit workouts. Combining the traditional squat movement with an explosive jump helps target other muscles like the glutes, quadriceps, calves, and hamstrings.

Push Ups

Push-ups are one of the most essential and complete exercises to perform in your routine. In addition to gaining definition, they are ideal for improving the strength of your shoulders, chest, core, and triceps.


Burpees are a full-body exercise that combines the movements of a push-up, squat, plank, and jump into one movement. They are particularly effective in improving overall strength and cardiovascular endurance.

Dumbbell Thrusters

Dumbbell thrusters target mainly the core, legs, and shoulders. Hold your dumbbells at shoulder height, then perform a squat and, as you go up, place the dumbbells overhead, all in one fluid movement. This exercise is practical for strengthening your upper and lower body and, simultaneously, a challenging cardiovascular workout.

Mountain Climbers

Mountain climbers are exercises that engage your core, legs, and shoulders and elevate your heart rate simultaneously. For a more effective result, the best way to perform this exercise is to engage your core and maintain a fast pace in the movements.

Pull-ups or Jumping Pull-ups

Pull-ups or jumping pull-ups are ideal exercises to add to your working program if you aim to strengthen your arms, shoulders, and back. They will also help you enhance your grip endurance and overall body strength.

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