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What is HIIT Training and is it Better Than Running For Weight loss?

Last updated: June 7, 2022

When it comes to weight loss, you can benefit from any form of exercise, whether it’s going for a walk or doing a vigorous 2-hour long bike ride. However, certain activities may be better for burning calories fast and helping you build a leaner body. HIIT training, or high-intensity interval training, is an effective form of exercise that allows you burn calories quickly in a short period of time. It differs greatly from running, as it involves many short periods of rest versus a longer, extended period of endurance. However, both activities are highly productive ways to lose weight; it depends on your time commitment, fitness goals, and personal preferences.

What is HIIT Training?

HIIT training is a popular form of exercise that involves short, intense bursts of activity followed by low intensity recovery periods. During these short, vigorous periods, the goal is to get your heart rate up quickly, typically 80-90% of your max heart rate zone. Between each interval, you can do active rest, such as lightly jogging in place, or an easy spin on the bike.

HIIT workouts are an excellent way to break a sweat in a short amount of time. They are time-efficient workouts, since they typically last 10 to 30 minutes. Even though HIIT workouts are short, they can produce similar benefits to exercises that take longer, such as a steady bike ride or run. HIIT training typically involves sprinting, cycling, bodyweight exercises, jumping rope, and plyometrics. A HIIT workout might look like this: 20 minutes of cycling where you bike hard for 30 seconds at a high resistance, then 60s at a low resistance. Other popular HIIT exercises include burpees, air squats, jumping jacks, mountain climbers, and jump lunges.

The Benefits of HIIT Training

Burn Calories in a Short Amount of Time

If you’re a busy person who doesn’t have time for hour-long workouts, HIIT training is a fantastic way to burn calories quickly and get the same benefit as a long endurance workout. Because you are constantly getting your heart rate up into its max training zones, your heart rate stays significantly elevated, even during the active rest periods. This allows you to burn calories at a much higher rate.

Increase Your Metabolic Rate After Exercise

Even when you finish your HIIT workout, you can continue burning calories at a higher rate for hours after exercise. Studies show that HIIT results in one of the largest increases of REE, or resting energy expenditure post-exercise. Some studies have even shown that HIIT increases your metabolism after exercise more than running or weightlifting.

Reduce Blood Pressure and Heart Rate

It’s no secret that exercise is good for the heart. HIIT has many important health benefits, as it can decrease your blood pressure and blood sugar, and lower your resting heart rate. In a study on resting blood pressure in pre-hypertensive subjects, participants showed decreases in arterial pressure following 8 weeks of HIIT workouts.

Help You Lose Weight

HIIT is a great way to lose weight, as long as you’re committed to a weekly routine. HIIT workouts have been shown to reduce body fat and waist circumference, despite the short amount of time spent during these workouts. Like most workouts, it’s easier for overweight or obese populations to lose weight quickly with a consistent routine, but that’s not to say it can’t help you have off a few extra pesky pounds.

HIIT Vs Running For Weight Loss

If you’re choosing between HIIT training and running, neither activity is better than the other. It truly depends on your fitness goals and what activity you enjoy more. HIIT training is an excellent way to burn calories quickly while infusing variety into your daily workouts, while running is a great way to build lean muscle and improve cardiovascular output. Both activities are excellent ways to lose weight, increase oxygen consumption, and lower blood pressure.

Running is one of the top activities to lose weight, since it also burns calories at a high rate. Because you are using your entire body to move, running is more effective at burning calories than biking, swimming, or other non-impact activities. A 30-minute run will typically burn 300-500 calories, depending on your weight, fitness level, and pace. Running is also highly effective at helping build lean muscle for a sleek, toned look.

The one downside of running is that it’s a tougher sport on the body, since it is a high-impact activity. Running has a higher risk of injury compared to HIIT, since it involves a lot of pounding on the joints. If you have a history of injuries, or you're prone to joint pain, you may want to choose HIIT instead of running. Additionally, if you’re a busy person who doesn’t have time for 60-minute runs, HIIT is a shorter alternative for weight loss.


Can I do HIIT training every day?

HIIT is a safe, effective way to lose weight, but you actually don’t need to do it everyday. In fact, most trainers will recommend doing HIIT three times per week rather than every day to avoid burnout and fatigue. In between HIIT workout days, you can do light recovery exercise that keeps the blood flow moving, but doesn’t get you into a state of exhaustion.

Can I do HIIT training while pregnant?

Many doctors recommend avoiding HIIT workouts when pregnant, since they involve a lot of jumping and jarring motions that could strain your joints. However, you don’t have to completely cut out HIIT from your exercise routine; you can modify HIIT workouts to reduce impact on the joints. Most women can continue exercising as they normally did before they were pregnant without risk. It just might take a few modifications to make things feel more comfortable.

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