Does HIIT exercise build muscle?

HIIT is so effective in improving athletic performance, as well as shortcutting our journey towards optimal health – if performed correctly. When you are willing to put in the hard work, effort and intensity required for HIIT, you will receive the following benefits below:

Three ways in which sprints can change your athletic performance and physique.

  1. Sprints help to lose body fat and build muscle. Research on athletes who perform short, intense sprints at an interval pace, can produce significant anabolic hormonal responses that build muscle and lose fat. The potential to increase growth hormone and blood lactate means that it’s an exceptionally metabolically taxing method (short, intense sprints on and off), which can lead to fat loss over a while. It’s also a fierce metabolism booster and triggers the right hormones for building muscle and burning fat. The potential for an “afterburn” effect is the norm with this kind of intense training. Although the potential to build muscle mass is nothing like straight-up weight training, HIIT can be used as a means for fat burning and saving your already hard-earned muscle mass, whilst increasing it’s potential to enhance from your sprinting efforts.
  2. An Improvement in power, conditioning and the anabolic response. Peak power & anabolic conditioning is improved with shorter intervals, decreasing the resting potential in between. Athletes such as boxers, wrestlers and MMA fighters will do very well with this kind of protocol. The potential for building muscle and reducing body fat is enormous. A big plus for these athletes is diminishing body fat to cater towards their weight class – but not sacrificing the strength and muscular structure they need to perform optimally. Do try shorter, even more, intense intervals, and shave down your resting time. Your heart rate will not get a chance to get to baseline, leaving you open to a higher level of conditioning to maximise your power potential and lean muscular development.
  3. Endurance benefits – losing body fat, improving overall performance, and saving a heap of time. As an endurance athlete, you will significantly benefit from intervals. You want to be fast and strong at the same time. Therefore, this will be a key strategy. Again, this is great for producing lactate responses as well as your EPOC – the amount of energy burned during a 24 hour period that leads to more significant fat loss overall. Because most endurance athletes have to be lean, this kind of training will help you get their faster, without wasting too much time. It will also spare your muscle tissue, which will help you keep your strength levels high.

HIIT can benefit all kinds of athletes and anyone from the general public that wants to change their body shape put on some muscle and get leaner. But I do have to be honest and tell you when it comes to building muscle; you do still have to get into the weights room and pull in some effort there. Shortcuts to building muscle are not to be found anywhere else but with heavy lifting. So do spend most of your time on weights, and keep it separate from HIIT. 

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