When it comes to fitness, everyone has a certain goal they want to achieve. There are many different goals such as weight loss, cardiovascular fitness, muscle growth etc. HIIT is a highly popular way of working out which is great for the first two, but not so much for the last of the list i.e. muscle growth.
HIIT is perhaps the most popular form of working out these days. Due to the high demand of people wanting to lose weight, it’s popular because it’s the most effective and fastest way to shed loads of fat. The great thing about HIIT is that it can leave you exhausted and in a pool of your own sweat within minutes.
However, if you want to build muscle, then it’s not going to help you that much. You may see initial growth but that’ll eventually hit a dead end as well. If you live and die by HIIT, then you’ll need to change up your routine quite a bit in order to gain muscle. Here’s why HIIT just doesn’t work for gaining muscle:
You’re not able to lift to your max potential
HIIT is a highly exhausting way of exercise. It’s not only highly demanding of your body, but it also offers very little rest times. Therefore, when you’re in a HIIT workout, your body only gets a few seconds to rest which is not enough to gain back the strength to lift heavy. Due to this, you get tired out really quick and if you even try to lift heavy, your body is just not capable of doing it.
Instead, your body starts making compensations and that’s when poor form and injuries occur. Therefore, skip the HIIT session and focus more on load. Do the compound lifts and other lifting exercises, load up on the weights that you can handle and try to progressively overload each week. Only then will you start creating enough a load on your muscles that will get them to grow.
Too much= Excessive burn
This is something I’ve experienced personally when I went through my own weight loss journey. We all know that HIIT can burn a lot of calories. It’s also responsible for burning calories after a workout, which is also known as the afterburn effect. Therefore, when you do too much HIIT, you’re burning too many calories so your body uses the nutrients it would use for building muscle for energy instead.
In order to gain muscle, one must be at a slight caloric deficit or at a caloric surplus. Many people refer to their gain periods as their “bulk” periods where they eat at a slight surplus. If you do excessive HIIT, you’ll never be able to achieve that surplus and all those calories will be used for energy instead of repairing and building your muscles. Therefore, slow down on the HIIT and let your muscles grow.
Lack of rest for muscles
Most HIIT workouts are divided into circuits. These circuits are usually full-body circuits. Otherwise, they at least involve more than one or two muscle groups. When you do this, you’re not going to be able to do isolation work, which is a key component of building muscle.
Your muscles will never be able to get the rest they need if you’re constantly working them in your HIIT workouts nor will they get the isolated work required. Therefore, focus more on keeping one day aside for each muscle group and give each group an adequate time for rest.
To wrap it all up, you need to alter your workout regimen in order to gain muscle. You’ll need to cut down on HIIT, set different days for each muscle group, and try to get progressively overload each week. However, you don’t have to let go of HIIT altogether. You can still do a few minutes of HIIT after your main workout, twice a week. Therefore, you get the best of both worlds; you build muscle and maintain your cardiovascular endurance.