Background of HIIT

High intensity interval training (HIIT) is generally performed by sprinting close to maximum capacity followed by rest. The process is repeated several times. Proponents of HIIT say that it burns more fat than steady state cardio, because the resting metabolic rate is increased after a session of HIIT, which leads to burning additional calories even after the HIIT session.


The procedure of HIIT sounds quite similar to weightlifting. If you just replace sprinting with lifting weights, all the other steps are the same. Performing a weightlifting set to failure is also considered pushing oneself to maximum capacity. People also rest in between sets. This makes me wonder why articles on HIIT always suggest sprinting and never even mention that weightlifting as a form of HIIT. Well, is it? Can weightlifting also give you the same increased RMR as well as traditional sprinting HIIT?

  • not a duplicate, but related fitness.stackexchange.com/a/19117/7091
    – Eric
    Commented Feb 15, 2015 at 3:58
  • HIIT is not just about sprinting. HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. Many exercise programs can performed with High Intensity Intervals, whether it is spinting, cycling, swimming, boxing or circuit training. This q/a may give you additional HIIT info. Commented Feb 15, 2015 at 6:20

2 Answers 2


Lifting for optimal weight/muscle gain is not optimal for burning calories or building endurance.

If your goal is to burn more calories, run. Running can burn up to 1000 kcal/hour at best, you'll never reach those kinds of numbers weight lifting, even considering that weight lifting increases your metabolism for a long time.

It should also be noted that we have many different capacities to be maxed out. Doing wrist curls to failure won't make you a marathon runner.

It is possible to burn a lot of calories using weight lifting equipment, with programs like crossfit, and it can be a good overall workout, but doing a lot of complex lifts will always increase the likelihood of injury.

I'm also a bit skeptical about saying that a workout burns fat. Jogging for an hour will use fat, yes, but it will also decrease fat usage during the rest of the day and will make you hungrier as well. Fat is used and stored during every second of every day. What matters for total fat loss is the different between the energy you use and what you eat.


Lifting heavy weights is classed as an anaerobic exercise, so yes it does have similar benefits to your metabolism.

I think that weight lifting is never mentioned as HIIT method is because it's not really considered to be cardio, it's usually labeled separately in a different category. However, if you've ever lifted heavy on a compound movement with intensity, you'll have felt your heart beating and you might be short of breath, so it is a form of cardio really - it's just usually not thought of as 'cardio' so not mentioned in discussions of HIIT.

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