During the high interval phase, can I do it in a high intensity but low resistance? or the resistance should be also high to be more effective in fat burning?

I've been doing HIIT on elliptical machine and after 5 to 8 cycles of work I felt my legs are sore and couldn't finish the whole workout anymore. Plus I don't want to develop or have huge muscle on my legs, thigh.

So can I do the high intensity phase at a fast speed but low resistance? Will it still be called HIIT? Will the fat burning process still be effective?

  • High resistance cardio HIIT training will not give you huge muscle volume. Don't worry about that.
    – Felix L.
    Oct 23, 2015 at 15:41
  • You won't develop huge legs, don't worry. It took me 6 years of HIIT and Tae Kwon Do at 3 times a week in my youth to develop big legs. You won't "accidentally Arnold".
    – John
    Oct 17, 2016 at 7:23

1 Answer 1


Per Wikipedia the defining factors for HIIT are short periods of intense exercise interspersed by periods of more moderate exercise. Depending on the exercise(s) you choose there does not have to be any resistance. For example at my amateur boxing club we will:

  • Skip rope normally for 15 seconds, then skip while running in place with high knees for 15 seconds. Repeat 6 times.
  • Similarly, shadow box at a normal rate for 15 seconds and then throwing punches as fast as you can for 15 seconds. Repeat 6 times.
  • Do a series of calisthenic exercises (e.g. high knees in place, pushups, situps, burpees, squat jumps, leg lifts), 15 or 30 seconds each, for a total of 3 minutes and then rest for 1 minute. Repeat once.

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