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Fat Loss

Is HIIT More Effective Than Heavy Weightlifting For Fat Loss?

By Jeremiah Bair on Apr 27, 2018 9:44:00 PM
3 Minutes Reading Time

HIIT (high intensity interval training) VS. lifting heavy weights.

Which is best for fat loss?


How Can It Be Both?

It depends on where you’re at in your training career, and what type of training you’ve been doing recently.

HIIT burns more calories than a traditional heavy weightlifting session. More calories burned = more fat lost.

Case closed then, right?

Not so fast.

Heavy weightlifting is much more effective at helping you build muscle. The more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism will be. Faster metabolism = less body fat.

So, the confusing answer: both have their applications for fat loss.


This style of training is great for short periods of time, IF strictly burning as much fat as possible is your goal.

Scenario 1: You have a Caribbean vacation coming up in a few weeks. You’ve put in the work, building muscle in the gym the last few years. Now you want to get shredded to the bone. But you still have fat to lose. Perfect time to introduce some HIIT.

Scenario 2: You’ve never lifted a weight before. You’re skinny-fat. You decide to start your training career off with some high intensity interval training to shed your skinny fatness. Awful time to introduce HIIT.

Scenario 1: could benefit from HIIT, because they already have appreciable muscle mass. When they shed the remaining body fat, they look lean and muscular.

Scenario 2: won’t benefit much from HIIT. Being skinny-fat comes from having very little muscle.

Trying to burn as many calories as possible is a SHORT-TERM solution to fat loss. You will lose a bit of fat. But, with HIIT style training, you won’t build near as much muscle as is doable with a heavier lifting routine.

Building strength/muscle to increase metabolic rate is a LONG-TERM solution to fat loss. You don’t have to try to “exercise off all your calories MANUALLY”. Building more muscle makes your body burn more calories AUTOMATICALLY.

If you’re experienced in the gym, have a decent amount of muscle, and want to shed some body fat: feel free to incorporate HIIT. It’ll help. Just don’t make strictly HIIT style training your focus for too long. Your body will adapt to training like this, minimizing most of the benefits.

If you’re new to the gym, and your primary goal is fat loss: focus on building as much strength as possible. Master these movement patterns:

  1. Hip hinge
  2. Squat
  3. Horizontal pull (Row)
  4. Overhead press
  5. Vertical pull
  6. Horizontal push

Eat in a calorie deficit. Figure out your nutrition. Build a good muscle/strength foundation. Once you have these mastered, incorporate HIIT if you like.

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Jeremiah Bair

Jeremiah is an ACSM certified Personal Trainer from Nebraska. He also has a Business Management Degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Over the last few years of his career as a personal trainer, he has fallen in love with the way fitness allows him to connect with people. Nothing is more rewarding to him than helping others transform into happier, more confident versions of themselves. His goal is to share his knowledge to help as many as possible lead long, healthy, and fulfilling lives.

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