Strength Training Vs. HIIT: Which Workout Is Best For You?

strength training vs HIIT

Are you new to fitness? Want to start a workout program but you keep getting stuck on the benefits of strength training vs. HIIT (high intensity interval training)?

Both strength training and HIIT have their unique benefits, but one type of workout might be better suited for you depending on your fitness goals. Let’s review the differences and similarities of strength training and HIIT to help you choose which is best for you.


There’s no argument that strength training and HIIT are great for your fitness levels, but they do have some differences that may sway you to one or the other.

Focus: While strength training does support fat burning, cardio vascular health, and mobility, HIIT workouts are better at it. HIIT also triggers higher levels of excess post-oxygen consumption or EPOC, which is the afterburn effect that keeps burning calories for hours after you finish the workout. And while HIIT does help with muscle building, strength training is far better if you want serious size.

Equipment: Strength training requires a few pieces of equipment, most notably a bench, barbell, and dumbbells. For most HIIT workouts, you only need your bodyweight and enough space to perform a push-up. This makes HIIT workouts far more convenient than strength training.

Time: A typical strength training workout will take around an hour to complete while a HIIT workout can be wrapped up in around 20 minutes or less. The length of time if take to perform individual exercises is different as well. For example, with strength training you have to focus on a prescribed tempo for lifting and lowering the weight, which is usually expressed in seconds as 2:0:2 (two second up, two seconds down). HIIT workouts are fast-paced, and exercises are performed in rapid succession without much time to rest.


Despite needing different equipment, time, and location to perform each type of workout, strength training and HIIT do have their similarities that will benefit your health.

Build Muscle: Both types of workout will help you to build muscle mass. Hypertrophy is the result of placing the right amount of stress on the muscle tissue to cause microtears that will be repaired to grow back bigger and stronger. Using progressive overload, strength training gives you the benefit of using more than 100% of your one-repetition maximum, resulting in huge leaps and bounds in muscle size. During a HIIT workout, you can change the tempo to increase difficulty, resulting in more lean tissue. You won’t get huge with HIIT, but you’ll definitely look lean and muscular.

Burn Fat: Physical activity burns calories, which can contribute to fat burning. The more lean muscle you have, the more calories you burn while at rest. Both strength training and HIIT support fat burning, but HIIT does so to a greater degree. Since you’re performing exercises in rapid fashion without much rest, you’ll have e a higher heart rate, burn more calories during the workout, and experience a greater level of afterburn or EPOC. HIIT workouts are also a great way to spot reduce fat.

To increase fat burning during strength training, use a shred belt.

Increase Performance: Strength training increases your ability to perform weight-bearing activities while it creates strong interworking relationships between the upper and lower body. HIIT helps improve agility, mobility, and endurance, resulting in faster times and better performance.

Overall Health and Wellness: Both of these forms of exercise are beneficial for your cardiovascular health and overall wellness. Strength training and HIIT have been shown to support brain health, improve mood, and increase longevity.


The short answer is both.

Ideally, your workouts should be based on a combination of strength training exercises and HIIT exercises. You can alternate the type of training from day to day, or you can follow a traditional strength training program and use HIIT as your cardio day workout.


Consider the following workout schedule to maximize lean muscle, endurance, and results:

Monday: Strength Training: Upper Body

Tuesday: HIIT Workout

Wednesday: REST

Thursday: Strength Training: Lower Body

Friday: HIIT Workout

Saturday: REST

Sunday: REST

Don’t have a HIIT workout? Read our article on HIIT workouts that can torch body bat and build muscle.

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