Want to build muscle without getting fat? Tired of bulking and cutting? Then it’s time to tweak your workout! Forget about steady state cardio and HIIT the gym hard! With high intensity interval training, you can build the body you’re after and stay lean year round. Unlike traditional cardio, HIIT burns fat and preserves muscle. When combined with heavy lifting, its benefits are even greater.
Get Leaner and Stronger the Smart Way
Most bodybuilders go through cutting and bulking cycles to pack on muscle. Bulking in the off season helps increase muscle size and strength, boosts your anabolic hormones, and improves overall performance. However, it also adds inches to your waistline and promotes fat storage. To build muscle, it’s necessary to eat more calories than you burn. Inevitably, this leads to an increase in body fat levels. When you start cutting, the fat melts off. At this point, your goal should be keep at much muscle as possible.
Unfortunately, some folks gain 20 pounds or more when bulking. It’s not unusual for bodybuilding pros to look fat in the off season. The more fat you gain, the harder it is to get lean later on. Cardio is not an option because of its catabolic effect. Most fitness models and bodybuilders skip cardio altogether in the off season. This training method burns both muscle and fat, causes fatigue, and increases cortisol levels. Additionally, it can decrease testosterone production and slow your metabolism. Studies indicate that steady state cardio can reduce the ability of muscles to absorb glucose after exercise.
High Intensity interval Training, on the other hand, maintains lean mass and boosts your metabolic rate. A typical session only lasts for 10-15 minutes and alternates between intense bursts of exercise and recovery periods. Tabata, a popular HIIT routine, takes just four minutes to complete. With high intensity interval training, it’s no need to worry about muscle loss.
This training method is far superior for fat loss compared to steady state cardio. A 2004 study has found that gym goers who did HIIT for 15 weeks lost more body fat than those following a conventional cardio routine for 20 weeks. This is quite surprising considering that HIIT takes only a few minutes a day. Other studies indicate that tabata is more effective at increasing fitness conditioning compared to traditional cardio.
What makes HIIT so great is the afterburn effect, also known as EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). This training method elevates your metabolism and raises heart rate up to 90 percent of its maximum. As a result, you’ll keep burning calories long after finishing your workout. Compared to steady state cardio, HIIT places a greater demand on the anaerobic energy pathways during exercise, causing your body to use more oxygen after training. When you’re doing traditional cardio, your body relies on oxygen, so there is no afterburn effect.
Is HIIT a Good Choice While Bulking?
High intensity interval training is a favorite choice for fitness pros worldwide. It not only improves maximal oxygen consumption, but also keeps your body in an anabolic state and torches fat. Even though cardio burns more calories, far breakdown is greater when you’re training at high intensity. Research shows that 10 minutes of HIIT burn the same amount of calories as 50 minutes of conventional cardio.
The benefits of high intensity interval training go beyond a lean body. This workout method promotes health and well-being, supports cardiovascular function, and lowers cholesterol levels. It’s particularly effective for those with high blood pressure, insulin resistance, or diabetes.
In clinical trials, gym goers who followed a HIIT program experienced improvements in blood pressure, stroke volume, resting heart rate, and blood lipid profile. Additionally, HIIT doesn’t raise the stress hormone cortisol levels nor cause fatigue. Due to its short duration, it appeals to those with a busy lifestyle.
Whether you’re bulking or cutting, HIIT should be on your list. When you’re eating a lot of calories, the excess will be stored as fat. Without some form of cardio, it’s easy to pack on pounds. HIIT can improve your gains, strengthen the heart muscle, and increase endurance. The only downside is that it may slow down your recovery. However, you can always take protein, BCAAs, glutamine, and other supplements that promote muscle repair.
When to Do HIIT While Bulking?
If your goal is a lean bulk, add HIIT to your routine. This allows you to build muscle size and strength with minimum fat. As long as your diet and workout plan are in check, muscle loss shouldn’t be in issue. Depending on your preferences, you can do HIIT before or after strength training.
Both forms of exercise burn fat and glycogen. When you’re lifting weights, your muscles are using stored glycogen for fuel. An intense workout will deplete your glycogen stores. If you do HIIT afterwards, you’ll burn fat, not glycogen. This will help you stay lean. Doing HIIT right before weight lifting will drain your energy and deplete the glycogen stored in your liver and muscles. Thus, you’ll lack the strength needed to push through those last few reps.
To sum up, do HIIT after strength training to burn more fat and have maximum energy for heavy lifting. If you have time, you can split up your weight training and cardio. Many athletes do HIIT first thing in the morning and lift weights later in the day, which is perfectly fine. However, this may not be an option for the average person trying to juggle a full-time job with training and family life. Or you can lift weights four times a week and do HIIT on your off training days.
Although you can’t build muscle and lose fat at the same time, HIIT can keep you lean. This training method is ideal while bulking as it boosts your metabolism and improves physical performance. Due to its intense nature, three weekly sessions are more than enough. Just like any other exercise, HIIT puts stress on your system, so you need time to recover.