Is HIIT Training The Same As Strength Training

When I am talking to people about training and the gym they keep talking about strength training and HIIT training and how great they both are, and they are not wrong. I don’t want to get too nerdy here but what HIIT stands for is High Intensity Interval Training, but 9 times out of 10 it just gets people just think of cardio exercises like kettle bell swings and sprints.

But when we look at what HIIT actually is strength training is considered another form of HIIT training. This is because when we really look at strength training all it is lifting really heavy weights at high intensity with rests in between each sets, or in other words intervals aka High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).

barbell on the floor
Photo by Leon Ardho on

What Do We Think HIIT Training Is

During a typical HIIT session, the exercises are performed at a high intensity, pushing your heart rate close to its maximum capacity. These exercises can vary and may include activities such as sprinting, jumping jacks, burpees, mountain climbers, or even weightlifting exercises like kettlebell swings or squat jumps.

HIIT workouts are characterized by their time-efficient nature. A typical session may last anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes, making it an ideal choice for individuals with busy schedules. The short durations of the high-intensity exercises are alternated with recovery periods, allowing your body to catch its breath before diving into the next round of intense activity.

One of the primary advantages of HIIT training is that it can be adapted to suit a wide range of fitness levels and goals. Whether you’re a beginner looking to kickstart your fitness journey or an experienced athlete seeking to enhance your performance, HIIT workouts can be tailored to meet your specific needs.

However, it’s important to note that HIIT training is highly demanding on the body, so it’s crucial to warm up properly and listen to your body’s limitations. It is always advisable to consult a healthcare professional or a certified trainer before incorporating HIIT into your fitness routine, especially if you have any pre-existing health conditions.

Here are 19 example cardio HIIT training routines

What Strength Training Typically Looks Like

When we think about strength training we think about lifting big weights a couple times then go to sleep for one hour and then do 1 more rep and repeat, and for the most part you are not wrong.

These sessions are designed to build strength muscle mass, and improve overall physical performance. Here is an outline of what a typical strength training session may look like:

  1. Warm-up: Every strength training session should begin with a warm-up to prepare the body for exercise. This could include light cardio exercises like jogging, cycling, or jumping jacks to increase heart rate and blood flow to the muscles.
  2. Dynamic stretching: After the warm-up, dynamic stretching exercises are performed to improve flexibility and mobility. This may include exercises such as leg swings, arm circles, or lunges.
  3. Compound exercises: Compound exercises, which involve multiple muscle groups, are often the main focus of a strength training session. Examples of compound exercises include squats, deadlifts, bench press, and push-ups. These exercises help to build overall strength and muscle mass.
  4. Isolation exercises: After completing compound exercises, isolation exercises are performed to target specific muscle groups. For example, bicep curls, tricep extensions, or leg curls are common isolation exercises. These exercises help to strengthen and define individual muscles.
  5. Progression and resistance: Throughout the session, the weight or resistance used in each exercise is gradually increased to challenge the muscles and promote growth. This progressive overload principle is essential for continued strength gains.
  6. Sets and repetitions: Strength training usually involves performing multiple sets of each exercise, with a certain number of repetitions in each set. The number of sets and repetitions can vary based on the individual’s goals and fitness level. Common ranges include 3-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions.
  7. Rest periods: Adequate rest periods between sets are important to allow the muscles to recover and regain energy. Typically, rest periods between sets range from 1-2 minutes, allowing enough time for recovery without losing momentum.
  8. Cool-down: Finally, it is important to cool down after a strength training session. This may involve light stretching exercises to help reduce muscle soreness and prevent injuries.

Remember, it’s always a good idea to consult with a qualified fitness professional before starting any new exercise program, especially if you are new to strength training. They can provide guidance on proper form and help design a program tailored to your specific goals and needs.

With a well-rounded strength training session, you can improve your muscular strength, enhance your overall fitness, and reap the numerous benefits of regular strength training.

If you are a beginner at strength training here is a great article!

man and woman holding battle ropes
Photo by Leon Ardho on Example of great HIIT Training exercise

How Should You Train

Now that you know what we think HIIT training looks like and what strength training looks like, but how should you train.

Well that really depends on you, you really have to ask yourself what do you want to achieve. If the answer to that question is to improve cardio and improve overall athleticism then you might want to do HIIT cardio training.

But if you want stronger and build muscle then strength training is where it is at, in saying that your goals does not have to be one or the other you can easier do a combination of both.

But if your goals are different from some of what I said you might want to look at a different type of training, there is a million forms of training out there from hypertrophy training, training for combat sports, or rock climbing.

So how you want to train really just depends on you.


To recap though strength training and HIIT training is technically the same thing most people put them in two different categories. With strength training being lifting around heavy weights, and HIIT training being seen as explosive cardio training such as sprints and explosive box jumps.

But it is not up to me to tell you which one you should train because at the end of the day the way you should training depends on you and your goals.

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