HIIT vs. Running – Which is Better for Weight Loss? Question Answered!

Jeff Baldelli
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What is HIIT?

HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training. It’s very different from traditional steady-state cardio, which is what you generally hear about when you’re trying to lose weight. But there has been a lot of debate about which is better for weight loss … HIIT or running?

The answer depends on your current workout preferences and lifestyle.

Running is the kind of cardio that people who don’t like lifting weights or following complicated workout routines prefer. When you run, you just work on one thing “ your ability to breathe and move your legs.

It’s easy to find time to squeeze in a run in the morning before work, or after dinner. If you have a job that keeps you busy during the day and you don’t have time to squeeze in a second workout in the day, then running is a good way to get your cardio in.

With HIIT, you are doing a type of resistance training combined with cardio. During a HIIT routine, you work hard for short periods of time and then take short breaks.

After a few weeks of doing HIIT four times a week, you will be very pleased with the results. You will lose body fat, gain muscle definition, and get stronger.

Pros of HIIT

When it comes to comparison between HIIT and running, there are many factors to consider. Here’s a quick list of the main ones:

Lower Amount of Time to Exercise Per Workout As mentioned before, the exercise involves less time compared to running at the same intensity. For instance, if you are running or Jogging at 70-75% of your maximum heart rate you can last for about 90-120 minutes. At the same intensity, HIIT lasts only for about 10-15 minutes. So if you value time and you don’t have enough time in the day, you might want to choose this type of workout.

How—The Method Works For Melt Fat And will you ask how does the method work? For any workout, the greater the intensity of exercise, the greater the amount of fat burned. HIIT create greater intensity when compared to slow running and walking. But even though it’s more time consuming at the same intensity, you can attain greater amount of fat, when doing HIIT in a short period of time.

High-Intensity Cardio Research with athletes has shown that HIIT is much more effective for getting fit. It helps you burn more calories than any other aerobic training. As compared to someone with similar weight and fitness level, the HIIT practitioner loses about twice as much fat and gain about twice as much muscle.

Cons of HIIT

While HIIT training has many benefits, some people find they can’t do it due to various reasons. For starters, it’s a way of exercising that’s very different from a moderate-intensity workout. You’ll need to spend a lot of your time learning proper techniques, learning what to do, and learning how to control it. You’ll also need to invest in the right gear, too. Of course, you can go online for different training programs, but this can also cut into your precious time.

Now, if you want to take a more scientific approach with a program designed for HIIT training, you’ll be forced to spend a lot of time learning how to do it and taking the right precautions. You’ll need to stay out of the sun, avoid sauna, and don’t engage in any strenuous exercises. You’ll also need to have everything else checked before engaging in the HIIT program, too.

Pros of Running

Vs. HIIT Workouts

While both running and HIIT have their benefits, it’s important to understand which workout is better for your individual needs.

Cardio Benefits

When you run, your body works harder to keep you going. Your heart rate increases as more blood is pumped to your muscles. When you begin sweating, your internal temperature goes up, burning more fat in the process. Since your body is working harder, it also means your metabolism is increased.

In a study, runners who did 150 minutes of running per week lost about three pounds. This was after a period of six months. The 30-minute HIIT group, however, was able to lose up to five pounds during the same period. That’s a bigger weight loss in less time!

Strengthens your Bones

Running is also a good workout to improve your bone density. Through a process called bone modeling, your bones form and become stronger as they create increased stress.

Improves your Response Times

Cons of Running

Exercise guruses include in their regimen quite a few cardiovascular exercises, and running is one of them. Running is often considered the key to weight loss, since it is one of the most time consuming forms of exercise. The point is that it burns a lot of calories. Moreover, we can burn calories even while talking a walk. But a person can walk for a long time without really suffering. Running, on the other hand, is rather strenuous, and it quickly tires a runner out. In the end, you may tire out before you have burned the desired number of calories.

As exercise gurus often mention, it is important to work out your whole body, including your core. While it is true that running burns a lot of calories, it does not really work your core. It is just your leg muscles that are active. So, if the essence of your workout is to lose weight, running is not your best option. If you want to strengthen your core, as well as your legs, you should consider swimming or bicycling.

Rather than burning calories, running is rather likely to reduce your overall energy. Most runners talk about the “runners’s high”, which would be the energy rush that runners feel. However, after running for a while, this feeling goes away.

What is Best for Beginners?

HIIT and running might both burn a ton of calories and help you lose weight, but which one should you pick?

Not sure which of these extreme exercises is right for you? Let’s look at how they stack up to each other.

The High-Intensity Burn

HIIT workouts typically include short bursts of high-impact cardiovascular exercises. They burn more calories in less time than traditional lifting sessions with weights, but most of the calories you’ll burn are from fat.

According to a study in the Journal of Applied Physiology, high-intensity exercises keep your heart beating faster for longer than lower-intensity exercises. To keep it going and stay in your target heart rate zone, you have to choose intervals that challenge you and keep you moving.

A good HIIT workout includes four four-minute intervals of fast-paced walking (sprinting, jogging, running, jumping rope, rowing, or cycling) followed by a four-minute active recovery period.

HIIT Workouts on “the Biggest Loser”

The extreme workouts you see contestants do on TV are nowhere near as intense as you’d think. In fact, they’re only 20% more intense than the exercises you can do right at home.

Is HIIT Better Than Running?

It’s commonly agreed that cardiovascular exercise is good for you, but when it comes to weight loss, aerobic exercise (such as running) and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) have different effects.

Running burns more calories overall, whereas HIIT burns more calories in the same time period, so HIIT can still help you lose weight, even if it requires more time and effort than simply running for exercise.

However, a study in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that HIIT results in extra shedding of visceral fat, the kind of dangerous fat around your stomach area that leads to Type 2 diabetes. Visceral fat is more dangerous than subcutaneous fat, which is the kind of fat stored under your skin… the kind that removes easily with things like liposuction.

The same study found that HIIT is actually better for improving your resting metabolic rate (how much energy your body needs to breathe and stay alive) more than running.

So if you decide to join the HIIT crowd, you’ll be doing yourself a total body favor.

Which is Better for Weight Loss?

HIIT or Running?

We all know how important it is to exercise regularly and exercise for a decent duration. But most of us struggle to find the time to do it in our busy lives.

Don’t fret, though! You can actually get a great workout in a short amount of time if you do interval training, also known as HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training). A HIIT workout doesn’t last many hours, and you can squeeze it into a spare half hour when you start your day.

What is HIIT Exercise?

In a HIIT workout, you alternate between high intensity and low intensity exercises with very short rest intervals in between. This means that you want to be working at your maximum effort. The chances are that you will feel like your body is working harder than ever during an HIIT workout.

The high intensity intervals last between 20 to 60 seconds, and the low intensity intervals equal to your recovery time between intervals are 60 to 90 seconds.

To understand HIIT, we need to talk a little bit more about the body. Your body has two energy systems: the phosphagen system, responsible for short bursts of energy, and the aerobic system, for longer training periods.

Do I Have to Choose Between Running and HIIT?

You don’t have to choose between running and HIIT for weight loss. Although they are both good options, they both offer different features. It all comes down to your goals, tolerance, and personal preferences.

But before we get into that, let’s take a look at how HIIT vs. running works.

Doing HIIT for weight loss can take you to “peak” condition. It’s an excellent way to get fit fast. This workout focuses on different levels of effort alternating between time periods of intense exercise and less-intense or rest periods.

You can focus on strength training, plyometric training, aerobics, and more. HIIT might be exactly what you’re looking for if you want a full body workout that can help you burn off those extra pounds.

However, some people just can’t stand contemplating the idea of working out on an intense level. They get exhausted after a few minutes and would prefer to do something less strenuous.

That’s where running comes in. Running can be a simple way to ease into a healthy pattern. You run for a bit and then you take a rest. It’s all about the simple, uncomplicated repetition of exercise.

Muscle balance

A toned and symmetrical body is the goal of any fitness routine. One of the key factors to achieving balance is muscle balance.

Muscles are either concentric (shorten) or eccentric (lengthen) and they are active or passive.

Concentric muscles go from a resting length to a shortened position. Relaxation does not occur.

Eccentric muscles go from a resting length to a lengthened position. Relaxation occurs.

If you have troubles keeping up with your exercise regimen, workouts that feature more eccentric suggestions may be easier for you to follow through with.

Because you are using your muscles like a crowbar to lengthen them, your muscles are constantly forced to relax meaning you’re more likely to have some sort of muscle or joint injury.

Concentric workouts are usually ideal for people who normally have a difficult time sticking to a regular workout routine. These types of workouts target the eccentric muscle group, which includes rolling, glute bridges and various yoga poses. No matter your fitness level, you can always challenge yourself with these types of exercises.

Active recovery

Burning unwanted fat

Tackling a couple of HIIT sessions a week is a very effective way to speed up weight loss and to improve your fitness levels. HIIT is ideal for burning calories because it burns calories both during exercise and for hours after the workout has finished. In fact, one study shows that HIIT may burn 10 times more fat than steady state cardio performed at a lower intensity. This is because steady state cardio relies on your body’s oxygen stores to fuel your muscles, and HIIT is fueled by your body’s ability to burn fat as energy. Your body needs to work harder to meet its energy demands. This allows more calories to be burned during your workout, and the fat being burned after the workout, by your muscles, is also increased. A HIIT workout’s “after burn” is six times greater than that of steady state cardio.

HIIT has also been shown to increase metabolism by an average of 15% for up to 24 hours after the workout.

Being able to use your body’s fat stores as a fuel source also increases the amount of time you can last without fuel by 50-100%. HIIT essentially gives you more fat-burning legs in a race! So it's no wonder HIIT is the preferred mode of cardio for so many professional endurance athletes.

Avoid boredom

When it comes to exercise, there is a simple recipe for frustration: doing the same exercise day-in and day-out. You start with high motivation, the music is cranked up loud, and you are on your way to sculpting that dream body. After a few weeks, however, you begin to dread the repetitive nature of your workout. If you don’t avoid boredom, you will start skipping workouts just to avoid the annoyance.

The solution lies in switching it up and mixing it up. Your body can get used to any repetitive routine, so you’ll need to change your exercise routine or even your entire workout plan every few weeks.

When you do a workout, you basically have three different muscle groups to choose from:

  • Upper body
  • Lower body
  • Core

Your body will soon get used to doing the same thing, so you may want to add variety by alternating body parts. For example, you could use the recumbent and upright bike and alternate legs.

There are many other ways to vary your routine, such as varying the speed, using different kinds of equipment or adding different types of strength training.


HIIT is very intense, so it’s important to build up slowly. I recommend doing 30 second sprints at first, and then 60 second sprints after you get used to that, and then 90 second sprints. It will take a lot of practice to be able to do the longer sprints. It’s a guaranteed challenge, but if you stick with it, you’ll be amazed at how fast you can improve, and how good it feels.

After every burst of exercise, you should give yourself a minute to recover so you can continue to use your fast twitch muscles.

I’m confident that as you practice, you’ll see the difference in the way you feel. As I mentioned earlier, I had joint pain for many years. When you do enough sprint training, your joints feel better. Even if your joints don’t hurt, you’ll feel better with more energy and endurance.

When you feel better physically and mentally, you’ll want to make better choices because it will just feel good. If you make your good choices a habit, you’ll be improving your health and fitness without even having to think about it.