Should You Do HIIT Before Or After Weight Training?

HIIT exercise workout
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High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a cardio workout that has helped hundreds of people burn fat and take their bodies to new fitness levels. This workout takes a shorter period of time and is preferable for those with busy schedules. Basically, during a HIIT workout, you alternate between quick, intense bursts of activity followed by fixed rest periods.

While HIIT does have its advantages, many people wonder whether they should get it done before or after their weight training sessions. Is there any difference between doing a HIIT workout before or after lifting weights? Does running form really matter for HIIT? Does the order of the workouts matter? I aim to answer these questions.

Understanding How Your Body Burns Energy

In order to answer those questions, we first have to understand how the body burns energy. Whenever we eat carbohydrates, our body changes it to glucose, which can be easily converted into energy. Excess glucose is then stored in form of glycogen in the muscles and liver, and some is also stored in the blood. Whenever the body’s energy demand increases, the glycogen is broken down again to glucose and used to fuel the body’s activities.

Some people argue that getting in a good HIIT cardio workout before lifting weights is a good way to warm up the muscles. This might be true but let’s take a look at what goes on in the body. When you start with a HIIT workout, your muscles use up all the glycogen stores, leaving them depleted.

So, when you come to pumping iron, you’ll find yourself significantly weaker. This presents a problem, especially if your main workout goal is to build mass and muscle.

When You Should Do HIIT Workouts

The other scenario — weight training before HIIT — is much better. You start with a weighted workout when you’re at your best, meaning you can give it maximum effort. Your muscles again burn through the glycogen stores to get energy.

When you move on to your HIIT workout, your body is then forced to turn to the fat stores to get the energy it needs. This way, you end up burning body fat at a more efficient and increased rate. You’ll find it much easier to build muscle and get rid of stubborn body fat.

The One HIIT Exception

If you really have to do your HIIT workout before weight training, schedule your sessions at least a couple of hours apart e.g., do your HIIT in the morning or early afternoon and lift weights in the evening. Doing this allows your body to recover sufficiently since you’ll have time to eat and refuel in between sessions.

It’s also important to stay hydrated and get sufficient protein intake between your workouts to keep you in top condition.