Are HIIT Workouts good for Bodybuilders and Strength Athletes?

Written by the Boostcamp staff
Apr 12,2024|10 min| 366

Are HIIT workouts beneficial for people trying to get big and strong?

When it comes to building muscle mass and strength, you typically do not think of adding high intensity interval training into your workout routine. When it comes to lifting styles, bodybuilders and strength athletes like powerlifters typically have a larger focus on resistance training with a minimal focus on cardio, and when they do cardio it is more than likely steady state interval training (with the exception of when a bodybuilder is cutting down for a show and trying to get to minimal body fat levels). That being said, what about HIIT workouts for bodybuilders and strength athletes? Are they beneficial? 

Let’s dive in and take a look at what HIIT workouts are, and if they are beneficial for bodybuilders and strength athletes such as powerlifters and Olympic Weightlifters.

What is HIIT Training?

HIIT training is short for “high intensity interval training”, which may not be something that everyone is familiar with. HIIT training is designed to take your cardiovascular workouts to another level. You can use HIIT with any type of cardio workout no matter what it is. HIIT workouts are great for things like running, using a stair climbing machine, rowing, or jumping rope.

HIIT workouts will have you increasing your heart rate and working up a sweat fast, as you will be working out at a very intense level for a set amount of time, and then backing off for a slower recovery period, followed by another round of high intensity.

Benefits of HIIT Workouts

There are plenty of benefits that come associated with HIIT workouts. One of them is that this strategy can save you time, meaning you don't have to work out as long as you would to burn more calories if you were keeping a steady pace. 

With HIIT workouts, you can expect some major composition changes if you stick with it. For one, you’ll lose weight, body fat in particular. But, you do not have to worry about losing muscle mass, because HIIT workouts can actually help you build muscle. They also help you to boost your metabolism. 

Examples of a HIIT Workout

Let’s take a look at how HIIT workouts actually work, meaning what exactly the workouts include. There are two different ways to go about these types of workouts, which are aerobic and anaerobic. 

  • For Aerobic Fitness: The intervals with this style of workout would typically involve a work to rest ratio or 1:1 or 1:2, meaning you would workout for 30 seconds and rest for 30 seconds, or workout for 30 seconds and rest for 60 seconds.

  • For Anaerobic Fitness ( which is sport-specific training for power and explosiveness): The rest intervals of this training style are often longer to allow for a more maximal effort during the working periods, and often you will be resting at least a 1:5 ratio. For this you could work for 15 seconds then rest for 75 seconds. This is less commonly practiced in group fitness scenarios.

Do HIIT Workouts Benefit Bodybuilders?

Bodybuilding is a sport that requires the bodybuilding athletes to be as low in body fat as possible, while preserving as much muscle mass as they can. Since HIIT workouts burn fat and help to build and maintain muscle mass, they are absolutely beneficial for bodybuilders.

Are HIIT Workouts Good for Powerlifters and Strength Athletes?

Powerlifters focus on the big three compound lifts meaning the barbell squat, the bench press, and the deadlift. Other strength sports such as Olympic lifts and strongman will focus on other lifts like the clean and jerk, but they still do accessories. While losing body fat is not necessarily a goal of strength athletes, having a healthy heart is something that everyone can benefit from. Not only that, but HIIT workouts lower blood pressure and increase oxygen consumption. 

HIIT workouts also increase explosiveness, which can be very beneficial for powerlifters and strength athletes, as they are working to lift weight and perform well. So when it comes to if HIIT workouts are beneficial for powerlifters and strength athletes, the answer is yes, but more from a health and performance standpoint rather than aesthetics. 

How Often Should You do HIIT Workouts?

HIIT workouts are going to take a lot out of you and be very difficult on the body, meaning you do not want to do them every single day. You need to allow the body enough time to recover in between each training session, so doing HIIT workouts 3 times a week is what the often recommended number is. 

Finding Good Workout Programs

When looking for a program to use while you are trying to incorporate HIIT workouts into your schedule, you can surely get a run of the mill workout program that a regular trainer will charge you a crazy amount for, and you may not even get good results. But keep in mind that there are plenty of good programs available on Boostcamp to accompany your HIIT workout routine and help you make progress with your cutting or bulking or maingaining. A good program will keep you on track, making sure that you are making the most gains and maximizing your time in the gym. If you are looking to stay on track and continue with linear progression with your barbell squat, then finding a good workout program is the key. 

Boostcamp houses over 50 FREE workout programs that help with strength, hypertrophy, or functional fitness, or both, from the push pull legs program all the way to upper lower, there are so many programs to choose from that can help fit your needs. However, with Boostcamp, you don’t have to just follow a pre-written program (although each program is written by a professional), you also can create your own program as well, and track your progress to make sure you are on the right track. That being said, when you are looking to incorporate some serious training to further your progress on your squat by bodyweight, then check out Boostcamp.

HIIT for Bodybuilders and Strength Athletes Wrap Up

Overall, HIIT workouts are a great way to burn fat, build and maintain muscle, and keep your heart healthy. That being said, these workouts are great for bodybuilders and powerlifters. 

Will you be incorporating them into your routine? Let us know! Also, be sure to follow Boostcamp on Instagram and subscribe on YouTube!