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The Best HIIT Workout for Muscle Building


Have you ever found yourself wishing for a way to build muscle, get stronger, and boost your cardiovascular fitness, all in one workout? You might be in luck.

While HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) workouts are often associated with fat loss and cardio, they can also be a secret weapon for muscle growth too. Read on to discover how HIIT can help you pack on muscle mass while also boosting your cardiovascular health. 

Can You Build Muscle With HIIT Workouts?

HIIT is well known for its excellent cardiovascular benefits and is a popular workout style for those looking to improve their fitness and burn fat – you can read more about the benefits of HIIT here.

However, HIIT is often overlooked when it comes to building muscle. Traditional strength training with progressive overload is still the most effective approach for muscle hypertrophy, but HIIT can contribute to a muscle-gaining programme thanks to the following benefits:

  • Metabolic stress. HIIT workouts create metabolic stress on the muscles. This stress can stimulate the release of anabolic hormones including those responsible for growth, helping to support muscle gain and repair.

  • Fast-twitch muscle fibre activation. HIIT workouts often involve explosive movements, like plyometric exercises, that recruit fast-twitch muscle fibres. In addition to improving speed and power, fast-twitch muscle fibres have a higher potential for muscle growth than slow-twitch fibres.

  • Increased calorie burn. HIIT workouts typically burn a significant amount of calories during and after the session thanks to the high intensity nature and metabolic demands. This can be helpful both for those who want to lose fat to enhance their muscle definition, or those who want to maintain their weight while building muscle, as it creates a calorie deficit which allows for more food and nutrients to be eaten, which can fuel muscle growth.

Combining HIIT & Resistance Training For Muscle Growth

While HIIT can be beneficial for building muscle, resistance training is the most effective style of training when it comes to muscle gain. Combining both into your training is a great way to build muscle while also improving strength, endurance, power, speed, and cardiovascular fitness.

If you’re looking for advice on weight training to build muscle, PureGym PT Spencer Cartwright has created a free workout plan for gaining muscle here.

The Best HIIT Workout For Gaining Muscle

This full body HIIT workout combines explosive exercises and compound movements, engaging multiple muscle groups for an effective workout that will keep your heart rate high, stimulate muscle growth, improve strength and power, and increase metabolic demand, in just 30 minutes (plus a warmup and cool down).

To get the most out of this workout, make sure you are putting maximum effort into the working intervals and resting fully in the rest intervals.

Build Muscle With HIIT

Warm up: 5-10 minutes

Warming up prepares the body for a workout by warming up the muscles and increasing the heart rate. You can warm up with 5-10 minutes of light cardio, or with 5 minutes of cardio followed by 5-10 minutes of dynamic exercises. Learn more about how to warm up here

Main workout: 21-27 minutes

Perform each exercise for 45 seconds, followed by a 15 second rest. Once you have completed a full circuit, rest for 1 minute before repeating for 3-4 rounds.

  1. Burpees

    Burpees are a firm favourite with fitness fans, as this full-body compound movement engages your chest, shoulders, arms, core, glutes, and legs. The explosive jump at the end of each repetition also helps to build power and strength while encouraging muscle growth.

    Start in a standing position, then squat down and place your hands on the ground in front of you. Kick your feet back into a push-up position, perform a classic push-up, and then quickly jump your feet back into the squat position. Jump energetically into the air, raising your arms overhead. Repeat.

  2. Renegade rows

    Renegade rows combine two strength building exercises, planks and dumbbell rows, for a challenging exercise that works the upper body and core, fatigues the muscles, and builds endurance.

    Adopt a high plank position while gripping a dumbbell in each hand, shoulder-width apart. Engage the core and drive the left dumbbell firmly into the floor, then pull your right elbow back and up to row the right dumbbell up to your ribs. Lower the dumbbell back to the floor and repeat on the other side.

  3. Squat to overhead press

    The squat to overhead press combines squats with a dumbbell shoulder press, working multiple large muscle groups to build mass and burn calories.  In addition to building full body strength, squat to overhead presses improve power, balance, and coordination.

    Stand with feet between hip and shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand by your shoulders. Lower your hips down and back into a squat position, then drive through your heels back up to standing. As you stand, push the dumbbells up above your head by extending the arms straight. Lower the dumbbells back to shoulder height and repeat.

  4. Kettlebell swings

    Kettlebell swings are a full-body exercise that engages multiple muscle groups, including the glutes, hamstrings, core, shoulders, and back. It's a dynamic, high-energy and challenging movement that helps to build power and strength while keeping your heart rate high.

    Stand with your back straight and feet shoulder-width apart. Lower into a half-squat and pick up the kettlebell with both hands so your palms are facing your body.

    Keep your core tight and a slight bend in your knees as you straighten your legs, push from your heels and thrust your hips forward as you swing the kettlebell upwards to chest height. As you guide the kettlebell down between your legs, return to the half-squat position. That's one rep.

  5. Push ups

    Push-ups primarily target the chest muscles (pectoralis major and minor), shoulders (deltoids), and triceps. They also engage your core, back, and lower body muscles to stabilise your body during the movement. Push-ups are a classic compound exercise that can help build upper body strength and promote muscle growth.

    Start in a high plank position. Slowly bend your elbows and lower your chest towards the floor whilst keeping your body in a straight line. When your elbows are fully bent, press them into the floor to push yourself back to starting position. Make sure your abs are engaged and your spine is in a neutral position throughout the movement.

  6. Jumping lunges

    Jumping lunges are an energetic lower-body exercise that targets the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. The jumping action adds intensity and engages your fast-twitch muscle fibres, contributing to muscle development. As a unilateral exercise, lunges help improve balance, stability, and overall lower body strength.

    Starting in a lunge position with one leg forward, jump with as much power as you can, switching your legs mid-air and landing with your other leg forward. Continue alternating the lunge jumps for the duration of the exercise.

If you’d like even more inspiration for how to gain muscle mass and strength, you can check out our How to Build Muscle hub - there are plenty of tips, advice and workouts to try there, including this useful Weight Training for Beginners guideWe also provide more HIIT inspiration for men and women over on our HIIT hub, including this upper body HIIT workout

Getting started couldn’t be easier than with a PureGym membership - we offer a range of locations all across the UK with top-of-the-range fitness equipment to help you on your muscle-gaining journey. You can even book an appointment with one of our expert personal trainers - they’ll be able to give you all the advice and guidance you need to get strong. 

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