High-intensity interval training (HIIT) has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its numerous benefits, including its ability to help individuals maximize their workouts in a shorter amount of time. However, there has been some debate as to whether HIIT is just a form of cardio or if it offers additional benefits beyond that. In this article, we will explore this question in more detail.

What is HIIT?

Before we delve into whether HIIT is just cardio or not, let’s first define what HIIT is. HIIT is a form of exercise that involves short bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by periods of rest or low-intensity exercise. This cycle is repeated multiple times in a single workout, with the aim of getting the heart rate up and burning more calories in a shorter amount of time.

Is HIIT Just Cardio?

Many people assume that HIIT is just a form of cardio, but that is not entirely accurate. While HIIT does involve cardiovascular exercise, it can also involve strength training exercises. For example, a typical HIIT workout may involve a combination of exercises such as jumping jacks, squats, push-ups, and lunges, along with short bursts of cardio exercises like high knees or burpees.

The Benefits of HIIT Beyond Cardio

While HIIT can certainly have cardiovascular benefits, it offers other benefits beyond that as well. One of the biggest benefits of HIIT is its ability to increase the body’s metabolism, both during and after the workout. This is because HIIT workouts often involve high-intensity exercises that require the body to burn more calories to complete.

Additionally, HIIT workouts can also help to build muscle, which can further increase the body’s metabolism. This is because the short bursts of high-intensity exercise involve using the body’s own weight or resistance bands, which can help to build strength and muscle mass.

Examples of HIIT Workouts

To illustrate the point that HIIT is not just cardio, here are a few examples of HIIT workouts that incorporate both strength and cardio exercises:

Exercise Time
Jumping jacks 30 seconds
Squats 30 seconds
Push-ups 30 seconds
High knees 30 seconds
Lunges 30 seconds
Rest 30 seconds

Maximizing Your HIIT Workout

To get the most out of your HIIT workout, it is important to focus on proper form and to push yourself to your limits during each interval. This means going all out during the high-intensity exercises and using the periods of rest to recover before the next interval begins.

It is also important to vary the exercises and the length of the intervals to keep your body guessing and prevent boredom. This can help to keep you motivated and engaged in your workouts, which can lead to better results in the long run.


In conclusion, while HIIT does involve cardiovascular exercise, it is not just a form of cardio. HIIT workouts can incorporate both strength and cardio exercises, which can help to maximize your workout and offer additional benefits beyond just cardiovascular health. By focusing on proper form, pushing yourself to your limits, and varying your workouts, you can get the most out of your HIIT routine and achieve your fitness goals faster.