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July 29, 2021 9 min read

When you work out hard and eat right, seeing results is often your main source of motivation. The physical results of working out hard are rewarding, satisfying, and even a bit addictive.

If you’re wanting to see results fast without having to put too much gym time in, look no further. 

HIIT training will have you sweating profusely, yet somehow wanting more. Whether you want to burn fat, get stronger, or feel better, HIIT is a great way to reach your fitness goals!

HIIT 101: The Basics

In case you aren’t familiar with HIIT, let’s first lay down the basics. HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training, a type of training formulated to encourage maximum energy output through small bursts of exercise followed by short periods of rest.

Black fit runner sprinting on a ramp at the beach

We often strive to be able to perform steady-state cardio workouts, such as continuously running several miles or biking at the same speed and resistance for many miles. Therefore, the idea of working out and stopping several times to rest may seem like an undesirable or lesser type of exercise.

However, you may be surprised at the numerous benefits and perks HIIT has over other types of exercise. HIIT is often categorized as a type of cardio. However, there are many elements of HIIT that also align with certain strength training principles. 

What Are Your Desired Results?

The term “results” is quite broad and very subjective. Your personal desired result from HIIT may be different than someone else’s. Your specific goal may require more or less time to reach. In order to know how long it may take to see results, you must first decide what it is from HIIT that you desire.

There are many benefits from HIIT and you can typically expect to see more than just one. Let’s first talk about the various results you may be able to achieve from HIIT training.

1. Weight Loss

Because it is cardio-oriented, HIIT can serve as a promising method for weight loss. Not only will it get your blood pumping and your heart rate up, but you’ll also work up a sweat and burn calories. In addition to weight loss in general, you can expect to see significant fat loss. 

2. Muscle Gain

In addition to weight loss, you can also use certain types of HIIT as a method for gaining muscular strength. This is especially true if your HIIT sessions incorporate resistance. Gaining muscle also aids in the process of weight loss and can enhance fat-burning.

3. Improve Your Range of Motion

Like many forms of exercise, HIIT is a great way to stretch the body and create better movement in the joints and muscles. When we are sedentary, we are prone to pain and injuries. Highly dynamic workouts like HIIT work to combat the effects of a sedentary life.

4. Endurance

Endurance is a highly sought-after goal in fitness. We run endless races, bike hundreds of miles of trails, and swim dozens of laps, all in the name of endurance. It’s tough, but most of all, it’s time-consuming and many people cannot commit to the amount of time needed for traditional forms of endurance training.

Luckily, HIIT exercise serves as a time-efficient way to boost endurance.You may be wondering how training that is made up of short bursts of energy can have anything to do with endurance.

Surprisingly, HIIT has been shown to boost endurance performance significantly.

5. Improve Overall Bodily Functions

If you’re not concerned with aesthetics, HIIT can still give you amazing results that you can feel. With HIIT, you can expect to feel a great improvement in your anaerobic and aerobic functions, as well as improved heart health. How will this translate into a result you can actually feel? Well, you’re likely to experience a boost in overall energy levels, athletic improvements, and even an elevated mood.

Other Factors

When striving for results from working out, there are a number of things to take into account when wondering what your timeline may be like. This includes your diet, the intensity of your workouts, your current fitness level, how much time you dedicate to HIIT, and the specific type of HIIT you do.


Your diet impacts your life much more than you may realize. Diet is obviously significantly responsible for physical appearance and physical health, but did you know that diet can also affect your mental health and mood?

Your diet also determines a lot when it comes to the results of your training. Staying in a calorie deficit will result in weight loss while maintaining a calorie surplus will cause weight gain.

If you’re hoping to see weight loss through HIIT, you need to be sure your diet and workout routine results in a calorie deficit. If you’re hoping to see muscular gains, you’ll need to eat more than your body uses to maintain its weight.

For the best results, pair HIIT with a high-protein diet. This ensures that your muscles are properly fueled for recovery and repair. Getting enough protein in your diet may seem impossible, especially since you should be aiming for about a gram of protein per pound of body weight.

A high-quality protein powder is your best friend when focusing on adequate protein intake. If you’re wanting to maintain your weight, you’ll need to keep your calories at maintenance by finding the balance between diet and exercise. 

Workout Intensity

The level of intensity of your workouts is very important to consider. Always remember that with tough work comes great reward. The nature of HIIT is high-intensity, but of course, this depends on what a high-intensity exercise is for you.  If you’re unsure, pretty much going as hard as possible in your HIIT training sessions is the best thing you can do when wanting to guarantee results.

With that being said, don’t be surprised if your first time doing HIIT lasts only five minutes before you tap out! Taking a few sessions to gradually increase your HIIT training time is perfectly normal.

Fitness Level

Believe it or not, beginners are in the best place for reaching their goals. Although beginners lack experience, they are shocking their bodies in a completely new way. This phenomenon is known as “newbie gains”.

This is not to say that if you’re experienced in the gym that you should expect a delay from your HIIT results. If you frequent the gym but are new to HIIT, you are still likely to see some newbie gains since you’re switching up your body’s routine.

Types of HIIT

The type of HIIT you do should fall in line with your specific goals. For example, if you’d like to use HITT for strength training, you need to do resistance-based HIIT. Here are some of the various types of HIIT workouts:


Tabata is a bodyweight version of HIIT that focuses on specific time increments of 20-seconds of movement followed by 10-second rest periods. Out of all types of HIIT, Tabata focuses most on getting the most bang for your buck. In other words, Tabata aims to mix efficiency with effectiveness.

Full-Body HIIT

HIIT can definitely be used to target certain areas and muscle groups. However, if you want to make your HIIT sessions even more efficient, you can opt for full-body HIIT, where you’ll be doing movements such as burpees, pushups, or lunges.

Full-body HIIT is best for seeing all-around results, including some muscle toning and reduction in body fat. If you’re new to HIIT and aren’t sure which type to try first, full-body HIIT is a great place to begin.

Resistance Training HIIT

One great aspect of HIIT workouts is that they do not require any equipment. This makes HIIT highly accessible for many people. However, if you wish to use HIIT to build muscle, adding resistance makes this possibility of obtaining muscle growth much more likely. Still, weighted HIIT workouts typically use nothing more than a lightweight dumbbell or kettlebell. 

Cardio-Based HIIT

Traditional HIIT workouts are already cardio-focused. By “cardio-based HIIT” we actually mean applying HIIT principles to other more conventional forms of cardio. For example, you can get on the treadmill and do max-effort sprints or even apply this to cycling. If you already run, bike, swim, or do other forms of cardio, applying HIIT training methods can be a great way to switch up your current cardio routine.

Well, What About My Results?!

Let’s get to the point: when can you expect to see those sweet, precious, hard-earned results? The answer isn’t as black and white as you may be hoping.

When You Should Feel It

If by “results” you mean ANY changes, most people report that they notice a difference in their body by doing HIIT for at least one month. After this month, you should start noticing a lot of the more internal benefits of HIIT, such as an overall boost in energy and increased athletic ability. This is typically true no matter your starting point or the type of HIIT you’re doing.

When You Should See It

If your goal is more aesthetics-oriented, such as weight loss or muscle gain, it may take a little longer than one month to see visible results. Still, you will likely feel the effects of HIIT internally much sooner. Your visible result is dependent on your current fitness level as well as your lifestyle habits much more than anything else.

Being highly driven by physique-focused goals is not a bad thing. However, being patient with your physical changes is always advisable. Losing too much weight in a short amount of time will result in significant loss of muscle rather than fat and can actually hurt your performance in the gym. However, if you would like to diminish your muscles, there are healthy ways to go about doing so.

Typically, you should aim for a maximum of 2 lbs of weight loss per week, with a doctor’s permission. The smaller the changes, the better your body will adapt to keep the weight off. For some people, as little as 5 lbs of weight change can be noticeable, but this depends on your starting weight.

For weight, a 10 lb difference is usually a good milestone to begin seeing a significant difference. If you’re doing the weight loss at a healthy pace, expect to see results at around the month and 1-week point in your HIIT journey.

If you wish to build muscle mass, much of the same principles apply. Although, seeing a difference in your muscular size can take up to two weeks longer than seeing the effects of weight loss. This is simply because the process of building muscle is slightly more complex and difficult for most people.

If you’re looking for major changes in your body composition, perhaps maybe significant weight loss and muscle gain, you should carve out a good amount of time to see your desired results.

While you are still likely to see your hard work paying off by the end of the first month, you’ll have to be patient in order to see larger changes from HIIT.

Additional Tips to See Results from HIIT

Sometimes getting desired results is a frustrating and grueling process. However, there is a lot you can do outside of your training sessions to ease, and maybe even expedite, the journey.

  1. Don’t Focus Too Much on Appearance or Weight: If you’re a beginner, it can be easy to compare yourself to the best of the best in the fitness game. After all, having goals is important. However, as a beginner, you should put all your efforts into building a solid foundation of form and habits. It may even be worth it to hire a personal trainer just to help you get going. Focusing on our physical appearance can become obsessive and overshadow the more important aspects of a workout.
healthy food concept
  1. Focus On Nutrition: Whether your goal is to lose weight, gain muscle, or just feel better, nutrition is important. We’ve already discussed that it is a large factor to take into consideration when wanting to see your goals and we are here to reiterate that you should always prioritize a proper diet.
  1. Proper Hydration: A proper diet also means proper hydration, but this point is so important that it deserves its own number. While you should be sipping on water throughout the day, it is especially vital to rehydrate during your workouts. Exercise like HIIT is often very sweat-inducing, so you’ll lose a lot of your body’s water and electrolytes.
  1. Warm Up: When you’re going to be pushing your body and mind to the maximum, it is important to warm up properly. This is not just to prepare your body for movement, but to also allow yourself time for mental clarity and aim your focus.

HIIT Results: Last Thoughts

For most people, one month of consistent HIIT is the sweet spot for getting your first taste of decent results, whatever your desired results may be. While there are many things you can do along the way to better ensure results, HIIT in itself is still highly effective.

HIIT is an amazing training tool for nearly any goal. Likewise, it can be an extremely difficult method of training, so being curious about when all your hard work is going to pay off is only natural.

While building the muscles of your dreams or starting your journey to becoming a great endurance athlete is nothing but possible with HIIT, don’t get too caught up in the end result and enjoy the journey.