Is HIIT Aerobic or Anaerobic?

Aerobic means “with air,” and refers to the body’s ability to produce energy by using oxygen. This type of exercise is usually performed for several minutes. Anaerobic means “without air,” and refers to the body’s ability to produce energy.

The term “aerobic” refers to an exercise with oxygen, while “anaerobic” means “without oxygen.” Here are the key differences:

  • Lack of Oxygen
  • High intensity
  • Short Duration
  • Develops Strength & Agility
  • Burn calories during workout and resting
  • Abundant oxygen
  • Medium intensity
  • Long duration
  • Improves stamina
  • Burn calories during workout

Is HIIT Aerobic or Anaerobic?

High-intensity interval training (HIIT), sprinting, and jumping rope are some of the fast-paced exercises that use a more intense form of exercise known as anaerobic training. On the other hand, aerobic training is slower-paced exercises such as swimming, walking, jogging, or endurance cycling.

When you’re in the starting stage of your workout, your heart rate will be moderate and stable. Between a heart rate of 120 to 160 or 60 to 80%, you’re in an aerobic range. You can do this for 20 to 40 minutes.

Then, you can get into high-intensity interval training. This is all out, “give it all you got” type of intensive exercise. You can normally only keep it up for 15-30 seconds. If you could keep it up for 3-5 minutes, then you’re really more in the anaerobic range.

HIIT Anaerobic heart rate is typically between 160 to 220. As we age, everyone’s a little different, but you can roughly calculate your HIIT heart rate by 220 minus your age. For example, A teenager’s HIIT heart rate would be around 200 to 220, and if you are 50 years old, your HIIT heart rate should be around 170 to 175.

AgeHeart Rate

Key Takeaways:

  • Aerobic means with oxygen and it is exercises that are sustainable over a few minutes as opposed to seconds.
  • Aerobic exercises are better at building longer cardiovascular endurance and lower to moderate in intensity.
  • Aerobic exercise keeps your heart elevated and sustained at around 50% to 70%
  • Anaerobic means without oxygen and are exercises that are only sustainable for brief periods, typically only a few seconds.
  • Anaerobic exercises are better at burning fat and building up exercises that require bursts of energy or power.
  • Anaerobic exercises keep your heart rate elevated at around 80% to 90%.

Is HIIT Aerobic?

HIIT is generally not aerobic. Aerobic exercise is a type of exercise that involves moving at a slow pace. Some examples of slow-paced exercises are endurance cycling or jogging. On the other hand, fast-paced workouts such as high-intensity interval training and interval training are more intense.

The terms anaerobic and aerobic refer to the absence and presence of oxygen. The more intense exercise, the more energy the cells need to produce. They prefer to use oxygen to fuel their metabolism.

Anaerobic means that the muscles are not able to receive enough oxygen. This condition can be caused by various activities such as jumping or sprinting. Aerobic, on the other hand, provides the muscles with enough oxygen.

Is HIIT Anaerobic?

HIIT is generally considered anaerobic. This is pretty much the complete opposite of aerobic exercise hence the prefix an, which means without. Sprinting, Jump rope, Gymnastics, and Plyometrics are all forms of anaerobic exercise.

In Anaerobic exercise, the body is working at maximal levels and can not sustain that period for very long without rest. This is due to the lack of oxygen in the muscles and build-up of lactic acid.

This allows for extreme use of energy and quick bursts of power. Usually, in brief second durations and very rarely if not impossible longer than a minute the intensity if much more than that of aerobics.

Requiring intense but brief forms of energy, this form of exercise taps directly into your fat stores as opposed to just only your glucose or the energy in your muscles that Aerobic exercise does.

This is because the demand required to keep up this amount of activity is so intense that your body needs to convert glucose at a higher rate much quicker.

Fat does a perfect job of this and prevents your body from breaking down your muscles. This is why you often see sprinters or gymnasts with huge massive frames as opposed to long-distance runners.

Anaerobic exercise requires all-out maximal effort which keeps your heart rate in the upper 80% to 90% range. Due to the intensity of the exercises rest periods (depending on the individual) are typically longer in duration.

Longer rest periods allow lactic acid in the muscles mentioned previously to clear out and the cycle to continue.

Can HIIT Be Both Aerobic and Anaerobic?

Although HIIT is generally considered anaerobic, it can also be either anaerobic or aerobic depending on the intensity. Here are example durations to maximize the effectiveness of the exercise:

15-30 Second Intervals: These are all-out sprint intervals that are designed to be as hard as you can. You’ll do this twice per week, and you will get use to them in 4-6 weeks.

90 Second Intervals: These are also known as aerobic or anaerobic endurance sprint intervals, and they are designed to be as hard as you can for as long as you can.

3-Minute Intervals: After reaching the maximum amount of oxygen that you can process in a minute, you’ll do exercises as hard as you can for 3 minutes.

5-Minute Intervals: These are the most brutal of aerobic exercises because they are designed to be as hard as you can get while training on the line, where you are introducing more fat into the fuel mix.

You can have all-out sprints of about 30 seconds increasing your heart rate to 80% or 90% (anaerobic) followed by jumping jacks for 60 seconds or over a minute which lowers your heart down to 60% or 70% (aerobic).

Then back up for some jump rope further increasing your heart rate then back down and so on and so forth.

Depending on the person’s training goals and how they want to go about their training they can still vary the intensity up or down and keep it within the ranges of aerobic or anaerobic.

Their “rest” periods during the periods of their HIIT cycle may be a form of aerobic exercise but not a complete stop or pause.

Just enough to catch their breath. If they stopped then it would no longer be a HIIT exercise and as long as the intensity is kept to upper levels of say 90% then it can still be considered a maximally intense HIIT session.