Is there actually a difference between HIIT and HIT or are there just different spellings of the same fitness trend? Clearly: there are actually two different types of training!

Both have one thing in common, namely the extremely high intensity, but one (HIT – high-intensity training) is more used in weight training and the other (HIIT – high-intensity interval training) is more used in endurance sports. But that’s not the only difference between HIIT and HIT.

HIIT as a time-saving alternative to classic endurance training

Highly intensive intervals in the HIIT sense have almost always existed in competitive sports. But in recent years more and more studies have emerged that attested the relatively short but intensive endurance intervals to be very effective and thus presented it as a very time-saving variant of classic endurance training.

One of the most well-known methods is certainly the so-called Tabata method , in which you perform 20 seconds of high intensities – followed by a 10-second break – exactly eight times in a row. In the total of only four minutes of training, the scientist Tabata was able to demonstrate extreme training adaptations of his test subjects. However, many associate this method as the only HIIT method and it is far from it. There are many more, such as: 10 x 1 minute high intensity followed by a 60 to 75 second break (Gibala method). Other methods, such as 5 x 30 seconds or 4 x 4 minutes, etc., have also often been scientifically tested and declared to be quite effective.

As a study by Prof. Billy Sperlich from the University of Würzburg recently showed, even 6-minute intervals can be very effective. However, the results of this study were even more positive with regard to the adaptations of the subjects’ strength skills than those of the endurance skills. And so there seems to be interfaces and / or overlaps with strength training. In summary, the HIIT method can be seen as very effective and time-saving, but it should not be seen as a complete replacement for “good old endurance training”.

But what is the HIT all about?

The version with the one “I” has also been known in specialist circles for decades. However, more in weight training circles! What is the difference between HIT and HIIT?

In weight training, high-intensity training is usually understood to mean so-called intensity-increasing techniques. There are quite a few of these and they all have one goal: total fatigue of the muscle being trained. This includes, for example, working with so-called “forced repetitions”. This means that – preferably with the help of a training partner – you do more repetitions with a weight after the last possible repetition.

One of the best-known methods that is often associated with the HIT are the so-called drop sets. Here, for example, you train with a weight that you can manage eight times on your own. In contrast to conventional strength training, the person exercising will not take a break after completing eight repetitions, but will reduce some weight (approx. 10-20%) and continue with the exercise immediately. After a renewed fatigue or a few possible “repetitions”, the user repeats the weight reduction again and will train in the following third set (quasi 3 in 1) until the muscle is completely tired. In the truest sense of the word, a highly intensive training, a HIT!

Sports beginners better only after consultation

Both methods come from completely different camps (endurance sports vs. weight training), but have the same goal: to achieve a high training effect through extremely high loads in the shortest possible time. This is a good alternative, especially for experienced athletes, but should not be used or only to a limited extent for beginners or in consultation with a coach or doctor.