Insanity vs HIIT: Which Is Better For Fat Loss?

Today I’m going to directly compare two popular forms of training – Insanity vs HIIT – and reveal which is better for noticeable, sustainable fat loss results.

insanity vs hiitWe all know that person who’s done Insanity and proclaims it the best thing out there, right?

Same as that guy in your office who discovered Crossfit..

Don’t even get me started on that guy.

But how effective is it really?

If I’m writing a training plan, which form of training would I recommend to a client?

What type of long-term results should you expect from it?

Is it as good as High Intensity Interval Training or is it nothing more than the latest home fitness trend?

The Big Misunderstanding

Many people believe programs like Insanity actually are high intensity interval training.

It’s not.

And in order to discover the real winner of the Insanity vs HIIT battle, we must first understand them.

There is one key difference between the two forms of training – a factor which will prove crucial in determining the type of results you can achieve once your body has got past the initial “shock factor” of the first few weeks in any program.

HIIT (high intensity interval training) is a protocol which was first used by athletes three decades ago and, although it’s only become popular in the mainstream over the last half a decade, there are several key studies which document both how it works and why it works.

It revolves around stimulating your heart rate via short bursts of maximal activity exertion – jacking up your heart rate, before letting it return to a normal level, then jacking it back up again, and so on..

Anyone who has ever tried Insanity, or any copycat programs, will tell you this is not the same thing.

insanity vs hiit

“HIIT workouts got actor Adam Baroni ripped for his new action movie role in wrestling flick Rhumblerama..”

What Insanity provides you with is a form of training known as HISS (high intensity steady state).

It’s the elder, tougher brother of low intensity steady state cardio (the type you see those girls at your gym doing on a stationary bike while reading the latest celebrity magazine) and it’s definitely not easy.

HISS basically puts you at “full steam ahead” for the vast majority of your workout, with only brief periods of respite.

So while they are both hard, they are definitely not the same thing..

Which Is Superior For Fat Loss?

High intensity interval training.

That’s right. I said it.

Don’t get me wrong, though – you can get results with either.

Both are hard and both will shed body fat effectively.

But the afterburn created by high intensity interval training (HIIT) and high intensity resistance training (HIRT) provide your body with a platform superior to any other form of training.

You see, you will lose weight with either method.

But the main reason many of the items in the fitness DVD market revolve around that 1-2 month time-frame is because they are based entirely on that initial shock factor and once the body adapts to it, like any other program, results stagnate. Your program needs to be progressive if it’s going to give you continuously improving results – the concept of HIIT is built upon that principle.

However, HIIT only works if you’re doing it correctly. Many trainers write out HIIT programs which are not progressive enough to get long-term results.

I’ve also spoken to many individuals who have experienced the sheer number of high impact body weight exercises (such as squats, jump squats and explosive lunges) going on to cause knee issues. But it’s what happens after that initial period of weight loss which is crucial.

is insanity hiit

Long-Term Adaptations

We have three types of muscle fibers in our body and they play a very important role in the overall adaptations you can expect to make from either HIIT or HISS.

They are:

  • Type 1 – Endurance.
  • Type 2a – Capable of being either.
  • Type 2b – Explosive.

Steady state cardio, regardless of intensity, tells our body that we need to create more Type 1 (slow-twitch) fibers to handle all the endurance work we are doing.

Regular interval based work tells our body the opposite – we need to create more Type 2 (fast-twitch) fibers to handle the explosive workload we are faced with such as sprints.

Whichever way those all-important Type 2a fibers go will be crucial to the type of physique you own.

hiit vs insanity

Furthermore, it’s about fat loss, right? Not weight loss.. And your greatest ally in fighting body fat is lean mass, so building those Type 2 fibers is a great way to enhance fat loss.

Granted, some individuals are genetically gifted to look leaner of bigger than the norm, but this factor will make the big difference between looking “slim” lean and “athletic” lean.

These, alongside the wealth of scientific studies documenting it’s effectiveness, are just some of the reasons my clients base their program around HIIT and HIRT, sometimes throwing in routines like Insanity to shake things up.

russ howe pti biceps boom

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Looking for another piece to read? Take a look at my recent post on “Time Under Tension Training”.