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HIIT and Water Retention


Question for others about a peculiar thing I've discovered about myself with regards to HIIT cardio.

Anyone hold a lot more water because of it?

For my whole prep with Shelby I went with fasted morning LISS. For past few weeks I've been experimenting with wingate sprints (basically 30 sec on air dyne bike increasing resistance steadily throughout trying to max out RPMs throughout).

Macros didn't change. Weight training didn't change. Just in adding a few sprints like this held alot more water...especially in abs and legs.

So I dropped it for a few days. Even went for a pretty strenuous hike over the weekend and it's been like night and day in terms of how much drier my legs, abs, arms...everything looks.

I find this very bizarre, and it's making me question if HIIT might not be best for me after all.


Stress can cause water retention and hiit is a stressor to the body. Give it 2-3 weeks to adapt and if your still watery then change things. Also if your are trying to grow and stay dry that will hurt progress. Accept some water and know that in 1-3 days you can shed it.


Interesting, I would have thought the hike would have led to water and glycogen retention in the muscles. Whenever I hike I hit a serious weight gain the next couple days. I did 8 miles with 2300 feet of elevation gain this weekend, for instance, and should have had a solid caloric deficit. The next day I gained 2lbs. It happens every single hike. Your experience seems to be the opposite though as it dried you out. I wonder if it's the HIIT ahead of time had you already retaining and then the hiking led to some mild dehydration.


I would agree with Ryan. I've been doing HIIT type training for sometime, especially in the morning. Hell, I even drink 600-750mL of water mixed w/ 10g of bcaas and I still never feel bloated afterwards. Actually, I'm quite the opposite. The day after HIIT is the day I usually feel the leanest.



I think I've opted to reduce frequency of HIIT and only go 2 days a week with it while gaining. I'm also trading out bike sprints for more "fun" stuff like hammer tire strikes and sled work. I think looking forward to the cardio and enjoying it will probably help with the stress you talk about as well as just giving it some time to adjust.


Even though I sweat a lot more doing HIIT, I lose more glycogen and water from doing SS cardio.


for me all the MISS cardio made me hold butloads of water in my legs....Im sure what it comes down to, is that its inflaming your legs and making them look less defined. probably isnt much of a conern unless it gets visually very bad. I just did some HIIT on the bike today (as per shelbys request, oddly enough :slight_smile: ) and right now my quads feel pretty massive and pumped...and probably less defined because of it.


I've played with this a little bit, after I noticed similar results as the OP. It stands to reason that HIIT causes inflamation. The inflammation process sucks up water to remove wastes, and bring nutrients to help repair and grow. Additionally glycogenesis and lypolysis require the water to perform their chemical reactions. Its a pain in the ass aesthetically but hugely beneficial.

If you didn't get that temporary water gain then you weren't working hard enough to stimulate growth or lipolysis. Dring alot of water helps speed up the process and flush out the excess. Dandelion tea works wonders if you want to get rid of it faster.


I get crazy water retention every time I go to the gym for any form of exercise - once the pump has died down, I spend the next 1-2 hours all 'bloofy'. Then before bed I will piss like a cart-horse and I'm back to normal. I thought this was a fairly normal thing?


Yea definitely normal. I'm talking about all day though, even mornings.


I've found when ever I do any form of cardio, walking on the treadmill w/ incline, jogging or playing pick up basketball I retain alot of water and look worse afterwards for it. I know its just water, so it doesn't bother me, but I have friends that have an opposite result. Thats just how it is I guess.


I've noticed the same thing. I just chalk it up to not being able to walk around dry all the time lol


I am a sweaty mess after HIIT, but the next morning, I am slightly leaner than before. Perhaps this water retention is just a temporary reaction to the HIIT.


Nah. It was all week.

I've concluded it was too much and drastically scaled back.


Very interesting !

I have just decided to cut back my HIIT obsession of 4 days a week for the past 8 weeks as I too have noticed this exact same thing with water retention in my legs.

This thread has been a revelation !

In my efforts to lean up a bit I increased HIIT 8 weeks ago from 1-2 days to 4 days per week and although I did see fat loss results I noticed that my legs had become swollen and puffy looking all the time.

I had just gotten so addicted to that damn sled work 3-4 days each week that the inflammation just caused chronic water retention so I too will be cutting it back to 1-2 days per week.

Another good learning experience