Time constraints and financial burdens have led consumers to search for cost- effective and efficient methods for achieving health and fitness goals. One modality creating interest is high-intensity intermittent exercise (HIIE) training, which calls for short bursts of intense output followed by short periods of rest or active rest. But are these types of programs effective or simply a trend?
A study published online in the January issue of the International Journal of Obesity (2008; 32, 684–91) determined that HIIE is effective and may offer greater benefits than lengthy bouts of steady-state exercise (SSE). Participants included 45 overweight women ages 18–30 and were equally divided into three different groups: SSE, HIIE and a nonexercise control group. The exercise groups used indoor cycles three times per week for 15 weeks. The SSE group performed at 60% VO2peak (peak oxygen uptake), building up to approximately 40 minutes per session. The HIIE group performed 8 seconds of high-intensity work followed by 12 seconds of relative rest for 20 minutes. No dietary changes were made throughout the study.
Upon study completion both exercise groups experienced significant improvements in cardiovascular output and oxygen consumption. However, only the HIIE group made significant reductions in total body mass, fat mass, trunk fat and fasting insulin levels. Study authors suggested that the nature of HIIE “would demand fats as part of the fuel mix and that short bouts would place greater demand on the ATP-PC system than the glycolytic system and hence produce less lactate than long bouts. These data . . . also support the hypothesis that the intermittent nature of HIIE would lead to metabolic responses that differ in nature to moderate-intensity continuous exercise.”
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