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HIIT Neuromuscular Training Helps Inactive Women

The hybrid training model is safe, effective and enjoyable for people who are overweight.

HIIT for women

If you’re looking for ways to stimulate clients’ programming, particularly for those who have been inactive or are overweight, try a blend of high-intensity interval training and functional resistance accessory training.

Alexis Batrakoulis, MS, PhD candidate at the University of Thessaly in Greece and 2018 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, was part of the research team that developed the program and conducted the study. Batrakoulis explains that HIIT neuromuscular training is a hybrid exercise that aims to incorporate endurance-based body-weight drills and resistance-based alternative modes into an integrated circuit-type workout.

Batrakoulis and other investigators conducted the study with 49 previously inactive adult women with obesity. The women were in their 30s. The research team randomly assigned them to a control group, a 10-month training group, or a 5-month training plus 5-month detraining group.

The two training groups started out with a less-than-30-minute circuit-style workout that consisted of 20-second work intervals and 40-second rest intervals, with participants completing one to three rounds of the circuit. Exercises included body-weight moves like planks and jacks, as well as equipment-based exercises using balance balls, kettlebells, medicine balls and more. Workouts became progressively more challenging over time. Study authors found that exercisers reduced stress, increased vitality, improved fitness and lost weight.

Batrakoulis says, “Such a progressive approach adapted for individuals with overweight and obesity appears to be a safe, enjoyable, effective and time-efficient solution for clients who are seeking to improve body composition, metabolic health, physical fitness and exercise behavioral regulation.”

The study was published in the European Journal of Sports Science (2019; doi:10.1080/17461391.2019.1663270).

See also: HIIT Training for Fast, Efficient Fat Loss


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Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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