Low-Frequency HIIT Improves Body Composition and Aerobic Capacity in Overweight Men.

Research paper by Edwin C EC Chin, Angus P AP Yu, Christopher W CW Lai, Daniel Y DY Fong, Derwin K DK Chan, Stephen H SH Wong, Fenghua F Sun, Heidi H HH Ngai, Patrick S H PSH Yung, Parco M PM Siu

Indexed on: 30 Jul '19Published on: 26 Jul '19Published in: Medicine and science in sports and exercise


The relationship between the frequency of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and the resultant adaptations is largely unclear. This study compared the effects of different frequencies of HIIT with those of moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT) on body composition in overweight or obese adults. Fifty-six overweight or obese (BMI: 26.4±2.9) men aged between 18 and 30 years (age: 22.8±3.1) were randomly assigned to the following groups: no-intervention control (CON; n=14), MICT performed thrice weekly (MICT×3/wk; n=9), HIIT performed thrice weekly (HIIT×3/wk; n=14), HIIT performed twice weekly (HIIT×2/wk; n=10), and HIIT performed once weekly (HIIT×1/wk; n=9). Each HIIT session consisted of 12×1-min bouts at 90% heart rate reserve (HRR), interspersed with 11×1-min bouts at 70% HRR. Aerobic capacity, body composition, resting heart rate, vascular function, insulin resistance, and biomarkers of metabolic syndrome risk factor were examined at baseline, after 4 weeks and after 8 weeks of intervention. Aerobic capacity and percent fat-free mass significantly increased in all exercise groups compared with those in the CON group (CON vs. all exercise groups: p<0.05), whereas body fat mass and systolic blood pressure significantly decreased after 8 weeks of intervention in all exercise groups compared with those in the CON group (CON vs. all exercise groups: p<0.05). Body fat mass significantly decreased after 4 weeks in all HIIT groups compared with those in the CON group (CON vs. all HIIT groups: p<0.05) but not in the MICT×3/wk group. These novel results demonstrated that performing HIIT once weekly, even with a lower weekly volume of exercise, improved cardiorespiratory fitness, body composition, and blood pressure in overweight/obese adults. Low-frequency HIIT might be a feasible and effective strategy for the prescription of an initial exercise program for inactive, overweight or obese young men.