Fit and fat: Effect of high-intensity training on the obese

A new study published in Sports Medicine—Open suggests that high-intensity training benefits the obese, even if there's no fat loss.

Does High-Intensity Training (HIT) have a physical effect even if there’s no weight loss? Is there a benefit to the obese even without fat loss or increase in lean muscle mass? A new study published in Sports Medicine—Open suggests that, in fact, there is.

The article by Georges Jabbour, Horia-Daniel Iancu and Anne Paulin of Université de Moncton titled, Effects of High-Intensity Training on Anaerobic and Aerobic Contributions to Total Energy Release During Repeated Supramaximal Exercise in Obese Adults describes the results of an experiment which looked at the effects of training on obese adults.

The exercise program consisted of 3 researcher-monitored sessions per week for 6 weeks, during which the participants would warm up, and then pedal at maximum velocity for 6 seconds before a 2-minute rest/recovery period. At the conclusion of the 6-week program, the researchers re-evaluated both groups.

Jabbour et al. took a group of 13 women and 11 men with Body Mass Indices higher than 30 and then split them into a training group and a control group. The researchers then evaluated both groups for their baseline measurements, including BMI and body fat percentage, and also VO2 and VO2peak at rest and under various They also measured accumulated oxygen uptake and oxygen demand during several supramaximal bouts of cycling, which allowed the researchers to determine the relative aerobic and anaerobic contributions to exercise.

The experimental group then took part in 18 HIT sessions. The program consisted of 3 researcher-monitored sessions per week for 6 weeks, during which the participants would warm up, and then pedal at maximum velocity for 6 seconds before a 2-minute rest/recovery period. At the conclusion of the 6-week program, the researchers re-evaluated both groups.

They found that the experimental group had better performance. They write,

Increased anaerobic contributions after [High-Intensity Training (HIT)] were associated with increased power output, although no changes in fat-free mass were observed. Such results highlight the importance of HIT in enhancing muscle tolerance to exercise by improving anaerobic capacity. Thus, the present findings provide an important first step towards an evidence-based approach for the utilization of HIT as a strategy for the obese sedentary population.

You can read the entire article here.

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