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Br J Sports Med. 2019 May;53(10):655-664. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2018-099928. Epub 2019 Feb 14.

Is interval training the magic bullet for fat loss? A systematic review and meta-analysis comparing moderate-intensity continuous training with high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

Author information

1
Faculty of Physical Education and Dance, Federal University of Goiás, Goiânia, Goiás, Brazil.
2
Faculty of Physical Education, Federal University of Pará, Castanhal, Pará, Brazil.
3
Centre for Health, Exercise, and Sport Science, School of Sport, Health and Social Sciences, Southampton, Hampshire, UK.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To compare the effects of interval training and moderate-intensity continuous training (MOD) on body adiposity in humans, and to perform subgroup analyses that consider the type and duration of interval training in different groups.

DESIGN:

Systematic review and meta-analysis.

DATA SOURCES:

English-language, Spanish-language and Portuguese-language searches of the electronic databases PubMed and Scopus were conducted from inception to 11 December 2017.

ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA FOR SELECTING STUDIES:

Studies that met the following criteria were included: (1) original articles, (2) human trials, (3) minimum exercise training duration of 4 weeks, and (4) directly or indirectly compared interval training with MOD as the primary or secondary aim.

RESULTS:

Of the 786 studies found, 41 and 36 were included in the qualitative analysis and meta-analysis, respectively. Within-group analyses showed significant reductions in total body fat percentage (%) (interval training: -1.50 [95% CI -2.14 to -0.86, p<0.00001] and MOD: -1.44 [95% CI -2.00 to -0.89, p<0.00001]) and in total absolute fat mass (kg) (interval training: -1.58 [95% CI -2.74 to -0.43, p=0.007] and MOD: -1.13 [95% CI -2.18 to -0.08, p=0.04]), with no significant differences between interval training and MOD for total body fat percentage reduction (-0.23 [95% CI -1.43 to 0.97], p=0.705). However, there was a significant difference between the groups in total absolute fat mass (kg) reduction (-2.28 [95% CI -4.00 to -0.56], p=0.0094). Subgroup analyses comparing sprint interval training (SIT) with MOD protocols favour SIT for loss of total absolute fat mass (kg) (-3.22 [95% CI -5.71 to -0.73], p=0.01). Supervised training, walking/running/jogging, age (<30 years), study quality and intervention duration (<12 weeks) favourably influence the decreases in total absolute fat mass (kg) observed from interval training programmes; however, no significant effect was found on total body fat percentage (%). No effect of sex or body mass index was observed on total absolute fat mass (kg) or total body fat percentage (%).

CONCLUSION:

Interval training and MOD both reduce body fat percentage (%). Interval training provided 28.5% greater reductions in total absolute fat mass (kg) than MOD.

TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER:

CRD42018089427.

KEYWORDS:

exercise; fat percentage; meta-analysis; sports and exercise medicine

PMID:
30765340
DOI:
10.1136/bjsports-2018-099928
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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