The best training for us is probably not always the shortest, according to a new study. This compared the benefits of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) with longer, more moderate exercise sessions. The study, which was published in the journal “Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise”, comes to the conclusion that both types of training have their benefits. Half an hour of moderate exercise five times a week has advantages, however, as it has a good influence on fat loss, blood pressure and other metabolic parameters.
Fitness aficionados know that the trend of HITT workouts, in which 15 minutes of full muscle strength is worked, followed by a few seconds break, increases muscle strength enormously and has a positive influence on biological age. In a very short time, people can improve their fitness with a handful of workouts. The small mini-units work surprisingly well, although the training is almost over before it really starts. For office workers in particular, the idea of creating something in 15 minutes for which others have to do long running sessions is downright relieving.
The New York Times reports on a study by the University of Guelph in Ontario that has observed changes in the body of people who have either done HIIT or traditional moderate exercise according to recommended guidelines. The scientists conclude that HIIT enthusiasts only exercise three times a week to avoid overloading the muscles. The guidelines for moderate exercise, however, state that people should exercise at least 30 minutes five times a week.
The HIIT subjects do not move four times a week, which has a negative effect on their entire metabolism. Fat-reducing and antihypertensive training requires that the pulse should be increased for 30 minutes so that someone is out of breath, the heart is strained and one sweats. HIIT increases the heart rate, but only for a short time.
For the current study, the researchers divided unsporting, overweight men into two groups. Twenty-three of them were supposed to do HIIT three times a week, the other group five times moderate exercise. The HIIT men cycled at maximum speed for 30 seconds and then took a two-minute break. They repeated this training four to six times in a row.
The other subjects rode their bikes in the laboratory for 30 to 40 minutes five times a week, at a speed that they could keep up with.
At the beginning and at the end of the study, the scientists tested fitness levels, blood sugar, the distribution of body fat and muscle mass, blood pressure and other parameters of the test subjects. For example, they gave them a high-fat shake to find out how well they could metabolize the high-fat food. They equipped all study participants with blood glucose meters so that their values were recorded continuously.
Their conclusion: After six weeks, the men in both groups showed better fitness than at the beginning. But those from the moderate training group had lost more body fat, improved their blood pressure values and were able to break down the fatty shake much better. Interestingly, the men’s blood sugar levels were better on the days they worked out. So for HIIT men three days a week, for the others five.
Depending on what training goal someone wants to achieve, whether an improvement in fitness, fat loss or a stabilization of blood pressure, either HITT or moderate training can help. The optimal version is a mixture of both on as many days per week as possible.