High-intensity interval training for improving health-related fitness in adolescents: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Br J Sports Med. 2015 Oct;49(19):1253-61. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2014-094490. Epub 2015 Jun 18.


Background: High-intensity interval training (HIIT) may be a feasible and efficacious strategy for improving health-related fitness in young people. The objective of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to evaluate the utility of HIIT to improve health-related fitness in adolescents and to identify potential moderators of training effects.

Methods: Studies were considered eligible if they: (1) examined adolescents (13-18 years); (2) examined health-related fitness outcomes; (3) involved an intervention of ≥4 weeks in duration; (4) included a control or moderate intensity comparison group; and (5) prescribed high-intensity activity for the HIIT condition. Meta-analyses were conducted to determine the effect of HIIT on health-related fitness components using Comprehensive Meta-analysis software and potential moderators were explored (ie, study duration, risk of bias and type of comparison group).

Results: The effects of HIIT on cardiorespiratory fitness and body composition were large, and medium, respectively. Study duration was a moderator for the effect of HIIT on body fat percentage. Intervention effects for waist circumference and muscular fitness were not statistically significant.

Conclusions: HIIT is a feasible and time-efficient approach for improving cardiorespiratory fitness and body composition in adolescent populations.

Keywords: Adolescent; Body composition; Cardiovascular; Physical fitness.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Composition / physiology
  • Cardiovascular Physiological Phenomena
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Observer Variation
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Physical Fitness / physiology*
  • Respiratory Physiological Phenomena
  • Selection Bias