High-Intensity Interval Training and Isocaloric Moderate-Intensity Continuous Training Result in Similar Improvements in Body Composition and Fitness in Obese Individuals

Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2016 Jun;26(3):197-204. doi: 10.1123/ijsnem.2015-0078. Epub 2015 Oct 19.


This study aimed to determine the effects of 12 weeks of isocaloric programs of high-intensity intermittent training (HIIT) or moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT) or a short-duration HIIT (1/2HIIT) inducing only half the energy deficit on a cycle ergometer, on body weight and composition, cardiovascular fitness, resting metabolism rate (RMR), respiratory exchange ratio (RER), nonexercise physical activity (PA) levels and fasting and postprandial insulin response in sedentary obese individuals. Forty-six sedentary obese individuals (30 women), with a mean BMI of 33.3 ± 2.9 kg/m2 and a mean age of 34.4 ± 8.8 years were randomly assigned to one of the three training groups: HIIT (n = 16), MICT (n = 14) or 1/2HIIT (n = 16) and exercise was performed 3 times/week for 12 weeks. Overall, there was a significant reduction in body weight, waist (p < .001) and hip (p < .01) circumference,, trunk and leg fat mass (FM; p < .01) and an increase in trunk and leg fat free mass (FFM; p < .01) and cardiovascular fitness (VO2max in ml/kg/min; p < .001) with exercise. However, no significant differences were observed between groups. There was no significant change in RMR, RER, nonexercise PA levels, fasting insulin or insulin sensitivity with exercise or between groups. There was a tendency for a reduction in AUC insulin with exercise (p = .069), but no differences between groups. These results indicate that isocaloric training protocols of HIIT or MICT (or 1/2HIIT inducing only half the energy deficit) exert similar metabolic and cardiovascular improvements in sedentary obese individuals.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Basal Metabolism
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Body Composition*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Cardiovascular System / metabolism
  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • High-Intensity Interval Training*
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / prevention & control
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Physical Conditioning, Human / methods*
  • Physical Fitness / physiology*
  • Sedentary Behavior


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin