Moderate-Intensity Continuous Training or High-Intensity Interval Training with or without Resistance Training for Altering Body Composition in Postmenopausal Women

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2020 Mar;52(3):736-745. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000002162.


Purpose: This study aimed to compare body composition changes induced by moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT), high-intensity interval training (HIIT), or HIIT + resistance training (RT) programs (3 d·wk, 12 wk) in overweight/obese postmenopausal women, and to determine whether fat mass reduction is related to greater fat oxidation (FatOx).

Methods: Participants (n = 27) were randomized in three groups: MICT (40 min at 55%-60% of peak power output), HIIT (60 × 8 s at 80%-90% of peak HR, 12 s active recovery), and HIIT + RT (HIIT + 8 whole-body exercises: 1 set of 8-12 repetitions). Dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry was used to measure whole-body and abdominal/visceral fat mass (FM) and fat-free mass. FatOx was determined at rest, during a moderate-intensity exercise (40 min at 50% of peak power output), and for 20 min postexercise, before and after training.

Results: Overall, energy intake and physical activity levels did not vary from the beginning to the end of the intervention. Body weight and total FM decreased in all groups over time, but significant abdominal/visceral FM losses were observed only in HIIT and HIIT + RT groups. When expressed in percentage, total FM, fat-free mass, and muscle mass were significantly modified only by HIIT + RT training. FatOx did not change at rest but increased similarly in the three groups during and after exercise. Therefore, the HIIT-induced greater FM loss was not related to higher FatOx during or after exercise.

Conclusions: MICT or HIIT ± RT could be proposed to nondieting postmenopausal women who are overweight/obese to decrease weight and whole-body FM. The HIIT programs were more effective than MICT in reducing abdominal/visceral FM. RT addition did not potentiate this effect but increased the percentage of muscle mass.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Body Composition*
  • Body Fat Distribution
  • Energy Intake
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • High-Intensity Interval Training*
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Overweight / physiopathology
  • Overweight / therapy*
  • Postmenopause / physiology*
  • Resistance Training*