Low-Volume High-Intensity Interval Training Is Sufficient to Ameliorate the Severity of Metabolic Syndrome

Joyce S. Ramos, Lance C. Dalleck, Fabio Borrani, Kassia S. Beetham, Matthew P. Wallen, Bronwyn Clark, Gomersall Sjaan, Shelley E. Keating, Robert G. Fassett, Jeff S. Coombes

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39 Citations (Scopus)


Background: High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is superior to moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT) at improving cardiometabolic risk. However, the optimal volume of HIIT to reduce the severity of the metabolic syndrome (MetS) has yet to be investigated. The aim of this study was to examine the impact of different volumes of HIIT and MICT on MetS severity (MetS z-score). Methods: This was a substudy of the "Exercise in prevention of Metabolic Syndrome" (EX-MET) multicenter trial, reporting data collected at the Brisbane site. Ninety-nine adults diagnosed with MetS were randomized to one of the following 16-week interventions: (1) MICT [n = 34, 30 min at 60%-70% heart rate (HR) peak/session, 150 min/week]; (2) 4HIIT (n = 34, 4 × 4 min bouts at 85%-95% HR peak, interspersed with 3 min active recovery at 50%-70% HR peak, 114 min/week); or (3) 1HIIT (n = 31, 1 × 4 min bout at 85%-95% HR peak, 51 min/week). Z-scores were derived from levels of MetS risk factors before and after the intervention. Results: Eighty-one participants completed post-Testing (MICT, n = 26; 4HIIT, n = 28, 1HIIT, n = 27). After excluding 16 participants who had a change in medication dosage or type during the intervention, a total of 65 participants were included in the analysis [MICT, n = 22, age 55 ± 10 years, body mass index (BMI) 32 ± 6 kg/m; 4HIIT, n = 22, 56 ± 10 years, 35 ± 9 kg/m2; 1HIIT, n = 21, 57 ± 8 years, 32 ± 5 kg/m). MetS severity reduced following all interventions (pre-to post-MetS z-score: MICT, 1.80 ± 1.93 to 0.90 ± 1.93; 4HIIT, 2.75 ± 2.56 to 2.17 ± 2.71; 1HIIT, 2.48 ± 3.38 to 0.84 ± 2.98), with no significant differences between groups. There were no reported adverse events that were directly related to the exercise interventions. Conclusions: Low-volume HIIT (51 min/week) was as effective as high-volume HIIT (114 min/week) and MICT (150 min/week) in ameliorating MetS severity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-328
Number of pages10
JournalMetabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • body fat
  • cardiorespiratory fitness
  • interval training
  • metabolic syndrome z-score


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