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HIIT the Gym: Neuromuscular Training is Effective for Fat Loss

A recent study investigated the effectiveness of high-intensity neuromuscular training for reducing body mass and losing fat.

As the global obesity epidemic continues to grow, so does the burden on public healthcare systems. It especially contributes a burden as obesity predisposes an individual to additional health issues such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Therefore, the development of effective strategies to prevent and manage obesity is paramount. Current research is looking at how effective neuromuscular training is as a potential fat loss strategy.

High-intensity interval training incorporates neuromuscular training

Neuromuscular refers to nerves and muscles. Nerves send signals to muscles in your body to contract. Neuromuscular training refers to high-intensity, high-force, and explosive muscle contractions. This type of exercise is effective at increasing the speed at which muscles respond and produce force. One popular and well-known workout that incorporates neuromuscular training is high-intensity interval training or HIIT. HIIT incorporates cardiovascular activities into interval and circuit-like programs. A typical HIIT workout lasts between four to 15 minutes and an absolute maximum of 30 minutes.

A common strategy to help prevent and manage obesity is introducing lifestyle changes such as increasing the amount of exercise to be more than the amount of food consumed. Obesity occurs when there is an imbalance between the energy intake and expenditure, where the amount of energy from food is favored over the amount of energy used for exercise.

High-endurance and resistance-training exercises have low compliance rates

Previously, exercise intervention strategies have included moderate-to-high-intensity workouts consisting mostly of high endurance exercise. A significant challenge with this is adherence. While these types of workouts do promote weight loss, help prevent gaining the weight back, and reduce the risk of developing obesity-related diseases, they can be time-consuming. Low compliance rates are associated with high-endurance and resistance-training programs. Therefore, many are now looking at whether neuromuscular training or HIIT programs would be more effective as they are much more time-efficient.

Almost 50% of women in developed countries are classified as overweight

In developed countries almost 50% of women are classified as overweight and likely to become obese. They are therefore at high risk of developing heart and metabolic diseases. Hence, a recent study by researchers in Greece investigated whether introducing a high-intensity exercise protocol which utilized neuromuscular training exercises in intervals would be an effective fat loss strategy for overweight/obese women.

The researchers hypothesized that using a circuit-type neuromuscular exercise training protocol (CINT) could be an effective way to increase adherence rates as the program requires less commitment of time. This would therefore potentially increase the use of energy and promote greater overall health and well-being. They published their findings in PLOS One.

The study included 49 healthy overweight or obese women. They were randomly assigned to either the control group, training group or training-detraining group. The control group did not train over the study period of 40 weeks. During weeks 1–20 both training groups exercised three times per week. The exercise program included adapted HIIT protocols with 10–12 whole-body exercises which progressively increased in intensity and volume in a timed interval-circuit program. During weeks 21–40 the training group continued with training and the training-detraining group stopped training.

Participants had increased strength, endurance, and fat-free mass after 40 weeks

In the beginning, middle, and end of the study energy intake, regular physical activity, resting heart rate, body composition, body mass, strength, and oxygen consumption were measured. In the control group, body fat, waist, and hip circumferences increased after 40 weeks compared to initial measurements, but the participants in the training group had reduced body mass and body fat. They also increased strength, endurance, and fat-free mass after the 40 weeks of training. Weight gain after training stopped in the participants in the training-detraining group was limited.

Positive results for adults wanting to maintain long-term weight loss

The findings also showed that over this long-term period, the amount of energy used by the training group exceeds the amount of energy consumed by the participants. The training group also had a 94% attendance rate. After a five-month follow-up, the training-induced gains were reduced but not completely lost when participants stopped training. In conjunction with the results of the training-detraining group, the results suggest this type of training may result in adults maintaining weight loss from the program long-term.

In conclusion, this study showed that the introduction of a high-intensity neuromuscular training program over a period of 10 months resulted in long-term progressive and sustained reduction in body mass and fat loss. Given the limited time commitment required and positive adherence rates, workouts incorporating HIIT and neuromuscular training may be ideal lifestyle interventions to employ in anti-obesity programs.

Written by Lacey Hizartzidis, PhD

Reference: Batrakoulis A, Jamurtas AZ, Georgakouli K, Draganidis D, Deli CK, Papanikolaou K, Avloniti A, Chatzinikolaou A, Leontsini D, Tsimeas P, Comoutos N, Bouglas V, Michalopoulou M, Fatouros IG. High intensity, circuit-type integrated neuromuscular training alters energy balance and reduces body mass and fat in obese women: A 10-month training-detraining randomized controlled trial. PLoS One. 2018 Aug 23;13(8):e0202390. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0202390.

Lacey Hizartzidis PhD
Lacey Hizartzidis PhD
Lacey has a Ph.D. in Medicinal Chemistry from the University of Newcastle in Australia. Her research investigated the use of flow chemistry to synthesize potential anti-cancer agents. Having authored a number of articles published in international journals, she has developed a love for writing. Coupled with her passion for science and health, Lacey truly enjoys writing for Medical News Bulletin and helping people to understand the important and exciting scientific research being conducted around the world. With an adventurous spirit, Lacey also enjoys travelling the world, living a healthy life and helping others to do so as well.


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