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Slower and steady the key to fat loss


Forget bursting a boiler if you want to lose weight – regular endurance workouts are better for cutting the flab, according to a University of Sydney study.

While high-intensity interval training (HIIT) – which involves short bursts of vigorous activity such as sprints – has become a mainstay of gym classes and lunchtime workout groups, research by exercise physiologists from the Charles Perkins Centre found that longer but less intense endurance workouts were more effective in reducing body fat among the overweight.

Researcher Shelley Keating said many people were swapping aerobic workouts for high-intensity interval sessions in the belief that it will speed up fat loss, but this was not supported by the evidence.

“High-intensity burst training does deliver important benefits like increased fitness, Ms Keating said, “but it doesn’t have a ‘fat furnace’ effect if you carry weight around the middle.”

The study, published in the Journal of Obesity, involved 33 overweight adults split into two groups – one which performed 24 minutes of interval training three times a week, the other 45 minutes of moderate exercise three times a week. The former group gained 0.7 per cent of abdominal fat, while the endurance group lost 2.7 per cent of abdominal fat over 12 weeks.

“Forget the claims HIIT workouts can whip overweight people into shape in less time than regular aerobic exercise,” Ms Keating said. “The message is [that] if you’re hitting the gym to lose weight and trim your waistline, stick with steady aerobic exercise to shift abdominal fat.”

Adrian Rollins