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Why don't I burn fat despite using HIIT?

Why don't I burn fat despite using HIIT?

AfterWorkout

In the first part of this article I will refer to few studies questioning the efficiency of interval training. Many of them provoke conclusions, which may be also useful for professional sports people who have significant muscle mass (e.g. powerlifters, bodybuilders). In one of the experiments from 2014 [1], 12 weeks of interval training in the group of 38 adult people did not cause the expected results.

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Paradoxically, only the group of constant work (aerobics) reduced their level of body fat by 2.6 +/- 1.1%, whereas, the HIIT group noticed the increase of body fat by 0.3 +/- 0.6%, and the placebo group increased the level of body fat by 0.7 +/- 1.0%. The amount of body fat in trunk decreased by 3.1 +/- 1.6% in the aerobic group, by 1.1 +/- 0.4% in the placebo group and in the HIIT group there was the increase of the level of body fat in trunk by 0.7 +/- 1.0%.

The explanation of the “miracle”?

First of all: the interval group was simply lazy! In the first week its participants did intervals in the following proportions: work for 30 seconds, rest for as much as 180 seconds. At the end, in weeks 5-12, the participants did intervals in the proportion of 60/120 (work/rest) – and there were only 6 of such sets. There were 3 workouts a week. That's way too little.

The aerobic group worked for 30 minutes at the beginning, in weeks 5-12 they worked for 45 minutes with the intensity of 65% of the peak VO2 (it's the level of oxygen consumption measured during particular work, it doesn't have to be relevant to the maximal oxygen consumption [2]).

In my opinion, it's malpractice to call such training HIIT (high intensity interval training). If you are able to work for only 1 minute, then your workout is far from intensity. Just like using training machine (e.g. stationary bike) for intervals is a poor idea – the load is too little. The matter of intervals on a bike with regulated resistance, e.g. spinning one, is different.

The best interval tools are following:

  • sprints for 100-300 m, with the rest of 100-200 m, repeated 5-20 times,

  • stations, circuits with weights (e.g. TABATA, crossfit, TNT-type workouts, dumbbell challenge, grappler),

  • sprints in water, e.g. 50 m of fast crawl, 25 m moderate tempo of breaststroke,

  • mountain bike training in the mountains,

  • pulling the load,

  • hitting with a hammer,

  • jumping over obstacles,

  • obstacle course,

  • shuffle run (e.g. 10 x 10 m).

Second of all – the group of volunteers had averagely 42.5 +/- 1.1% of fat – it explains why the proper interval training was impossible to do! Such fattening excludes from doing training with changing intensity and VO2 max characteristics. That's not all, from other studies we know that obese people (e.g. women weighing 95.2 +/- 15.1 kg, including 43.4 +/- 7.9% of body fat) react differently to the submaximal effort than women with body composition closer to the normal one (59 +/- 7.7 kg, including 22.4 +/- 4.8% of body fat). It turned out that the level of lactates in overweight people increased after physical effort by only 283% and in the group of women with the body fat level of 22.4%, the increase of lactates was 450%. The scientists used a 9-minute attempt: “the effort test on a standing bike, the maximal time of the test was 9 minutes with increasing resistance (0-3 minutes – 50W; 3-6 min – 100W; 6-9 min – 150W) (the Kettler program)”. [3] “The results are coherent with the observations of Ardevol et.al, who concluded, after examining overweight and obese women during intensive physical effort, that the use of energy from anaerobic processes in obese people is significantly lower than in slim people”. [3]

Whereas, in well-trained people (BJJ competitors, wrestlers, rowers, karate competitors) there is the increase of lactates after a 30-second wingate test by ~671%! [4]

Final conclusions:

  • if you have more than 20% of fatty tissue (men) or 30% (women), because of the effort physiology, adaptation and efficiency – you will not benefit properly from the interval training. You should rather choose long-lasting aerobic exercises (30-45 minutes, 3-5 times a week), you may consider interval training after reduction of fat to the level of 12-14% (men) and ~20-22% (women),

  • if you have large muscle mass and low level of fatty tissue, you will benefit best from the high-intensity interval training (e.g. HIIT, TABATA),

  • if you already use intervals, you could use e.g. the stubborn fat protocols (e.g. 5 minutes of warm-up, 15-20 minutes of intervals within 85-92% of maximal heart rate; at the end 30 minutes of cardio – 70-75% of maximal heart rate) to get rid of the remaining fat.



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