High Intensity Cycling for Obesity

High Intensity Cycling

The Study

The purpose of the study was to “to determine the effect of a 12-week high intensity intermittent exercise (HIIE) intervention on total body, abdominal, trunk, visceral fat mass, and fat free mass of young overweight males.”

The study participants consisted of 46 inactive, overweight men, split into 2 groups.  The study group performed the following protocol 3 days per week for 12 weeks:

  • Pedal hard for 8 seconds
  • Pedal easy for 12 seconds
  • Total time: 20 minutes

Another important study protocol was that the participants were strictly instructed to NOT change their diet in any way.

The Results

  • 4 pounds of fat loss in the abdominal area
  • A 17% reduction of visceral (sub-abdominal) belly fat
  • Significant muscle mass gains in the legs

In comparison with other studies on fat loss, the researchers noted that this protocol approximately matched studies where participants performed steady-state cardio (jogging or easy spinning) for approximately 1 hour per day.  Clearly, this high intensity protocol saves a bundle of time.  Not only that, but the high intensity protocol builds leg muscle and saves a ton of wear and tear on the joints, when compared to the steady state protocol.

Practical Implementation

If your main goal is fat loss, this protocol will save you time and will build leg muscle, but it is fairly brutal.  It requires a lot of sprinting over 20 minutes.

Of course, it also begs the question – can this be done with other cardio machines?  My guess is that it would be equally effective using the rowing machine, elliptical, treadmill or stairmaster.  And I’m also not convinced that there is any magic in the 8 second/12 second protocol.  I suggest experimenting with different protocols.   Maybe 10 second hard with a 20 second rest.  Or 20 seconds hard with a 30 second rest.

If you give it a try, let me know how it works.  Good luck.


The Effect of High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise on Body Composition of Overweight Young Males

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