How hard should you train?
A meta-analysis of studies comparing body composition changes between interval training and moderate intensity continuous training
Keywords:body fat, fat loss, fat mass, hypertrophy, intensity of effort, lean mass
Objectives: To conduct a systematic review and multilevel meta-analysis of the current literature as to the effects of interval training (IT) vs moderate intensity continuous training (MICT) on measures of body composition, both on a whole-body and regional level. Design: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Data sources: English-language searches of PubMed/MEDLINE, Scopus, and CINAHL conducted in accordance with PRISMA guidelines. Eligibility criteria for selecting studies: a) randomized controlled trials that directly compared IT vs MICT body composition using a validated measure in healthy children and adults; b) training was carried out a minimum of once per week for at least four weeks; c) published in a peer-reviewed English language journal or on a pre-print server. Results: The main model for fat mass effects revealed a trivial standardized point estimate with high precision for the interval estimate, with negligible heterogeneity. The main model for lean mass effects revealed a trivial standardized point estimate with high precision for the interval estimate, with negligible heterogeneity. The GRADE summary of findings suggested high certainty for both main model effects. In comparison to non-intervention control groups, the IT conditions resulted in small reductions in fat mass and trivial increases in lean mass. The MICT conditions also produced small reductions in fat mass, and trivial increases in lean mass. Analysis of regional fat loss revealed trivial between group comparative treatment effects for upper body, lower body and trunk regions with minimal differences between regions. Conclusion: Our findings provide compelling evidence that the intensity of effort during endurance exercise has minimal influence on longitudinal changes in fat mass and lean mass.
Copyright (c) 2021 James Steele, Daniel Plotkin, Derrick Van Every, Avery Rosa, Hugo Zambrano, Benjiman Mendelovits, Mariella Carrasquillo-Mercado, Jozo Grgic, Brad J. Schoenfeld
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.