High Intensity Interval Exercise (HIIE) vs Steady State Exercises (SEE) for fat loss



EG Trapp et al conducted an experiment in 2007 at the University of New South Wales. They took 45 female participants aged between 20 and 30 and with a mean BMI of 23.2.

15 were assigned to Steady State Exercise (SSE), 15 were assigned to High Intensity Interval Exercise (HIIE) and 15 were assigned to a Control Group (CONT).


SSE & HIIE groups undertook an exercise programme over 15 weeks on a stationary bike, three times per week.

The CONT group were asked to maintain their current nutrition and exercise programmes.

SSE group cycled on a stationary bike for 40 minutes at 60% intensity (Vo2 max).

HIIE group performed a maximum of 60 intervals on the stationary bike set at a work/rest ratio of 8s/12s – during the rest phase participants turned pedals between 20 and 30 r.p.m. Resistance was applied progressively, as participants became fitter.


SSE and HIIE groups saw significant increases in cardiovascular fitness.

No significant difference between the CONT group and SSE group in terms of total body mass and body fat.

There was significant reduction of total body mass in the HIIE group averaging at 4.3% and an even more significant reduction in fat mass averaging at 14.7%, when the four leanest women were removed from the results.

SEE and HIIE groups saw reductions in fasting insulin levels, however this was more significant in HIIE (31% vs SSE 9%).

Abdominal fat decreased by 9.5% in the HIIE group in contrast to a 10.5% increase in the SSE group.


High Intensity Interval Exercise (HIIE) three times per week compared to the same frequency of Steady State Exercise (SSE), is associated with significant reductions in total body fat, subcutaneous leg & trunk fat, and insulin resistance in young women.

Practical Application

If you are looking to reduce body fat and specifically around the abdomin and legs, then High Intensity Interval Training on a stationary bike is recommended. It takes half the time of traditional Steady State Exercise and seems to yield better results.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is not for everyone though, as it can feel uncomfortable and push you to the maximum, however if you like to be pushed and feel like you worked hard, then this training modality could be ideal for you.

HIIT can be applied to other cardiovascular exercises, such as running and rowing, however if you particularly want to reduce fat around your abdominals and legs, cycling appears to be the most effective.

Although this experiment was done with female participants, there is no reason to suggest this training programme is not also effective for males, although the results may vary.

Remember to also do some form of exercise for your upper body, as this experiment showed slight increase in fat deposits in the participant’s arms, because cycling mainly involves legs and the lower trunk.

Optimising fat loss & lean muscle gain

In this blog, I discuss a research article on fat loss and lean muscle gain. In my personal experience this has been very successful for me in the past and on other people. I did not however consider the effect different protein supplements may have and will be interested to experiment on myself, as I predominately supplement with whey protein.

I hope you enjoy the research findings and find them interesting – please feel free to discuss.

The Research…

Robert H. Demling and Leslie DeSanti (2000) did an experiment on 38 overweight police officers over 12 weeks – they were split into 3 groups:

Group 1: Hypocaloric diet alone of 75 -85% needs

Group 2: Hypocaloric diet of 75 -85% needs + resistance training + high protein intake (whey)

Group 3: Hypocaloric diet of 75 -85% needs + resistance training + high protein intake (casein)


  • All participants needed to maintain calories of 80-85% of recommended values
  • Fat intake could not exceed 25% of total recommended calories
  • 2/3 (80%) of carbohydrates had to be complex
  • Group 1 had to consume 0.8g of protein per kg of body weight
  • Group 2 + 3 had to consume 1.5g (25%) of protein per kg of body and take two protein supplements per day (one after workout and 8 hours between each one)


  • Progressive resistance training programme on 4 days per week with rest days between each session
  • Sessions monitored by an experienced trainer
  • Routines took 30-35 minutes
  • Maximum effort measured every 4 weeks in shoulder press, leg extension and chest press
  • Aerobic exercises performed on rest days


Diet-alone (Group 1)

Average weight loss of up to 2.5kg (mostly from fat loss alone)

Average fat loss of 2%

Gradual declines in lean muscle mass

Diet, Exercise and Whey Protein Study (Group 2)

Average weight loss of up to 2.8kg

Average fat loss of 4.2kg (4%)

Average lean muscle gain of 2kg

Average 28% increase in strength gains

Diet, Exercise and Casein Protein Study (Group 3)

Average weight loss of up to 2.3kg

Average fat loss of 7kg (8%)

Average lean muscle gain of 4kg

Average 59% increase in strength gains


Diet-alone achieved weight loss, but body composition did not change much and fat loss did not decrease as much as the other two groups. There was also evidence of gradual lean muscle decline and this could be associated with decreasing strength. It is also worth noting that the participants were already in a calorie deficit before participating in the research, as part of experiment all participants were required to control their diet with a set criteria, therefore these results may not have been as promising with a calorie deficit alone.

The other two groups with a higher protein intake and resistance training programme showed significant fat loss and lean muscle gain, as well as strength gains, however the increases are noticeably more significant in the group who supplemented with casein protein.

Researchers noted that gains begun to diminish between 8-12 weeks of the study.

Practical Application:

The recommendations for optimal fat loss and lean muscle gain:

  • Calories should be set at 75-85% of recommended intake
  • No more than 25% of total calories should come from fat
  • 2/3 or 80% of carbohydrates should be complex
  • At least 25% of calories should come from protein
  • Strength programme is recommended for fat loss and increase in lean muscle
  • If using protein supplements, then casein appears to yield better results than whey protein


Robert H.Demling, Leslie DeSanti (2000) Effect of a Hypocaloric Diet, Increased Protein Intake and Resistance Training on Lean Mass Gains and Fat Mass Loss in Overweight Police Officers. Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism 2000;44:21-29.