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.
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.