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Alexis Batrakoulis, MS, CSCS, NSCA-CPT, RCPT*E, ACSM-EP – PhD Candidate, University of Thessaly

Dimitrios Draganidis – Research Associate, University of Thessaly

Konstantinos Papanikolaou – PhD Student, University of Thessaly

Chara K. Deli – Assistant Professor, University of Thessaly

Panagiotis Tsimeas – Teaching & Research Faculty, University of Thessaly

Athanasios Chatzinikolaou – Assistant Professor, Democritus University of Thrace

Vasiliki C. Laschou – PhD Candidate, University of Thessaly

Kalliopi Georgakouli – Post Doc Student, University of Thessaly

Athanasios Z. Jamurtas – Professor, University of Thessaly

Ioannis G. Fatouros – Professor, University of Thessaly


INTRODUCTION: Sedentary obese adults demonstrate impaired functional capacity while the obesity epidemic is expanding at an alarming rate worldwide. On the other hand, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), small group training, and functional fitness are currently the most prevalent trends in the global fitness industry. PURPOSE: This randomized controlled trial investigated the effects of a high-intensity interval neuromuscular training program on fundamental movement patterns in previously inactive obese women. METHODS: Forty-nine premenopausal obese female volunteers (n = 49; age: 36.4 ± 4.4 years; body mass index: 29.1 ± 2.9 kg/m2; body fat: 46.8 ± 5.0%) were randomly assigned to either (i) a control group (C, n = 21; participated only in measurements), (ii) a training group (TR, n = 14), or (iii) a training-detraining group (TRD, n = 14). The exercise protocol was a supervised, low-volume, progressive, and time-efficient (< 30 min) training program that included 10-12 neuromotor exercises with adjunct modalities at prescribed work-to-rest intervals (20-40 sec) in a circuit fashion (1-3 rounds) on nonconsecutive days for 10 months. The Functional Movement Screen testing battery (FMS) was used to assess the seven fundamental movement patterns that each was scored from 0 to 3 points, with the sum creating a total score ranging from 0-21 points. The Wilcoxon signed-rank test was used to determine the time-effect and perform pairwise comparisons. Differences for all dependent variables among groups were examined using the Mann-Whitney U test. RESULTS: In TR, FMS total score increased from baseline to mid- (+45%, z = 3.314, p = 0.001) and post-training (+53%, z = 3.317, p = 0.001). In TRD, FMS total score increased from baseline to mid-training (+38%, z = 3.320, p = 0.001) and remained above pre-training levels following detraining (+30%, z = 3.086, p = 0.002). At mid-training, FMS total score demonstrated similar values in TR and TRD and they were both higher than C (TR vs. C: +50%, U = 0.000, p = 0.000; TRD vs. C: +46%, U = 0.000, p = 0.000). At post-training, TR demonstrated higher FMS total score than C and TRD (TR vs. C: +57%, U = 0.000, p = 0.000; TR vs. TRD: +15%, U = 37.000, p = 0.004) while TRD showed higher FMS total score than C (+36%, U = 7.000, p = 0.000). CONCLUSIONS: There is a limited amount of data examining this kind of functional assessments in sedentary obese adults following a long-term exercise intervention. This study suggests that a nontraditional, time-efficient and injury-free training program that integrates HIIT and movement-based resistance training with alternative modalities improves fundamental movement patterns in previously inactive obese women. PRACTICAL APPLICATION: This novel and time-efficient exercise mode highlights the importance of using a supervised HIIT-type group program adapted to physiological needs of this cohort in the real-world gym setting.


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