Feasibility of a progressive protocol of high-intensity interval training for overweight/obese, sedentary African American women: A retrospective analysis

Avigdor D. Arad, Jeanine B. Albu, Fred J. Dimenna

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6 Scopus citations


Background: African American (AA) women have a higher prevalence of obesity and related metabolic dysfunction and lower level of physical activity compared to white counterparts. Determining feasible exercise alternatives for AA women is, therefore, paramount. Time-efficient high-intensity interval training (HIIT) might be particularly suited for AA women who cite time constraints as a frequent barrier to exercise adherence. The purpose of this study was to assess the feasibility of a 14-week progressive HIIT protocol for previously-sedentary overweight/obese AA women. Methods: Twenty-eight healthy, premenopausal (age, 20-40 yr), sedentary, nondiabetic, overweight/obese AA women volunteered to participate in the randomized controlled clinical trial from which these data were retrospectively analysed. After assessment, participants were randomly allocated to a HIIT group (n = 14) or a no-exercise control group. The HIIT intervention consisted of 24-min sessions performed three times per week for 14 weeks during which work-interval intensity (75 to 90% of heart rate reserve; HRR) and duration (30 to 60 s) and work/recovery ratio (1:7 to 1:3) were progressed in four stages. Feasibility was assessed based on adherence (attrition rate), perceptual response (RPE) and success rate, which was calculated based on the degree to which target intensities for work intervals were achieved/maintained. Results: Five of 14 participants (35%) in the HIIT group dropped out during the intervention. One-way repeated-measures ANOVA revealed a significant difference across stages for success rate (p = 0.018) with post-hoc analysis indicating a significant difference between stage 1 and the other stages and stage 4 and the other stages. There was no significant difference in RPE across stages (p = 0.057). Conclusion: Albeit based on a limited number of participants, we found an attrition rate that was higher than what has been reported previously for HIIT (~ 17.6%) when previously-sedentary overweight/obese AA women performed a protocol with work-interval intensity progressed from 75 to 90% HRR during a 14-week intervention. With respect to intensity, the precipitous drop for achievement of the target HR during the fourth stage (weeks 8-14) for those who did complete the protocol implies that it might be advisable to restrict work-interval intensity to < 90% HRR. Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov. (NCT04293367). Registered 03 March 2020 - Retrospectively registered.

Original languageEnglish
Article number59
JournalBMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number1
StatePublished - 21 Sep 2020


  • African American women
  • Exercise adherence
  • Feasibility
  • High-intensity interval training
  • Overweight/obesity
  • Prescribing intensity


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