Sprint takes slog out of jog to beat the blubber

SPRINT training for 60 minutes a week burns the same amount of body fat in men as jogging for seven hours a week, an Australian study has found.

More than 40 overweight males who took part in a short, high-intensity training regime based on cycle sprints over 12 weeks lost a significant amount of abdominal fat and increased muscle mass.

Lead researcher, Steve Boutcher said the program provided the ideal amount of exercise intensity for health benefits, including weight loss, in a short time frame.

''We've been searching for about 10 years for the minimum amount of exercise you can do with the biggest health impact factor,'' said Professor Boutcher, a exercise physiologist and associate professor at the University of New South Wales.

By exercising three times a week, participants, mostly university students in their mid-20s, lost an average two kilograms of fat and gained 1.1 kilograms of muscle mass, mainly in their trunk and legs.

Other studies have shown men would need to jog for between five and seven hours a week for more than three months to lose the same amount of fat.

As part of the program, participants sprinted on an exercise bike for eight minutes, and in doing so raised their heart rate to between 80 and 90 per cent of its maximum rate, followed by 12 minutes of slow pedalling.

''In three 20-minute sessions a week, they're only working hard for eight minutes,'' he said.

Participants lost visceral fat, adipose tissue which surrounds internal organs and is linked to cardiovascular disease risk, and reduced waist circumference.