A Comparison of High Intensity Functional Training and Circuit Training on Health and Performance Variables in Women: A Pilot Study

in Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal
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  • 1 Western Kentucky University
  • | 2 Middle Tennessee State University
  • | 3 Georgia Gwinnett College
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High intensity functional training (HIFT) emphasizes constantly varied, high intensity, functional activity by programming strength and conditioning exercises, gymnastics, Olympic weightlifting, and specialty movements. Conversely, traditional circuit training (TCT) programs aim to improve muscular fitness by utilizing the progressive overload principle, similar movements weekly, and specified work-to-rest ratios. The purpose of this investigation was to determine if differences exist in health and performance measures in women participating in HIFT or TCT after a six-week training program. Recreationally active women were randomly assigned to a HIFT (n = 8, age 26.0 + 7.3 yrs) or TCT (n = 11, age 26.3 + 9.6 yrs) group. Participants trained three days a week for six weeks with certified trainers. Investigators examined body composition (BC), aerobic and anaerobic capacity, muscular strength, endurance, flexibility, power, and agility. Repeated-measures ANOVA were used for statistical analyses with an alpha level of 0.05. Both groups increased body mass (p = .011), and improved muscular endurance (p < .000), upper body strength (p = .007), lower body power (p = .029) and agility (p = .003). In addition, the HIFT group decreased body fat (BF) %, while the TCT group increased BF% (p = .011). No changes were observed in aerobic or anaerobic capacity, flexibility, upper body power, or lower body stair climbing power. Newer, high intensity functional exercise programs such as HIFT may have better results on BC and similar effects when compared with TCT programs on health and fitness variables such as musculoskeletal strength and performance.

Sobrero, Arnett, Schafer, Salyer-Funk, Crandall, Farley, Brown, Lyons, T. Esslinger, K. Esslinger, and Maples are with the School of Kinesiology, Recreation and Sport, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY. Stone is with the Department of Health and Human Performance, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN. Tolbert is with the Department of Exercise Science, Georgia Gwinnett College, Lawrenceville, GA.

Address author correspondence to Gina Sobrero at sobrerog@gmail.com.