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Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2012 Dec;37(6):1222-31. doi: 10.1139/h2012-111. Epub 2012 Oct 22.

Optimising sprint interval exercise to maximise energy expenditure and enjoyment in overweight boys.

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School of Sport Science, Exercise, and Health, The University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia.


The aim of this study was to identify the sprint frequency that when supplemented to continuous exercise at the intensity that maximises fat oxidation (Fat(max)), optimises energy expenditure, acute postexercise energy intake and enjoyment. Eleven overweight boys completed 30 min of either continuous cycling at Fat(max) (MOD), or sprint interval exercise that consisted of continuous cycling at Fat(max) interspersed with 4-s maximal sprints every 2 min (SI(120)), every 1 min (SI(60)), or every 30 s (SI(30)). Energy expenditure was assessed during exercise, after which participants completed a modified Physical Activity Enjoyment Scale (PACES) followed by a buffet-type breakfast to measure acute postexercise energy intake. Energy expenditure increased with increasing sprint frequency (p < 0.001), but the difference between SI(60) and SI(30) did not reach significance (p = 0.076), likely as a result of decreased sprint quality as indicated by a significant decline in peak power output from SI(60) to SI(30) (p = 0.034). Postexercise energy intake was similar for MOD, SI(120), and SI(30) (p > 0.05), but was significantly less for SI(60) compared with MOD (p = 0.025). PACES was similar for MOD, SI(120), and SI(60) (p > 0.05), but was less for SI(30) compared with MOD (p = 0.038), SI(120) (p = 0.009), and SI(60) (p = 0.052). In conclusion, SI(60) appears optimal for overweight boys given that it maximises energy expenditure (i.e., there was no additional increase in expenditure with a further increase in sprint frequency) without prompting increased energy intake. This, coupled with the fact that enjoyment was not compromised, may have important implications for increased adherence and long-term energy balance.

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