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J Sports Sci Med. 2017 Jun 1;16(2):219-229. eCollection 2017 Jun.

Acute and Post-Exercise Physiological Responses to High-Intensity Interval Training in Endurance and Sprint Athletes.

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Human Motion Diagnostic Centre & Department of Human Movement Studies, Ostrava University, Czech Republic.
Institute of Sports Science, Exercise Physiology, Training & Training Therapy Research Group, University of Graz, Austria.


The purpose of the presented study was to compare acute and post-exercise differences in cardiorespiratory, metabolic, cardiac autonomic, inflammatory and muscle damage responses to high-intensity interval exercise (HIIT) between endurance and sprint athletes. The study group consisted of sixteen highly-trained males (age 22.1 ± 2.5 years) participating in endurance (n = 8) or sprint (n = 8) sporting events. All the participants underwent three exercise sessions: short HIIT (work interval duration 30s), long HIIT (3min) and constant load exercise (CE). The exercise interventions were matched for mean power, total time and in case of HIIT interventions also for work-to-relief ratio. The acute cardiorespiratory (HR, O2, RER) and metabolic (lactate) variables as well as the post-exercise changes (up to 3 h) in the heart rate variability, inflammation (interleukin-6, leucocytes) and muscle damage (creatine kinase, myoglobin) were monitored. Endurance athletes performed exercise interventions with moderately (CE) or largely (both HIIT modes) higher mean O2. These differences were trivial/small when O2 was expressed as a percentage of O2max. Moderately to largely lower RER and lactate values were found in endurance athletes. Markers of cardiac autonomic regulation, inflammation and muscle damage did not reveal any considerable differences between endurance and sprint athletes. In conclusions, endurance athletes were able to perform both HIIT formats with increased reliance on aerobic metabolic pathways although exercise intensity was identical in relative terms for all the participants. However, other markers of the acute and early post-exercise physiological response to these HIIT interventions indicated similarities between endurance and sprint athletes.


Intermittent exercise; heart rate variability; inflammation; muscle damage; training mode


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