Functional Vs. Running Low-Volume High-Intensity Interval Training: Effects on VO 2 max and Muscular Endurance

Verena Menz, Natalie Marterer, Sachin B Amin, Martin Faulhaber, Alexander B Hansen, Justin S Lawley
Journal of Sports Science & Medicine 2019, 18 (3): 497-504
The purpose of the study was to assess if high-intensity interval training (HIIT) using functional exercises is as effective as traditional running HIIT in improving maximum oxygen uptake (VO2 max) and muscular endurance. Fifteen healthy, moderately trained female (n = 11) and male (n= 4) participants (age 25.6 ± 2.6 years) were assigned to either running HIIT (HIIT-R; n = 8, 6 females, 2 males) or functional HIIT (HIIT-F; n = 7, 5 females, 2 males). Over a four-week period, both groups performed 14 exercise sessions of either HIIT-R or, HIIT-F consisting of 3-4 sets of low-volume HIIT (8x 20 s, 10 s rest; set rest: 5 min). Training heart rate (HR) data were collected throughout all training sessions. Mean and peak HR during the training sessions were significantly different (p = 0.018 and p = 0.022, respectively) between training groups, with HIIT-F eliciting lower HR responses than the HIIT-R. However, despite these differences in exercise HR, VO2 max improved similarly (~13% for the HIIT-R versus ~11% for the HIIT-F, p=0.300). Muscular endurance (burpees and toes to bar) significantly improved (p =0.004 and p = 0.001, respectively) independent of training modality. These findings suggest that classic running HIIT and functional HIIT both improve VO2 max and affect muscular endurance to the same extent despite a lower cardiovascular strain in the functional protocol.

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