Quantifying the effects of four weeks of low-volume high-intensity sprint interval training on V̇O2max through assessment of hemodynamics

Dan Gordon, Patrick Swain, Don Keiller, Viviane Merzbach, Marie Gernigon, Henry Chung
Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2020, 60 (1): 53-61

BACKGROUND: Sprint interval training is a popular workout modality. Studies have eluded to a positive effect on maximal oxygen uptake, however little is known about the mechanistic basis of this adaptation. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine the effects of a short-term high-intensity sprint interval training (SIT) intervention on V̇O2max through quantification of both the respiratory and hemodynamic responses.

METHODS: Thirty-six physically active participants undertook 4 weeks of either cycling-based SIT (8×20 s at 170% P-V̇O2max with 10 s recovery) or continuous exercise training (CET) (30 min at 70% P-V̇O2max) 3 times per week. V̇O2max, blood-based markers and hemodynamic responses were assessed pre and post the intervention period. V̇O2max was assessed using breath-by-breath open circuit spirometry, while hemodynamic responses were monitored using thoracic impedance cardiography.

RESULTS: V̇O2max exhibited a non-significant 4.1% increase (ES=0.24) for SIT with 7.0% P=0.007 (ES=0.40) increase for CET. Hemodynamic responses (maximal cardiac output, maximal stroke volume) displayed non-significant responses for CET and SIT while a-vO2dif-max increased from 15.8±4.8 to 18.3±2.9 mL/100 mL) (P=0.02) (ES=0.63) in SIT.

CONCLUSIONS: V̇O2max is a function of maximal cardiac output and a-vO2dif-max, so for a meaningful change to occur in cardiorespiratory fitness, there must be a concomitant increase in O2 delivery. This study demonstrates that a low volume SIT intervention evokes peripherally mediated responses (a-vO2dif) and anaerobic substrate utilization rather than O2 delivery components. Future works should address the time course of the responses and when assessing V̇O2max-based responses that due attention be given to the hemodynamic responses as means of quantification of the response.

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