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Randomized Controlled Trial
. 2013 May 29;8(5):e65382.
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0065382. Print 2013.

Low- And High-Volume of Intensive Endurance Training Significantly Improves Maximal Oxygen Uptake After 10-weeks of Training in Healthy Men

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Randomized Controlled Trial

Low- And High-Volume of Intensive Endurance Training Significantly Improves Maximal Oxygen Uptake After 10-weeks of Training in Healthy Men

Arnt Erik Tjønna et al. PLoS One. .
Free PMC article


Regular exercise training improves maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max), but the optimal intensity and volume necessary to obtain maximal benefit remains to be defined. A growing body of evidence suggests that exercise training with low-volume but high-intensity may be a time-efficient means to achieve health benefits. In the present study, we measured changes in VO2max and traditional cardiovascular risk factors after a 10 wk. training protocol that involved three weekly high-intensity interval sessions. One group followed a protocol which consisted of 4×4 min at 90% of maximal heart rate (HRmax) interspersed with 3 min active recovery at 70% HRmax (4-AIT), the other group performed a single bout protocol that consisted of 1×4 min at 90% HRmax (1-AIT). Twenty-six inactive but otherwise healthy overweight men (BMI: 25-30, age: 35-45 y) were randomized to either 1-AIT (n = 11) or 4-AIT (n = 13). After training, VO2max increased by 10% (∼5.0 mL⋅kg(-1)⋅min(-1)) and 13% (∼6.5 mL⋅kg(-1)⋅min(-1)) after 1-AIT and 4-AIT, respectively (group difference, p = 0.08). Oxygen cost during running at a sub-maximal workload was reduced by 14% and 13% after 1-AIT and 4-AIT, respectively. Systolic blood pressure decreased by 7.1 and 2.6 mmHg after 1-AIT and 4-AIT respectively, while diastolic pressure decreased by 7.7 and 6.1 mmHg (group difference, p = 0.84). Both groups had a similar ∼5% decrease in fasting glucose. Body fat, total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, and ox-LDL cholesterol only were significantly reduced after 4-AIT. Our data suggest that a single bout of AIT performed three times per week may be a time-efficient strategy to improve VO2max and reduce blood pressure and fasting glucose in previously inactive but otherwise healthy middle-aged individuals. The 1-AIT type of exercise training may be readily implemented as part of activities of daily living and could easily be translated into programs designed to improve public health.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.govNCT00839579.

Conflict of interest statement

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.


Figure 1
Figure 1. Flow chart of the study design.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) (A). Maximal oxygen pulse (B). Work economy presented as submaximal oxygen uptake (C). Data represents mean (SD).

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The present study was supported by grants from the K.G Jebsen Foundation, Norwegian Council of Cardiovascular Disease, the Norwegian Research Council (Funding for Outstanding Young Investigators; Dr Wisløff), and funds for Cardiovascular and Medical Research at St Olav's University Hospital, Trondheim, and the Eckbos Foundation, Oslo. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.