Individual responses to completion of short-term and chronic interval training: a retrospective study

PLoS One. 2014 May 21;9(5):e97638. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0097638. eCollection 2014.


Alterations in maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max), heart rate (HR), and fat oxidation occur in response to chronic endurance training. However, many studies report frequent incidence of "non-responders" who do not adapt to continuous moderate exercise. Whether this is the case in response to high intensity interval training (HIT), which elicits similar adaptations as endurance training, is unknown. The aim of this retrospective study was to examine individual responses to two paradigms of interval training. In the first study (study 1), twenty active men and women (age and baseline VO2max=24.0 ± 4.6 yr and 42.8 ± 4.8 mL/kg/min) performed 6 d of sprint interval training (SIT) consisting of 4-6 Wingate tests per day, while in a separate study (study 2), 20 sedentary women (age and baseline VO2max=23.7 ± 6.2 yr and 30.0 ± 4.9 mL/kg/min) performed 12 wk of high-volume HIT at workloads ranging from 60-90% maximal workload. Individual changes in VO2max, HR, and fat oxidation were examined in each study, and multiple regression analysis was used to identify predictors of training adaptations to SIT and HIT. Data showed high frequency of increased VO2max (95%) and attenuated exercise HR (85%) in response to HIT, and low frequency of response for VO2max (65%) and exercise HR (55%) via SIT. Frequency of improved fat oxidation was similar (60-65%) across regimens. Only one participant across both interventions showed non-response for all variables. Baseline values of VO2max, exercise HR, respiratory exchange ratio, and body fat were significant predictors of adaptations to interval training. Frequency of positive responses to interval training seems to be greater in response to prolonged, higher volume interval training compared to similar durations of endurance training.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Circuit-Based Exercise*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult

Grants and funding

The authors have no support or funding to report.