Incline Treadmill Interval Training: Short vs. Long Bouts and the Effects on Distance Running Performance

Int J Sports Med. 2016 Nov;37(12):958-965. doi: 10.1055/s-0042-109539. Epub 2016 Aug 1.


This study compared 6 weeks of incline treadmill interval training (INC) performed on a 10% treadmill grade using either sprint-like efforts or slower, longer bouts. 24 individuals were randomly assigned between 2 groups that each completed 2 INC and one 30-min level-grade sessions∙wk-1. Training intensities, bout durations and the number of intervals per INC session were the velocity associated with VO2max (Vmax), 30 s and 10-14 (INCShort n=12), and 68%Vmax, ~3 min and 4-6 (INCLong n=12), respectively. All 30-min sessions were at 65%Vmax. Pre- and post-testing assessed VO2max; lactate threshold (VLT); running economy; and time-to-exhaustion at various conditions including 80%Vmax and 20% grade (CFMod). Both groups improved significantly in all tests; additionally, INCShort improved significantly more so in VLT and CFMod despite INCLong performing more than 2 times the running each INC session (P<0.05). Mean effect size (ES) of the relative improvement in a majority of tests revealed a trivial to very large ES of INCShort vs. INCLong training (ES range: 0.05-4.05). We conclude sprint-like INC better than slower, longer INC at improving a key determinant of distance running performance (VLT), and better at preparing individuals for running on courses with a variety of grades.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Athletic Performance / physiology*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lactic Acid / metabolism
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Physical Endurance / physiology*
  • Running / physiology*
  • Young Adult


  • Lactic Acid