High Intensity Interval Training Leads to Greater Improvements in Acute Heart Rate Recovery and Anaerobic Power as High Volume Low Intensity Training

Front Physiol. 2017 Aug 2;8:562. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2017.00562. eCollection 2017.


The purpose of the current study was to explore if training regimes utilizing diverse training intensity distributions result in different responses on neuromuscular status, anaerobic capacity/power and acute heart rate recovery (HRR) in well-trained endurance athletes. Methods: Thirty-six male (n = 33) and female (n = 3) runners, cyclists, triathletes and cross-country skiers [peak oxygen uptake: (VO2peak): 61.9 ± 8.0 mL·kg-1·min-1] were randomly assigned to one of three groups (blocked high intensity interval training HIIT; polarized training POL; high volume low intensity oriented control group CG/HVLIT applying no HIIT). A maximal anaerobic running/cycling test (MART/MACT) was performed prior to and following a 9-week training period. Results: Only the HIIT group achieved improvements in peak power/velocity (+6.4%, P < 0.001) and peak lactate (P = 0.001) during the MART/MACT, while, unexpectedly, in none of the groups the performance at the established lactate concentrations (4, 6, 10 mmol·L-1) was changed (P > 0.05). Acute HRR was improved in HIIT (11.2%, P = 0.002) and POL (7.9%, P = 0.023) with no change in the HVLIT oriented control group. Conclusion: Only a training regime that includes a significant amount of HIIT improves the neuromuscular status, anaerobic power and the acute HRR in well-trained endurance athletes. A training regime that followed more a low and moderate intensity oriented model (CG/HVLIT) had no effect on any performance or HRR outcomes.

Keywords: MACT; lactate threshold; mart; maximal anaerobic running test; peak power; training intensity distribution.