High-Intensity Functional Training: Molecular Mechanisms and Benefits

Neuromolecular Med. 2021 Sep;23(3):335-338. doi: 10.1007/s12017-020-08638-8. Epub 2021 Jan 1.


High-intensity interval training (HIIT) and strength exercise are known to improve health markers, such as cardiovascular health, metabolic health, and cognitive function, as well as to reduce all-cause mortality. High-Intensity Functional Training (HIFT) is a training paradigm derived from both HIIT and strength exercise to elicit greater muscle recruitment than repetitive aerobic exercises, thereby improving both cardiovascular fitness and strength parameters. Herein, we provide a focused review of the known molecular mechanisms that underlie the beneficial effects of HIFT on cardiovascular, metabolic, and cognitive functions.

Keywords: Crossfit®; HIFT; HIIT; Mechanical tension; Resistance training; mTOR.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiovascular Physiological Phenomena
  • Cognition / physiology
  • High-Intensity Interval Training*
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / physiology
  • Mice
  • Muscle Proteins / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal / anatomy & histology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Neurogenesis / physiology
  • Organ Size
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal / physiology
  • Resistance Training*
  • Running / physiology


  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Muscle Proteins