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Physiological Responses to High-Intensity Interval Exercise Differing in Interval Duration

Tucker, Wesley J.1; Sawyer, Brandon J.2,3; Jarrett, Catherine L.1; Bhammar, Dharini M.4; Gaesser, Glenn A.1

Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: December 2015 - Volume 29 - Issue 12 - p 3326–3335
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001000
Original Research

Tucker, WJ, Sawyer, BJ, Jarrett, CL, Bhammar, DM, and Gaesser, GA. Physiological responses to high-intensity interval exercise differing in interval duration. J Strength Cond Res 29(12): 3326–3335, 2015—We determined the oxygen uptake (V[Combining Dot Above]O2), heart rate (HR), and blood lactate responses to 2 high-intensity interval exercise protocols differing in interval length. On separate days, 14 recreationally active males performed a 4 × 4 (four 4-minute intervals at 90–95% HRpeak, separated by 3-minute recovery at 50 W) and 16 × 1 (sixteen 1-minute intervals at 90–95% HRpeak, separated by 1-minute recovery at 50 W) protocol on a cycle ergometer. The 4 × 4 elicited a higher mean V[Combining Dot Above]O2 (2.44 ± 0.4 vs. 2.36 ± 0.4 L·min−1) and “peak” V[Combining Dot Above]O2 (90–99% vs. 76–85% V[Combining Dot Above]O2peak) and HR (95–98% HRpeak vs. 81–95% HRpeak) during the high-intensity intervals. Average power maintained was higher for the 16 × 1 (241 ± 45 vs. 204 ± 37 W), and recovery interval V[Combining Dot Above]O2 and HR were higher during the 16 × 1. No differences were observed for blood lactate concentrations at the midpoint (12.1 ± 2.2 vs. 10.8 ± 3.1 mmol·L−1) and end (10.6 ± 1.5 vs. 10.6 ± 2.4 mmol·L−1) of the protocols or ratings of perceived exertion (7.0 ± 1.6 vs. 7.0 ± 1.4) and Physical Activity Enjoyment Scale scores (91 ± 15 vs. 93 ± 12). Despite a 4-fold difference in interval duration that produced greater between-interval transitions in V[Combining Dot Above]O2 and HR and slightly higher mean V[Combining Dot Above]O2 during the 4 × 4, mean HR during each protocol was the same, and both protocols were rated similarly for perceived exertion and enjoyment. The major difference was that power output had to be reduced during the 4 × 4 protocol to maintain the desired HR.

1Exercise Science and Health Promotion Program, Healthy Lifestyles Research Center, Arizona State University, Phoenix, Arizona;

Departments of 2Kinesiology;

3Biology, Point Loma Nazarene University, San Diego, California; and

4Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine, Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas

Address correspondence to Glenn A. Gaesser,

Copyright © 2015 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.