Sports Med. 2002;32(1):53-73. Related Articles, Links
The scientific basis for high-intensity interval training: optimising
training programmes and maximising performance in highly trained endurance
Laursen PB, Jenkins DG.
School of Human Movement Studies, University of Queensland, Brisbane,
While the physiological adaptations that occur following endurance training
in previously sedentary and recreationally active individuals are relatively
well understood, the adaptations to training in already highly trained
endurance athletes remain unclear. While significant improvements
in endurance performance and corresponding physiological markers are evident
following submaximal endurance training in sedentary and recreationally
active groups, an additional increase in submaximal training (i.e. volume)
in highly trained individuals does not appear to further enhance either
endurance performance or associated physiological variables [e.g. peak
oxygen uptake (VO2peak), oxidative enzyme activity].
It seems that,
for athletes who are already trained, improvements in endurance performance
can be achieved only through high-intensity interval training (HIT).
The limited research which has examined changes in muscle enzyme activity
in highly trained athletes, following HIT, has revealed no change in oxidative
or glycolytic enzyme activity, despite significant improvements in endurance
performance (p < 0.05). Instead, an increase in skeletal muscle buffering
capacity may be one mechanism responsible for an improvement in endurance
Changes in plasma
volume, stroke volume, as well as muscle cation pumps, myoglobin, capillary
density and fibre type characteristics have yet to be investigated in
response to HIT with the highly trained athlete. Information relating
to HIT programme optimisation in endurance athletes is also very sparse.
Preliminary work using
the velocity at which VO2max is achieved (V(max)) as the interval intensity,
and fractions (50 to 75%) of the time to exhaustion at V(max) (T(max))
as the interval duration has been successful in eliciting improvements
in performance in long-distance runners. However, V(max) and T(max) have
not been used with cyclists. Instead, HIT programme optimisation research
in cyclists has revealed that repeated supramaximal sprinting may be equally
effective as more traditional HIT programmes for eliciting improvements
in endurance performance.
of the biochemical and physiological adaptations which accompany different
HIT programmes, as well as investigation into the optimal HIT programme
for eliciting performance enhancements in highly trained athletes is required.