High-intensity Training versus Traditional Exercise Interventions for Promoting Health

Lars Nybo; Emil Sundstrup; Markus D. Jakobsen; Magni Mohr; Therese Hornstrup; Lene Simonsen; Jens Bülow; Morten B. Randers; Jens J. Nielsen; Per Aagaard; Peter Krustrup


Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010;42(10):1951-1958. 

In This Article


Aerobic Fitness and Cardiovascular Adaptations

Although the total training time in the INT group was less than one-third of the time completed by the two other training groups, the intense interval training induced an increase in maximal oxygen uptake, which was superior to the other two training interventions (Fig. 1). Thus, the improvement in V̇O2max was almost twofold higher in INT as compared with MOD, whereas there were no significant changes in the STR and CON groups. Systolic blood pressure was reduced by 8 mm Hg in all three training groups. In contrast, resting HR and diastolic blood pressure were reduced to a lesser extend in INT compared with MOD (Table 2). The prolonged running group also had a significant increase in capillaries per fiber, whereas capillarization remained unchanged in the INT group. HR during walking and during submaximal running was reduced to a similar degree in the INT and MOD groups (Table 2).

Figure 1.

Percentage changes in maximal oxygen consumption for the intense interval running (INT), prolonged moderate intense running (MOD), strength training (STR), and control (CON) groups during the 12-wk intervention period. *Significant increase from pre- to posttraining (P < 0.05); #Significant larger response compared with the MOD group (P < 0.05).

Metabolic Fitness

Although aerobic fitness was enhanced in the INT group and the relative exercise intensity at a given submaximal load accordingly became reduced, there were no changes in fat oxidation during walking at 6.5 km·h−1 or submaximal running at 9.5 km·h−1 (Table 3). Fat oxidation during walking also remained unchanged in the other groups, but energy turnover from fat oxidation was enhanced during submaximal running in the MOD group (Table 3). The enhanced capacity for fat oxidation was not related to changes in HAD activity, and neither HAD nor CS measured in the biopsy from musculus vastus lateralis was significantly changed in any of the three training groups (Table 3).

HDL, LDL, and total cholesterol and accordingly the ratio between total and HDL cholesterol remained unchanged during the 12-wk period in the INT group (Table 3). In contrast, the ratio between total and HDL cholesterol decreased significantly in the MOD group and tended to be lower in STR after the 12 wk of training (see Fig. 2 and Table 3).

Figure 2.

Reductions in the ratio between total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol for the intense interval running (INT), prolonged moderate intense running (MOD), strength training (STR), and control (CON) groups during the 12-wk period. *Significant change from pre- to posttraining (P < 0.05).

Both fasting blood glucose and blood glucose concentration 2 h after oral ingestion of 75 g of glucose were reduced to a similar extent in INT and MOD, whereas fasting glucose and blood glucose response to the OGTT remained unaltered in STR and CON (Table 3). Fasting insulin levels were not changed in any of the three training groups.

Lean Body, Bone Mass, and Fat Percentage

There were no significant changes in total body weight, total and leg lean body mass, fat percentage, total bone mass, or leg bone mass in the INT group (Table 1). In contrast, MOD training induced a significant reduction in the subject body weight and fat percentage, and the group that performed strength training increased their body weight and had significant increases in total and leg lean body mass (Table 1). Furthermore, the DEXA scans revealed that the STR group had significant increases in total and leg bone mass (Table 1).


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