High Intensity Interval Cycling Improves Physical Fitness in Trained Adults

Issue: Vol. 5 No 1

Published by Journal of Fitness Research, April 2016.

Tags: Exercise , Intervention , Cardiovascular , Metabolic , Musculoskeletal

Download PDF Version »

  1. Bailey A. Petersen
    Department of Kinesiology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, USA
  2. Bryce Hastings
    Les Mills International, Auckland, NZ
  3. Jinger S. Gottschall (Corresponding Author)
    Department of Kinesiology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, USA


Introduction: High intensity interval training (HIIT) is a specific type of vigorous intensity exercise characterised by periods of work over 85% maximum heart rate (HRmax). Numerous past studies have documented significant cardiovascular, metabolic, musculoskeletal, and body composition improvements with this type of training, traditionally with cycling Wingate tests. However, popular HIIT sessions outside of research typically incorporate weight-bearing impact, which limits large segments of the population from participating. Thus, a low-impact alternative in a practical format with parallel benefits is an imperative option that requires testing.

Methods: Thirty-six trained adults were randomly assigned to one of two groups: Group HIIT or Group FIT. Group HIIT participants replaced a single 60-minute cardiovascular training session with 2, 30-minute high intensity indoor cycling sessions for 6 weeks. Group FIT maintained their current training routine. We measured blood pressure, peak oxygen consumption, fasting blood profile, body composition, and leg strength.

Results: The HIIT intervention significantly improved all variables (p<0.05) except HDL cholesterol. Peak oxygen consumption and leg strength increased significantly for the HIIT group (+9.7% and 11.9% respectively) but not the FIT group. There were significant decreases in the HIIT group for blood pressure (-9.9%), fasting blood glucose (-7.0%), total cholesterol (-6.0%), LDL cholesterol (-7.8%), triglycerides (-16.3%) and fat mass (-1.1%). 

Conclusion: Adding high intensity interval cycling to the routine of trained adults improved physical fitness. Our results suggest that replacing one bout of moderate intensity exercise with two 30-minute bouts of cycling HIIT is an effective, low impact option to improve cardiovascular, metabolic and musculoskeletal fitness, as well as body composition.

Download PDF Version »

ISSN 2201-5655 © 2014, Australian Institute of Fitness

Related Articles

Also In This Issue

« Back to Articles

Article Title

High Intensity Interval Cycling Improves Physical Fitness in Trained Adults

Journal Title

Journal of Fitness Research

Online Publication Date

April 2016

Author Names

Bailey A. Petersen
Bryce Hastings
Jinger S. Gottschall (Corresponding Author)

1. Paffenbarger Jr, RS, Hyde, RT, Wing, AL, Lee, IM, Jung, DL, Kampert, JB. (1993). The association of changes in physical-activity level and other lifestyle characteristics with mortality among men. New England Journal of Medicine. 328(8): 538-545.

2. Lee, IM, Hsieh, CC, Paffenbarger, RS. (1995). Exercise intensity and longevity in men: the Harvard Alumni Health Study. The Journal of the American Medical Association. 273(15): 1179-1184.

3. Myers, J, Prakash, M, Froelicher V, Do, D, Partington S, Atwood, JE. (2002) Exercise capacity and mortality among men referred for exercise testing. New England Journal of Medicine.346(11): 793-801.

4. Swain, DP, Franklin, BA. (2006). Comparison of cardioprotective benefits of vigorous versus moderate intensity aerobic exercise. The American Journal of Cardiology. 97(1): 141-147.

5. Löllgen, H, Böckenhoff, A, Knapp, G. (2009). Physical Activity and All-cause Mortality: An Updated Meta-analysis with Different Intensity Categories. International Journal of Sports Medicine. 30(3): 213-224.

6. Laursen, PB, Jenkins, DG (2002). The Scientific Basis for High-Intensity Interval Training: Optimising Training Programmes and Maximising Performance in Highly Trained Endurance Athletes. Sports Medicine. 32: 53-73.

7. Bailey, SJ, Wilkerson, DP, DiMenna, FJ, Jones, AM. (2009). Influence of repeated sprint training on pulmonary O2 uptake and muscle deoxygenation kinetics in humans. Journal of Applied Physiology. 106(6): 1875-1887.

8. Hazell, TJ, MacPherson, RE, Gravelle, BM, Lemon, PW. (2010). 10 or 30-s sprint interval training bouts enhance both aerobic and anaerobic performance. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 110(1): 153-160.

9. Astorino, TA, Roberson, AR, Jurancich, DW. (2012). Effect of high-intensity interval training on cardiovascular function, vo2max, and muscular force. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 26(1): 138–145. 

10. Burgomaster, KA, Howarth, KR, Phillips, SM, Rakobowchuk, M, MacDonald, MJ, McGee, SL, Gibala, MJ. (2008). Similar metabolic adaptations during exercise after low volume sprint interval and traditional endurance training in humans. Journal of Physiology. 586(1): 151-160.

11. Helgerud, J, Hoydal, K, Wang, E, Karlsen, T, Berg, P, Bjerkaas, M, Simonsen, T, Helgesen, C, Hjorth,N, Bach, R. (2007). Aerobic High-Intensity Intervals Improve VO2max More Than Moderate Training. Med Sci Sports Ex 39(4): 665.

12. Nybo, L, Sundstrup, E, Jakobsen, MD, Mohr, M, Hornstrup, T, Simonsen, L, Bulow, J, Randers, MB, Nielson, JJ, Aagaard, P. (2010). High-intensity training versus traditional exercise interventions for promoting health. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 42(10): 1951-1958.

13. Gottschall, JS, Bopp, CM, Hastings, B. (2014). The Addition of High Intensity Interval Training Reduces Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors and Enhances Strength in Active, Healthy Adults. Open Journal of Preventative Medicine. 4: 275-282.

14. Sandvei, M, Jeppesen, PB, Støen L, Litleskare, S, Johansen, E, Stensrud, T, Enoksen, E, Hautala, A, Martinmäki, K, Kinnunen, H. (2012). Sprint interval running increases insulin sensitivity in young healthy subjects. Archives of Physiological Biochemistry. 118(3): 139-147.

15. Keatin,g SE, Machan, EA, O’Connor, HT, Gerofi, JA, Sainsbury, A, Caterson, ID, Johnson, NA. (2014). Continuous exercise but not high intensity interval training improves fat distribution in overweight adults. Journal of Obesity v2014.

16. Babraj, JA, Vollaard, NB, Keast, C, Guppy, FM, Cottrell, G, Timmons, JA. (2009). Extremely short duration high intensity interval training substantially improves insulin action in young healthy males. BMC Endocrine Disorders 9:3.

17. Richards, JC, Johnson, JK, Kuzma, JN, Lonac, MC, Schweder, MM, Voyles, WF, Bell, C (2010). Short-term sprint interval training increases insulin sensitivity in healthy adults but does not affect the thermogenic response to β-adrenergic stimulation. Journal of Physiology. 588(Pt 15): 2961-2972.

18. Whyte, LJ, Gill, JMR, Cathcart, AJ. (2010). Effect of 2 weeks of sprint interval training on health-related outcomes in sedentary overweight/obese men. Metabolism 59(10): 1421-1428.

19. Moreira, MM, Souza, HP, Schwingel, PA, Sa, CK Zoppi, CC. (2008). Effects of aerobic and anaerobic exercise on cardiac risk variables in overweight adults. Arquivos brasileiros de cardiologia 91(4): 219-226.

20. Trapp, E, Chisholm, D, Freund, J, Boutcher, S.(2008). The effects of high-intensity intermittent exercise training on fat loss and fasting insulin levels of young women. International Journal of Obesity. 32(4): 684-691.

21. Gillen, JB, Percival, ME, Ludzki, A, Tarnopolsky, MA, Gibala, M. (2013). Interval training in the fed or fasted state improves body composition and muscle oxidative capacity in overweight women. Obesity. 21(11): 2249-2255.

22. Pollock, ML, Gaesser, GA, Butcher, JD, Despres, JP, Dishman, RK, Franklin, BA, Garber, CE. (1998). ACSM position stand: the recommended quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, and flexibility in healthy adults. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. (30): 975-991.

23. Heydari, M, Boutcher, YN, Boutcher, SH. (2013). High-intensity intermittent exercise and cardiovascular and autonomic function. Clinical Autonomic Research. 23(1): 57-65.

24. Esfandiari, S, Sasson, Z, Goodman, J. (2014). Short-term high-intensity interval and continuous moderate-intensity training improve maximal aerobic power and diastolic filling during exercise. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 114(2): 331-343.

25. Ouerghi, N, Khammassi, M, Boukorraa, S, Feki, M, Kaabachi, N, Bouassida, A. (2014). Effects of a high-intensity intermittent training program on aerobic capacity and lipid profile in trained subjects. Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine. 5: 243.

26. Macpherson, R, Hazell, TJ, Olver, TD, Paterson, DH, Lemon, P. (2011). Run sprint interval training improves aerobic performance but not maximal cardiac output. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 43(1): 115-122.

27. Frey, MA, Doerr, BM, Laubach, LL, Mann, BL, Glueck, CJ. (1982). Exercise does not change high-density lipoprotein cholesterol in women after ten weeks of training. Metabolism. 31(11): 1142-1146.

28. Yoshioka, M, Doucet, E, St-Pierre, S, Almeras, N, Richard, D, Labrie, A, Despres, JP, Bouchard C, Tremblay A. (2001). Impact of high-intensity exercise on energy expenditure, lipid oxidation and body fatness. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders. 25(3): 332-339.

29. Jensen J, Ruge T, Lai, YC, Svensson, MK, Eriksson, JW. (2011). Effects of adrenaline on whole-body glucose metabolism and insulin-mediated regulation of glycogen synthase and PKB phosphorylation in human skeletal muscle. Metabolism. 60(2): 215-226.

30. Gillen, JB, Gibala, MJ. (2013). Is high-intensity interval training a time-efficient exercise strategy to improve health and fitness? Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism. 39(3): 409-412.

No citations available


Blog comments powered by Disqus