European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 117, Issue 3, pp 469–482 | Cite as

Neuromuscular adaptations to sprint interval training and the effect of mammalian omega-3 fatty acid supplementation

  • Evan J. H. LewisEmail author
  • Frédéric Stucky
  • Peter W. Radonic
  • Adam H. Metherel
  • Thomas M. S. Wolever
  • Greg D. Wells
Original Article



Sprint interval training (SIT) stimulates rapid metabolic adaptations within skeletal muscle but the nature of neuromuscular adaptions is unknown. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (N-3 PUFA) are suggested to enhance neuromuscular adaptations to exercise.


We measured the neuromuscular adaptations to SIT (Study-1) and conducted a placebo-controlled randomized double blinded study to determine the effect of N-3 PUFA supplementation on neuromuscular adaptations to SIT (Study-2). In Study-1, seven active men (24.4 ± 2.6 years, VO2 peak 43.8 ± 8.7 ml kg min−1) completed 2-weeks of SIT with pre- and post-training 10 km cycling time trials (TT). In Study-2, 30 active men (24.5 ± 4.2 years, VO2 peak 41.0 ± 5.1 ml kg min−1) were randomly assigned to receive N-3 PUFA (2330 mg day−1) (n = 14) or olive oil (n = 16) during 2-weeks of SIT with pre- and post-training TTs. Four week post-training, a SIT session and TT were also performed. Change in neuromuscular function was assessed from resting twitches, quadriceps maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) force, and potentiated twitch force (Q tw).


Study-1 showed that SIT did not elicit significant neuromuscular adaptations. Study-2 showed that N-3 PUFA supplementation had no significant effect on neuromuscular adaptations. Training caused lower MVC force [mean ± SD; N-3 PUFA −9 ± 11%, placebo −9 ± 13% (p < 0.05 time)] and Q tw peripheral fatigue [N-3 PUFA −10 ± 19%, placebo −14 ± 13% (p < 0.05 time)]. TT time was lower after training in all groups [Study-1 −10%, Study-2 N-3 PUFA −8%, placebo −12% (p < 0.05 time)].


Two weeks of SIT improved TT performance in the absence of measurable neuromuscular adaptations. N-3 PUFA supplementation had no significant effect on SIT training adaptations.


Sprint interval training Omega-3 Neuromuscular Adaptations to training Nutrition supplementation 



Docosahexaenoic acid


Docosapentaenoic acid


Electromechanical delay




Eicosapentaenoic acid


Heart rate


Low-force frequency fatigue


M-wave amplitude




Monocarboxylate transporter


Maximal voluntary contraction


Polyunsaturated fatty acid


Potentiated twitch force


Rate of force development


Sprint interval training


Twitch area under the curve


Time to half relaxation


Twitch peak force


Twitch rate of force development


Twitch time to peak force


Time trial


Voluntary activation


Vastus lateralis


Vastus medialis


Volume of oxygen consumed


Watt max



The authors appreciate the help of Cathie Kessler for her technical assistance building the isometric dynamometer and MatLab program for analysis. Thank you to Dr. Bazinet’s laboratory for performing plasma fatty acid analysis and to Ms. Joy Hur assisting with data management. The omega-3 and placebo supplements for this study were donated by Auum Inc.

Compliance with ethical standards


EJHL was supported by an Ontario Graduate Scholarship, Banting and Best Diabetes Centre studentship and a Peterborough K. M. Hunter scholarship. Equipment for this study was purchased from an Ontario Ministry of Tourism Culture and Sport, Research Program in Applied Sport Sciences operating grant to EJHL.

Conflict of interest

EJHL has received speaking fees and conference travel support from Auum Inc. TMSW is a part owner, President, and Medical Director of Glycemic Index Laboratories, Toronto, Canada and has authored several popular diet books on the glycemic index for which he has received royalties from Phillipa Sandall Publishing Services and CABI Publishers. He has received consultant fees, honoraria, travel funding, or served on the scientific advisory board for McCain Foods, Temasek Polytechnic, Singapore, Glycemic Index Symbol program, CreaNutrition AG, and the National Sports and Conditioning Association. His wife is an employee and part owner of Glycemic Index Laboratories.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Center for Sports Medicine, Swiss Olympic Medical CenterUniversity Hospital of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland
  3. 3.Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical EducationUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  4. 4.Physiology and Experimental MedicineThe Hospital for Sick ChildrenTorontoCanada

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