Effects of low-volume high-intensity interval training in a community setting: a pilot study
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is emerging as an effective and time-efficient exercise strategy for health promotion. However, most HIIT studies are conducted in laboratory settings and evidence regarding the efficacy of time-efficient “low-volume” HIIT is based mainly on demanding “all-out” protocols. Thus, the aim of this pilot study was to assess the feasibility and efficacy of two low-volume (≤ 30 min time-effort/week), non-all-out HIIT protocols, performed 2 ×/week over 8 weeks in a community-based fitness centre.
Thirty-four sedentary men and women were randomised to either 2 × 4-min HIIT (2 × 4-HIIT) or 5 × 1-min HIIT (5 × 1-HIIT) at 85–95% maximal heart rate (HRmax), or an active control group performing moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT, 76 min/week) at 65–75% HRmax.
The exercise protocols were well tolerated and no adverse events occurred. 2 × 4-HIIT and 5 × 1-HIIT exhibited lower dropout rates (17 and 8 vs. 30%) than MICT. All training modes improved VO2max (2 × 4-HIIT: + 20%, P < 0.01; 5 × 1-HIIT: + 27%, P < 0.001; MICT: + 16%, P < 0.05), but the HIIT protocols required 60% less time commitment. Both HIIT protocols and MICT had positive impact on cholesterol profiles. Only 5 × 1-HIIT significantly improved waist circumference (P < 0.05) and subjective work ability (P < 0.05).
The present study indicates that low-volume HIIT can be feasibly implemented in a community-based setting. Moreover, our data suggest that practical (non-all-out) HIIT that requires as little as 30 min/week, either performed as 2 × 4-HIIT or 5 × 1-HIIT, may induce significant improvements in VO2max and cardiometabolic risk markers.
KeywordsHIIT Real-world setting Cardiorespiratory fitness Cardiometabolic health Feasibility Time-efficient exercise
- 2 × 4-HIIT
2 × 4 min high-intensity interval training protocol
- 5 × 1-HIIT
5 × 1 min high-intensity interval training protocol
Analysis of variance
Chronic Pain Grade Questionnaire
High-intensity interval training
Maximal heart rate
Mean arterial blood pressure
Metabolic Syndrome Z-Score
Moderate-intensity continuous training
Millilitres per kilogram body mass per minute
Millimoles per liter
Onset of blood lactate accumulation
Perceived Stress Questionnaire
Maximal oxygen uptake
Work Ability Index
Maximal power output
No funding was received for this study. We would like to thank the Pfitzenmeier Premium Club Mannheim Neckarau headed by Haki Kadria and Tobias Kleine-Nathland for their outstanding cooperation. In particular, we thank Esther Giesewetter, André Luqueba, Stephan Steinicke, Danijel Ber, Paula Rosenfelder, and Daniel Lambor for supervising the exercise classes. We would also like to thank Wiebke Würdemann and Irina Peil for their professional assistance during data collection. We thank David Litaker for his valuable assistance and proofreading the manuscript. We are especially grateful to all study participants for their willingness to participate in this study.
DR and JF conceived and designed research. DR and FW conducted measurements and exercise tests. DR analyzed data. DR wrote the manuscript. All authors read and approved the manuscript.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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