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European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 118, Issue 6, pp 1153–1167 | Cite as

Effects of low-volume high-intensity interval training in a community setting: a pilot study

  • Dejan Reljic
  • Felix Wittmann
  • Joachim E. Fischer
Original Article

Abstract

Purpose

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.

Methods

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.

Results

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).

Conclusions

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.

Keywords

HIIT Real-world setting Cardiorespiratory fitness Cardiometabolic health Feasibility Time-efficient exercise 

Abbreviations

2 × 4-HIIT

2 × 4 min high-intensity interval training protocol

5 × 1-HIIT

5 × 1 min high-intensity interval training protocol

ANOVA

Analysis of variance

BG

Blood glucose

CPGQ

Chronic Pain Grade Questionnaire

g

Gram

HDL

High-density lipoprotein

HIIT

High-intensity interval training

HR

Heart rate

HRmax

Maximal heart rate

kcal

Kilokalories

LDL

Low-density lipoprotein

MAP

Mean arterial blood pressure

MetS-Z-Score

Metabolic Syndrome Z-Score

µL

Microliter

MICT

Moderate-intensity continuous training

mL·kg−1·min−1

Millilitres per kilogram body mass per minute

mmol·L−1

Millimoles per liter

O2

Oxygen

OBLA

Onset of blood lactate accumulation

PSQ

Perceived Stress Questionnaire

TG

Triglycerides

VO2max

Maximal oxygen uptake

W

Watt

WAI

Work Ability Index

WC

Waist circumference

Wmax

Maximal power output

Notes

Acknowledgements

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.

Author contributions

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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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Medicine 1-Gastroenterology, Pneumology and Endocrinology, Hector-Center for Nutrition, Exercise and SportsUniversity Hospital ErlangenErlangenGermany
  2. 2.Mannheim Institute of Public Health, Social and Preventive Medicine, Medical Faculty MannheimHeidelberg UniversityMannheimGermany

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