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Interval training in the boundaries of severe domain: effects on aerobic parameters

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Although time spent at \(\dot{V}\)O2max (t@\(\dot{V}\)O2max) has been suggested as an optimal stimulus for the promotion of greater \(\dot{V}\)O2max improvements, scientific findings supporting this notion are surprisingly still lacking. To investigate this, the present study described t@\(\dot{V}\)O2max in two different severe-intensity interval training regimens and compared its effects on aerobic indexes after a 4-week intervention.


Twenty-one recreational cyclists performed an incremental exercise test and six time-to-exhaustion tests on four different days to determine \(\dot{V}\)O2max, lactate threshold (LT), critical power (CP) and the highest intensity (I HIGH) and lowest exercise duration (T LOW) at which \(\dot{V}\)O2max was attained. Subjects were assigned to the lower (LO, n = 11, 4 × 5 min at 105 % CP, 1 min recovery) or the upper severe-intensity training groups (UP, n = 10, 8 × 60 % T LOW at 100 % I HIGH, 1:2 work:recovery ratio). t@\(\dot{V}\)O2max was measured during the first and last training sessions.


A significantly higher t@\(\dot{V}\)O2max was elicited in the UP during training sessions in comparison with the LO group (P < 0.05), and superior improvements were observed in \(\dot{V}\)O2max (change in measure ±95 % confidence interval) (6.3 ± 1.9 vs. 3.3 ± 1.8 %, P = 0.034 for interaction terms) and LT (54.8 ± 11.8 vs. 27.9 ± 11.3 %, P = 0.023 for interaction terms). The other aerobic indexes were similarly improved between the groups.


The present results demonstrated that UP training produced superior gains in \(\dot{V}\)O2max and LT in comparison with LO training, which may be associated with the higher t@\(\dot{V}\)O2max.

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Fig. 1
Fig. 2

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Critical power


High-intensity interval training


The highest constant intensity at which \(\dot{V}\)O2max is attained


Lower severe-intensity exercise domain training group


Lactate threshold


Maximal aerobic power


Standard error of estimate


Time spent at maximum oxygen uptake


Time to exhaustion


The lowest exercise duration at which \(\dot{V}\)O2max is attained


Upper severe-intensity exercise domain training group

\(\dot{V}\)O2 :

Oxygen uptake


Maximum oxygen uptake


Highest average \(\dot{V}\)O2 over a 15-s period


Work capacity above critical power


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We would like to express our gratitude to all colleagues who contributed and to the subjects in this study. This study was supported by the National Council of Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) and Santa Catarina State Research Foundation (FAPESC).

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Correspondence to Tiago Turnes.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. The results of the current study do not constitute endorsement of the product by the authors or the journal.

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Communicated by Susan Hopkins.

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Turnes, T., de Aguiar, R.A., Cruz, R.S. et al. Interval training in the boundaries of severe domain: effects on aerobic parameters. Eur J Appl Physiol 116, 161–169 (2016).

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