European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 119, Issue 8, pp 1701–1709 | Cite as

Cardiorespiratory coordination reveals training-specific physiological adaptations

  • S. Garcia-Retortillo
  • M. Gacto
  • T. J. O’Leary
  • M. Noon
  • R. Hristovski
  • N. Balagué
  • M. G. MorrisEmail author
Original Article



To compare the effects of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and moderate-intensity training (CONT), matched for total work, on cardiorespiratory coordination and aerobic fitness.


This is a two-arm parallel group single-blind randomised study. Twenty adults were assigned to 6 weeks of HIIT or volume-matched CONT. Participants completed a progressive maximal cycling test before and after the training period. Principal component (PC) analysis was performed on the series of cardiorespiratory variables to evaluate dimensionality of cardiorespiratory coordination, before and after lactate turnpoint. PC1 eigenvalues were compared.


Both HIIT and CONT improved aerobic fitness (main effects of time, p < 0.001, \( \eta_{\text{p}}^{2} \) ≥ 0.580), with no differences between groups. CONT decreased the number of PCs from two to one at intensities both below and above the lactate turnpoint; PC1 eigenvalues increased after CONT both below (Z = 2.08; p = 0.04; d = 0.94) and above the lactate turnpoint (Z = 2.10; p = 0.04; d = 1.37). HIIT decreased the number of PCs from two to one after the lactate turnpoint only; PC1 eigenvalues increased after HIIT above the lactate turnpoint (Z = 2.31; p = 0.02; d = 0.42).


Although CONT and HIIT improved aerobic fitness to a similar extent, there were different patterns of change for cardiorespiratory coordination. These changes appear training-intensity specific and could be sensitive to investigate the individual response to endurance training.


Endurance training High-intensity interval training Moderate-intensity continuous training Coordinative variables Principal component analysis 



The authors wish to express gratitude to all research participants. This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Author contribution

All authors contributed to study design, data analysis and manuscript preparation.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Garcia-Retortillo
    • 1
    • 2
  • M. Gacto
    • 1
  • T. J. O’Leary
    • 5
  • M. Noon
    • 3
  • R. Hristovski
    • 4
  • N. Balagué
    • 2
  • M. G. Morris
    • 3
    • 6
    Email author
  1. 1.University School of Health and Sport (EUSES)University of GironaGironaSpain
  2. 2.Complex Systems in Sport, Institut Nacional d’Educació Física de Catalunya (INEFC)Universitat de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.School of Life SciencesCoventry UniversityCoventryUK
  4. 4.Faculty of Physical Education, Sport and HealthSs Cyril and Methodius University of SkopjeSkopjeRepublic of Macedonia
  5. 5.Army Personnel Research CapabilityHQ ArmyAndoverUK
  6. 6.Oxford Brookes UniversityOxfordUK

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