To examine the effect of low-volume sprint interval training (SIT) on the development (part 1) and subsequent maintenance (part 2) of aerobic fitness in soccer players.
In part 1, 23 players from the same semiprofessional team participated in a 2-wk SIT intervention (SIT, n = 14, age 25 ± 4 y, weight 77 ± 8 kg; control, n = 9, age 27 ± 6 y, weight 72 ± 10 kg). The SIT group performed 6 training sessions of 4–6 maximal 30-s sprints, in replacement of regular aerobic training. The control group continued with their regular training. After this 2-wk intervention, the SIT group was allocated to either intervention (n = 7, 1 SIT session/wk as replacement of regular aerobic training) or control (n = 7, regular aerobic training with no SIT sessions) for a 5-wk period (part 2). Pre and post measures were the YoYo Intermittent Recovery Test Level 1 (YYIRL1) and maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max).
In part 1, the 2-week SIT intervention had a small beneficial effect on YYIRL1 (17%; 90% confidence limits ±11%), and VO2max (3.1%; ±5.0%) compared with control. In part 2, 1 SIT session/wk for 5 wk had a small beneficial effect on VO2max (4.2%; ±3.0%), with an unclear effect on YYIRL1 (8%; ±16%).
Two weeks of SIT elicits small improvements in soccer players’ high-intensity intermittent-running performance and VO2max, therefore representing a worthwhile replacement of regular aerobic training. The effectiveness of SIT for maintaining SIT-induced improvements in high-intensity intermittent running requires further research.