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Gerhard Tschakert and Peter Hofmann

High-intensity intermittent exercise (HIIE) has been applied in competitive sports for more than 100 years. In the last decades, interval studies revealed a multitude of beneficial effects in various subjects despite a large variety of exercise prescriptions. Therefore, one could assume that an accurate prescription of HIIE is not relevant. However, the manipulation of HIIE variables (peak workload and peak-workload duration, mean workload, intensity and duration of recovery, number of intervals) directly affects the acute physiological responses during exercise leading to specific medium- and long-term training adaptations. The diversity of intermittent-exercise regimens applied in different studies may suggest that the acute physiological mechanisms during HIIE forced by particular exercise prescriptions are not clear in detail or not taken into consideration. A standardized and consistent approach to the prescription and classification of HIIE is still missing. An optimal and individual setting of the HIIE variables requires the consideration of the physiological responses elicited by the HIIE regimen. In this regard, particularly the intensities and durations of the peak-workload phases are highly relevant since these variables are primarily responsible for the metabolic processes during HIIE in the working muscle (eg, lactate metabolism). In addition, the way of prescribing exercise intensity also markedly influences acute metabolic and cardiorespiratory responses. Turn-point or threshold models are suggested to be more appropriate and accurate to prescribe HIIE intensity than using percentages of maximal heart rate or maximal oxygen uptake.

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Jonathan P. Little, Philip D. Chilibeck, Dawn Ciona, Albert Vandenberg and Gordon A. Zello

The glycemic index (GI) of a pre exercise meal may affect substrate utilization and performance during continuous exercise.

Purpose:

To examine the effects of low- and high-GI foods on metabolism and performance during high-intensity, intermittent exercise.

Methods:

Seven male athletes participated in three experimental trials (low-GI, high-GI, and fasted control) separated by ~7 days. Foods were consumed 3 h before (~1.3 g·kg−1 carbohydrate) and halfway through (~0.2 g·kg−1 carbohydrate) 90 min of intermittent treadmill running designed to simulate the activity pattern of soccer. Expired gas was collected during exercise to estimate substrate oxidation. Performance was assessed by the distance covered on fve 1-min sprints during the last 15 min of exercise.

Results:

Respiratory exchange ratio was higher and fat oxidation lower during exercise in the high-GI condition compared with fasting (P < .05). The mean difference in total distance covered on the repeated sprint test between low GI and fasting (247 m; 90% confidence limits ±352 m) represented an 81% (likely, probable) chance that the low-GI condition improved performance over fasting. The mean difference between high GI and fasted control (223 m; ±385 m) represented a 76% (likely, probable) chance of improved performance. There were no differences between low and high GI.

Conclusions:

When compared with fasting, both low- and high-GI foods consumed 3 h before and halfway through prolonged, high-intensity intermittent exercise improved repeated sprint performance. High-GI foods impaired fat oxidation during exercise but the GI did not appear to influence high-intensity, intermittent exercise performance.

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Martin Tan, Rachel Chan Moy Fat, Yati N. Boutcher and Stephen H. Boutcher

High-intensity intermittent exercise (HIIE) such as the 30-s Wingate test attenuates postprandial triacylglycerol (TG), however, the ability of shorter versions of HIIE to reduce postprandial TG is undetermined. Thus, the effect of 8-s sprinting bouts of HIIE on blood TG levels of 12 females after consumption of a high-fat meal (HFM) was examined. Twelve young, sedentary women (BMI 25.1 ± 2.3 kg/m2; age 21.3 ± 2.1 years) completed a maximal oxygen uptake test and then on different days underwent either an exercise or a no-exercise postprandial TG condition. Both conditions involved consuming a HFM after a 12-hr fast. The HFM, in milkshake form provided 4170 kJ (993 Kcal) of energy and 98 g fat. Order was counter-balanced. In the exercise condition participants completed 20-min of HIIE cycling consisting of repeated bouts of 8 s sprint cycling (100–115 rpm) and 12 s of active rest (easy pedaling) 14 hr before consuming the HFM. Blood samples were collected hourly after the HFM for 4 hr. Total postprandial TG was 13% lower, p = .004, in the exercise (5.84 ± 1.08 mmol L−1 4 h−1) compared with the no-exercise condition (6.71 ± 1.63 mmol L−1 4 h−1). In conclusion, HIIE significantly attenuated postprandial TG in sedentary young women.

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Stephen A. Mears and Susan M. Shirreffs

Water intake occurs following a period of high-intensity intermittent exercise (HIIE) due to sensations of thirst yet this does not always appear to be caused by body water losses. Thus, the aim was to assess voluntary water intake following HIIE. Ten healthy males (22 ± 2 y, 75.6 ± 6.9 kg, VO2peak 57.3 ± 11.4 m·kg−1·min−1; mean± SD) completed two trials (7–14 d apart). Subjects sat for 30 min then completed an exercise period involving 2 min of rest followed by 1 min at 100% VO2peak repeated for 60 min (HIIE) or 60 min continuously at 33% VO2peak (LO). Subjects then sat for 60 min and were allowed ad libitum water intake. Body mass was measured at start and end of trials. Serum osmolality, blood lactate, and sodium concentrations, sensations of thirst and mouth dryness were measured at baseline, postexercise and after 5, 15, 30, and 60 min of recovery. Vasopressin concentration was measured at baseline, postexercise, 5 min, and 30 min. Body mass loss over the whole trial was similar (HIIE: 0.77 ± 0.50; LO: 0.85 ± 0.55%; p = .124). Sweat lost during exercise (0.78 ± 0.22 vs. 0.66 ± 0.26 L) and voluntary water intake during recovery (0.416 ± 0.299 vs. 0.294 ± 0.295 L; p < .05) were greater in HIIE. Serum osmolality (297 ± 3 vs. 288 ± 4mOsmol·kg−1), blood lactate (8.5 ± 2.7 vs. 0.7 ± 0.4 mmol·L−1), serum sodium (146 ± 1 vs. 143 ± 1 mmol·L−1) and vasopressin (9.91 ± 3.36 vs. 4.43 ± 0.86 pg·ml−1) concentrations were higher after HIIE (p < .05) and thirst (84 ± 7 vs. 60 ± 21) and mouth dryness (87 ± 7 vs. 64 ± 23) also tended to be higher (p = .060). Greater voluntary water intake after HIIE was mainly caused by increased sweat loss and the consequences of increased serum osmolality mainly resulting from higher blood lactate concentrations.

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Jonathan P. Little, Philip D. Chilibeck, Dawn Ciona, Scott Forbes, Huw Rees, Albert Vandenberg and Gordon A. Zello

Consuming carbohydrate-rich meals before continuous endurance exercise improves performance, yet few studies have evaluated the ideal preexercise meal for high-intensity intermittent exercise, which is characteristic of many team sports. The authors’ purpose was to investigate the effects of low- and high-glycemic-index (GI) meals on metabolism and performance during high-intensity, intermittent exercise. Sixteen male participants completed three 90-min high-intensity intermittent running trials in a single-blinded random order, separated by ~7 d, while fasted (control) and 2 hr after ingesting an isoenergetic low-GI (lentil), or high-GI (potato and egg white) preexercise meal. Serum free fatty acids were higher and insulin lower throughout exercise in the fasted condition (p < .05), but there were no differences in blood glucose during exercise between conditions. Distance covered on a repeated-sprint test at the end of exercise was significantly greater in the low-GI and high-GI conditions than in the control (p < .05). Rating of perceived exertion was lower in the low-GI condition than in the control (p = .01). In a subsample of 5 participants, muscle glycogen availability was greater in the low- and high-GI conditions versus fasted control before the repeated-sprint test (p < .05), with no differences between low and high GI. When exogenous carbohydrates are not provided during exercise both low- and high-GI preexercise meals improve high-intensity, intermittent exercise performance, probably by increasing the availability of muscle glycogen. However, the GI does not influence markers of substrate oxidation during high-intensity, intermittent exercise.

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Napasakorn Chuensiri, Hirofumi Tanaka and Daroonwan Suksom

Purpose:

To determine the acute effects of high-intensity intermittent exercise (HIIE) on vascular function.

Methods:

Lean (n = 18, BMI = 17.1 ± 0.7) and obese (n = 17, BMI = 25.4 ± 0.8) prepubescent boys aged 10.2 ± 0.2 years were studied. HIIE consisted of 8 sets of 20 s of cycle ergometry at 100, 130, and 170% of VO2peak alternating with 10 s of rests.

Results:

The obese group had higher (p < .05) body mass, BMI, body fat percentage, waist-hip ratio than the lean group. Carotid artery wall thickness and arterial stiffness as assessed by brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity (baPWV) were greater in the obese than in the lean group (p < .05). Brachial artery flow-mediated dilation (FMD) was not different between the groups. Total energy expenditure increased gradually as the exercise intensity increased in both groups (p < .05). The obese group had significantly greater total energy expenditure in all three HIIE intensities than the lean group. FMD tended to be higher and baPWV lower as the exercise intensity increased in both groups. Only the HIIE at 170% demonstrated greater FMD compared with the baseline in both groups. baPWV decreased significantly after HIIE at 130 and 170% VO2peak in both groups.

Conclusion:

Supramaximal HIIE can be a feasible exercise modality for improving vascular function in obese prepubescent boys. Future exercise intervention studies are warranted.

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Enda F. Whyte, Nicola Gibbons, Grainne Kerr and Kieran A. Moran

Context: Determination of return to play (RTP) after sport-related concussion (SRC) is critical given the potential consequences of premature RTP. Current RTP guidelines may not identify persistent exercise-induced neurocognitive deficits in asymptomatic athletes after SRC. Therefore, postexercise neurocognitive testing has been recommended to further inform RTP determination. To implement this recommendation, the effect of exercise on neurocognitive function in healthy athletes should be understood. Objective: To examine the acute effects of a high-intensity intermittent-exercise protocol (HIIP) on neurocognitive function assessed by the Symbol Digits Modality Test (SDMT) and Stroop Interference Test. Design: Cohort study. Setting: University laboratory. Participants 40 healthy male athletes (age 21.25 ± 1.29 y, education 16.95 ± 1.37 y). Intervention: Each participant completed the SDMT and Stroop Interference Test at baseline and after random allocation to a condition (HIIP vs control). A mixed between-within-subjects ANOVA assessed time- (pre- vs postcondition) -by-condition interaction effects. Main Outcome Measures: SDMT and Stroop Interference Test scores. Results: There was a significant time-by-condition interaction effect (P < .001, η 2 = .364) for the Stroop Interference Test scores, indicating that the HIIP group scored significantly lower (56.05 ± 9.34) postcondition than the control group (66.39 ± 19.6). There was no significant time-by-condition effect (P = .997, η 2 < .001) for the SDMT, indicating that there was no difference between SDMT scores for the HIIP and control groups (59.95 ± 10.7 vs 58.56 ± 14.02). Conclusions: In healthy athletes, the HIIP results in a reduction in neurocognitive function as assessed by the Stroop Interference Test, with no effect on function as assessed by the SDMT. Testing should also be considered after high-intensity exercise in determining RTP decisions for athletes after SRC in conjunction with the existing recommended RTP protocol. These results may provide an initial reference point for future research investigating the effects of an HIIP on the neurocognitive function of athletes recovering from SRC.

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Isaiah Trice and Emily M. Haymes

In this study a double-blind design was used to determine the effect of caffeine on time to exhaustion and on associated metabolic and circulatory measures. Eight male subjects ingested either caffeine (5 mg/kg body weight) or a placebo 1 hr prior to exercise at 85-90% of maximum workload. Subjects were encouraged to complete three 30-min intermittent cycling periods at 70 rpm with 5 min rest between each. The exercise was terminated when the subject failed to complete three 30-min periods or failed to maintain 70 rpm for at least 15 s consecutively. Serum free fatty acids, glycerol, blood glucose, lactate, perceived exertion, heart rate, and O2 cost were measured. The time to exhaustion was significantly longer during the caffeine trial than during the placebo trial. Serum free fatty acid levels were significantly different between trials. The decline in blood glucose levels was significantly less during the caffeine trial than during the placebo trial. There were no significant differences between trials for the other measures. It was concluded that caffeine increases time to exhaustion when trained subjects cycled intermittently at high levels of intensity.

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Nicolette C. Bishop, Michael Gleeson, Ceri W. Nicholas and Ajmol Ali

Ingesting carbohydrate (CHO) beverages during prolonged, continuous heavy exercise results in smaller changes in the plasma concentrations of several cytokines and attenuates a decline in neutrophil function. In contrast, ingesting CHO during prolonged intermittent exercise appears to have negligible influence on these responses, probably due to the overall moderate intensity of these intermittent exercise protocols. Therefore, we examined the effect of CHO ingestion on plasma interIeukin-6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimuIated neutrophil degranulation responses to high-intensity intermittent running. Six trained male soccer players performed 2 exercise trials, 7 days apart, in a randomized, counterbalanced design. On each occasion, they completed six 15-min periods of intermittent running consisting of maximal sprinting interspersed with less intense periods of running and walking. Subjects consumed either CHO or artificially sweetened placebo(PLA) beverages immediately before and at 15-min intervals during the exercise. At 30 min post-exercise, CHO versus PLA was associated with a higher plasma glucose concentration (p< .01), a lower plasma cortisol and IL-6 concentration (p < .02), and fewer numbers of circulating neutrophils (p < .05). Following the exercise, LPS-stimulated elastase release per neutrophil fell 31 % below baseline values on the PLA trial (p = .06) compared with 11% on the CHO trial (p = .30). Plasma TNF-α concentration increased following the exercise (main effect of time, p < .001) but was not affected by CHO. These data indicate that CHO ingestion attenuates changes in plasma IL-6 concentration, neutrophil trafficking, and LPS-stimulated neutrophil degranulation in response to intermittent exercise that involves bouts of very high intensity exercise.

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Manuel D. Quinones and Peter W.R. Lemon

Hydrothermally modified non-genetically modified organisms corn starch (HMS) ingestion may enhance endurance exercise performance via sparing carbohydrate oxidation. To determine whether similar effects occur with high-intensity intermittent exercise, we investigated the effects of HMS ingestion prior to and at halftime on soccer skill performance and repeated sprint ability during the later stages of a simulated soccer match. In total, 11 male university varsity soccer players (height = 177.7 ± 6.8 cm, body mass = 77.3 ± 7.9 kg, age = 22 ± 3 years, body fat = 12.8 ± 4.9%, and maximal oxygen uptake = 57.1 ± 3.9 ml·kg BM−1·min−1) completed the match with HMS (8% carbohydrate containing a total of 0.7 g·kg BM−1·hr−1; 2.8 kcal·kg BM−1·hr−1) or isoenergetic dextrose. Blood glucose was lower (p < .001) with HMS at 15 min (5.3 vs. 7.7 mmol/L) and 30 min (5.6 vs. 8.3 mmol/L) following ingestion, there were no treatment differences in blood lactate, and the respiratory exchange ratio was lower with HMS at 15 min (0.84 vs. 0.86, p = .003); 30 min (0.83 vs. 0.85, p = .004); and 45 min (0.83 vs. 0.85, p = .007) of the first half. Repeated sprint performance was similar for both treatments (p > .05). Soccer dribbling time was slower with isoenergetic dextrose versus baseline (15.63 vs. 14.43 s, p < .05) but not so with HMS (15.04 vs. 14.43 s, p > .05). Furthermore, during the passing test, penalty time was reduced (4.27 vs. 7.73 s, p = .004) with HMS. During situations where glycogen availability is expected to become limiting, HMS ingestion prematch and at halftime could attenuate the decline in skill performance often seen late in contests.