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Keywords:

  • intermittent exercise;
  • perceived exertion;
  • lactate threshold;
  • maximal oxygen consumption

To compare the effects of three 7-week interval training programs varying in work period duration but matched for effort in trained recreational cyclists. Thirty-five cyclists (29 male, 6 female, VO2peak 52 ± 6 mL kg/min) were randomized to four training groups with equivalent training the previous 2 months (∼6 h/wk, ∼1.5 int. session/wk). Low only (n=8) trained 4–6 sessions/wk at a low-intensity. Three groups (n=9 each) trained 2 sessions/wk × 7 wk: 4 × 4 min, 4 × 8 min, or 4 × 16 min, plus 2–3 weekly low-intensity bouts. Interval sessions were prescribed at the maximal tolerable intensity. Interval training was performed at 88 ± 2, 90 ± 2, and 94 ± 2% of HRpeak and 4.9, 9.6, and 13.2 mmol/L blood lactate in 4 × 16, 4 × 8, and 4 × 4 min groups, respectively (both P<0.001). 4 × 8min training induced greater overall gains in VO2peak, power@VO2peak, and power@4 mM bLa- (Mean ± 95%CI): 11.4 (8.0–14.9), vs 4.2 (0.4–8.0), 5.6 (2.1–9.1), and 5.5% (2.0–9.0) in Low, 4 × 16, and 4 × 4 min groups, respectively (P<0.02 for 4 × 8 min vs all other groups). Interval training intensity and accumulated duration interact to influence the adaptive response. Accumulating 32 min of work at 90% HR max induces greater adaptive gains than accumulating 16 min of work at ∼95% HR max despite lower RPE.