This review is from the symposium Exercise metabolism at The Biomedical Basis of Elite Performance, a joint meeting of The Physiological Society and the British Pharmacological Society, together with The Journal of Physiology, Experimental Physiology, British Journal of Pharmacology and The Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London on 20 March 2012.
Physiological adaptations to low-volume, high-intensity interval training in health and disease
Article first published online: 1 MAR 2012
© 2012 The Authors. The Journal Physiology © 2012 The Physiological Society
The Journal of Physiology
Volume 590, Issue 5, pages 1077–1084, March 2012
How to Cite
Gibala, M. J., Little, J. P., MacDonald, M. J. and Hawley, J. A. (2012), Physiological adaptations to low-volume, high-intensity interval training in health and disease. The Journal of Physiology, 590: 1077–1084. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2011.224725
- Issue published online: 1 MAR 2012
- Article first published online: 1 MAR 2012
- Accepted manuscript online: 30 JAN 2012 09:09PM EST
- (Received 16 November 2011; accepted after revision 23 January 2012; first published online 30 January 2012)
Abstract Exercise training is a clinically proven, cost-effective, primary intervention that delays and in many cases prevents the health burdens associated with many chronic diseases. However, the precise type and dose of exercise needed to accrue health benefits is a contentious issue with no clear consensus recommendations for the prevention of inactivity-related disorders and chronic diseases. A growing body of evidence demonstrates that high-intensity interval training (HIT) can serve as an effective alternate to traditional endurance-based training, inducing similar or even superior physiological adaptations in healthy individuals and diseased populations, at least when compared on a matched-work basis. While less well studied, low-volume HIT can also stimulate physiological remodelling comparable to moderate-intensity continuous training despite a substantially lower time commitment and reduced total exercise volume. Such findings are important given that ‘lack of time’ remains the most commonly cited barrier to regular exercise participation. Here we review some of the mechanisms responsible for improved skeletal muscle metabolic control and changes in cardiovascular function in response to low-volume HIT. We also consider the limited evidence regarding the potential application of HIT to people with, or at risk for, cardiometabolic disorders including type 2 diabetes. Finally, we provide insight on the utility of low-volume HIT for improving performance in athletes and highlight suggestions for future research.