High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and Health

Critical Questions

  • What role might high intensity interval training play in population level physical activity guidelines? (also see Physical Activity Guidelines: Key Issues)
  • What type of interval training sessions have been evaluated?
  • Define the various terminology used (e.g. HIIT, SIT)
  • What physiological adaptations is interval training associated with? (also see Chronic Exercise Induced Cardio-Respiratory Adaptations)
  • Why is interval training an attractive health-based recommendation?
  • What are the limitations of recommending high intensity interval training to the general population?
  • What is the minimal dose required to achieve the benefits of high intensity interval training?
  • How can changing the variables (Intensity, work duration, rest duration, number of repetitions, frequency of training) affect the adaptations?
  • What are the guidelines for using HIIT training with clinical populations (see Taylor et al, 2019)

Recommended Reading

Batacan, R. B., Duncan, M. J., Dalbo, V. J., Tucker, P. S., & Fenning, A. S. (2016). Effects of high-intensity interval training on cardiometabolic health: a systematic review and meta-analysis of intervention studies. British Journal of Sports Medicine, http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/51/6/494

Biddle, S. J., & Batterham, A. M. (2015). High-intensity interval exercise training for public health: a big HIT or shall we HIT it on the head?. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 12(1), 95 [full text]

Bucheit, M. (2018) Heart rate recovery during repeated high-intensity efforts is not related to the recovery of systemic oxygen uptake and muscle oxygenation, and can’t be used to predict performance decrement. Sport Performance and Science Reports [full text]

Decision process for selecting an HIT format based on the expected acute physiological response/strain. Taken from: Buchheit, M., & Laursen, P. B. (2013). High-intensity interval training, solutions to the programming puzzle. Part I: Cardiopulmonary Emphasis. Sports Medicine, 43(5), 313-338. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-013-0029-x

Buchheit, M., & Laursen, P. B. (2013). High-intensity interval training, solutions to the programming puzzle. Part I: Cardiopulmonary Emphasis. Sports Medicine, 43(5), 313-338. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-013-0029-x

Buchheit, M., & Laursen, P. B. (2013). High-intensity interval training, solutions to the programming puzzle. Part II: Anaerobic Energy, Neuromuscular Load and Practical Applications . Sports Medicine, 43(10), 927-954. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-013-0066-5

Cocks, M., Shaw, C. S., Shepherd, S. O., Fisher, J. P., Ranasinghe, A. M., Barker, T. A., Tipton, K. D. and Wagenmakers, A. J. M. (2013) Sprint interval and endurance training are equally effective in increasing muscle microvascular density and eNOS content in sedentary males. Journal of Physiology. Vol. 591, No. 3: 641–656. [Online]. Available from: doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2012.239566. [full text]

Decker, E. S., & Ekkekakis, P. (2017). More efficient, perhaps, but at what price? Pleasure and enjoyment responses to high-intensity interval exercise in low-active women with obesity. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 28, 1-10. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1469029216301285

Gibala, M. J., & Hawley, J. A. (2017). Sprinting toward fitness. Cell Metabolism, 25(5), 988-990. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2017.04.030

Gibala, M. J., Little, J. P., Essen, M. Van, Wilkin, G. P., Burgomaster, K. A., Safdar, A., Raha, S. and Tarnopolsky, M. A. (2006) Short-term sprint interval versus traditional endurance training : similar initial adaptations in human skeletal muscle and exercise performance. Journal of Physiology. Vol. 575, No. 3: 901–911. [Online]. Available from: doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2006.112094.[full text]

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. Journal of Physiology. Vol. 5, No. March: 1077–1084. [Online]. Available from: doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2011.224725.[full text]

Gibala, M. J. and Mcgee, S. L. (2008) Metabolic Adaptations to Short-term High-Intensity Interval Training : A Little Pain for a Lot of Gain ? Exercise and Sport Science Reviews. Vol. 36, No. 2: 58–63.[full text]

Hardcastle, S. J., Ray, H., Beale, L., & Hagger, M. S. (2014). Why sprint interval training is inappropriate for a largely sedentary population. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 1505. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01505

Jelleyman, C., Yates, T., O'Donovan, G., Gray, L. J., King, J. A., Khunti, K., & Davies, M. J. (2015). The effects of high‐intensity interval training on glucose regulation and insulin resistance: a meta‐analysis. Obesity reviews, 16(11), 942-961. https://doi.org/10.1111/obr.12317

MacInnis, M. J., & Gibala, M. J. (2017). Physiological adaptations to interval training and the role of exercise intensity. The Journal of Physiology, 595(9), 2915-2930. https://doi.org/10.1113/JP273196

Image from: MacInnis, M. J., & Gibala, M. J. (2017). Physiological adaptations to interval training and the role of exercise intensity. The Journal of Physiology, 595(9), 2915-2930. https://doi.org/10.1113/JP273196

Metcalfe, R. S., Babraj, J. A., Fawkner, S. G., & Vollaard, N. B. (2012). Towards the minimal amount of exercise for improving metabolic health: beneficial effects of reduced-exertion high-intensity interval training. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 112(7), 2767-2775. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-011-2254-z

Metcalfe, R. S., Koumanov, F., Ruffino, J. S., Stokes, K. A., Holman, G. D., Thompson, D., & Vollaard, N. B. J. (2015). Physiological and molecular responses to an acute bout of reduced-exertion high-intensity interval training (REHIT). European Journal of Applied Physiology, 115(11), 2321-2334. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-015-3217-6

Phillips, B. E., Kelly, B. M., Lilja, M., Ponce-González, J. G., Brogan, R. J., Morris, D. L., ... & Rooyackers, O. (2017). A Practical and Time-efficient high-intensity interval Training Program Modifies cardio-Metabolic risk Factors in adults with risk Factors for Type ii Diabetes. Frontiers in Endocrinology, 8, 229. https://doi.org/10.3389/fendo.2017.00229

Ross, L. M., Porter, R. R., & Durstine, J. L. (2016). High-intensity interval training (HIIT) for patients with chronic diseases. Journal of Sport and Health Science, 5(2), 139-144.

Image from: Taylor, J. L., Holland, D. J., Spathis, J. G., Beetham, K. S., Wisløff, U., Keating, S. E., & Coombes, J. S. (2019). Guidelines for the Delivery and Monitoring of High Intensity Interval Training in Clinical Populations. Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pcad.2019.01.004

Taylor, J. L., Holland, D. J., Spathis, J. G., Beetham, K. S., Wisløff, U., Keating, S. E., & Coombes, J. S. (2019). Guidelines for the Delivery and Monitoring of High Intensity Interval Training in Clinical Populations. Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pcad.2019.01.004

Vollaard, N. B., & Metcalfe, R. S. (2017). Research into the health benefits of sprint interval training should focus on protocols with fewer and shorter sprints. Sports Medicine, 47(12), 2443-2451. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-017-0727-x

Weston, K. S., Wisløff, U., & Coombes, J. S. (2014). High-intensity interval training in patients with lifestyle-induced cardiometabolic disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Sports Med, 48(16), 1227-1234. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2013-092576

Recommended books

Laursen, P. and Bucheit, M. (2018) Science and Application of High-Intensity Interval Training. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics [Human Kinetics website]

Follow on Twitter

Martin Gibala - @gibalam

Richard Metcalfe - @richmetcalfe

Paul Laursen - @PaulBLaursen

Martin Bucheitt - @mart1buch

@hiitscience