Changes in aerobic capacity and glycaemic control in response to reduced-exertion high-intensity interval training (REHIT) are not different between sedentary men and women

Richard Metcalfe, Nicholas Tardif, Dylan Thompson, Niels Vollaard

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    Previously it has been reported that reduced-exertion high-intensity interval training (REHIT; total training time of 3 × 10 min per week) improves maximal aerobic capacity in both sedentary men and women, but improves insulin sensitivity in men only. The aim of the present study was to determine whether there is a true sex difference in response to REHIT, or that these findings can be explained by the large interindividual variability in response inherent to all exercise training. Thirty-five sedentary participants (18 women; mean ± SD age for men and women, respectively: age, 33 ± 9 and 36 ± 9 years; body mass index, 25.1 ± 2.1 and 24.1 ± 3.5 kg·m−2; maximal aerobic capacity, 38.6 ± 8.3 and 31.6 ± 4.6 mL·kg−1·min−1) completed a 6-week REHIT programme consisting of eighteen 10-min unloaded cycling sessions with 1 (first session) or 2 (all other sessions) “all-out” 10–20-s sprints against a resistance of 5% of body mass. Maximal aerobic capacity and oral glucose tolerance test-derived insulin sensitivity were determined before and after training. REHIT was associated with an increase in maximal aerobic capacity (2.54 ± 0.65 vs. 2.78 ± 0.68 L·min−1, main effect of time: p < 0.01), a trend toward reduced plasma insulin area-under-the-curve (AUC; 6.7 ± 4.8 vs. 6.1 ± 4.0 IU·min−1·mL−1, p = 0.096), but no significant change in plasma glucose AUC or the Cederholm index of insulin sensitivity. Substantial interindividual variability in response to REHIT was observed for all variables, but there was no significant effect of sex. In conclusion, REHIT improves the key health marker of aerobic capacity within a minimal total training time-commitment. There is large interindividual variability in responses to REHIT, but sex differences in the responses are not apparent.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1117-1123
    JournalApplied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism
    Issue number11
    Early online date7 Jul 2016
    Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2016



    • HIT
    • V̇O2max
    • insulin sensitivity
    • sex differences

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