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Gazzetta Medica Italiana Archivio per le Scienze Mediche 2016 May;175(5):171-81


language: English

Effects of high- versus moderate-intensity running exercise on endurance performance: the RUnning Strengthens the Heart (RUSH) study

Wolfgang KEMMLER 1, Michael TUTTOR 2, Simon VON STENGEL 1

1 Institute of Medical Physics, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen, Germany; 2 Institute of Sports Medicine, Klinikum Nürnberg Süd, Nürnberg, Germany


BACKGROUND: The purpose of this randomized controlled running exercise trial was to determine the effect of high-intensity (interval) training (HIIT) versus moderate-intensity continuous exercise (MICE) on endurance performance, maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max), running economy and resting metabolic rate (RMR) in untrained males.
METHODS: Eighty-one untrained male subjects aged 30-50 were randomly assigned to either a HIIT (N.=40) or a MICE (N.=41) protocol, which however served as non-training control during the HIIT-interventional period. HIIT consisted of running at about or above the individual anaerobic threshold (≈80-100% HRmax), while the MICE protocol focused on continuous running exercise at ≈65-77.5% HRmax. Both protocols were comparable with respect to energy consumption.
RESULTS: Time to exhaustion as assessed by stepwise treadmill test to voluntary maximum increased comparably (P=0.297) in both groups (HIIT: 27.2±17.7% versus MICE: 29.0±19.4%, both P<0.001) while VO2max (HIIT: 14.1±9.1% versus MICE: 7.7±7.2%, P=0.003) but not relative VO2max (P=0.121) differed significantly between the two exercise groups. With respect to running economy the MICE group (-5.7±9.3%, P=0.005) significantly varied (P=0.003) from the HIIT group (3.0±10.3%, P=0.148). Changes of RMR did not relevantly differ (P=0.775) between the exercise groups (HIIT:-3.5±9.6%, P=0.040 vs. MICE: -2.7±8.8%, P=0.083).
CONCLUSIONS: HIIT and MICE protocols have a comparable impact on running performance in untrained subjects, albeit with different mechanisms with respect to “maximization” and “economization” effect being assumed, was not completely confirmed. Although VO2max representing maximization and running economy representing economization differed significantly as per our hypothesis, no relevant differences were determined for resting metabolic rate.

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