How effective can a set of short-term sprint intervals compared to regular endurance training at a comfortable pace be? It is well known that interval training can be time saving, but in July 2006 there was published an interesting study in The Journal of Physiology. The scientists compared the outcome of low volume sprint training 3 times a week (4-6 x (30sec. all-out efforts / 4 min. recovery)) with high volume endurance training 3 times a week (90-120min at 65% VO2 peak).
Before they started the training programs the riders performed a 2km and 30km time trial. After the 14-days training program, they did the same tests over again. Muscle samples were taken to show molecular and cellular adaptations.
There were similar increments in muscle oxidative capacity, muscle buffering capacity and glycogen content in both groups. All these increments were significant which shows us, that the initial adaptations seem to be the same, whether you go for short intervals or long rides. The interesting part is that the sprint-group spent much less time on their training but got the same improvements in performance. Actually they only spent 7-8 minutes a week on their intervals (and 60 minutes recovery time). The endurance group rode their bikes for more than 5 hours a week!
This report is very interesting and I look forward to read more results from these scientists. In the future I will prefer a setup with trained cyclists instead of just ‘active men’ and let them stick to the training program for a longer period of time. Nevertheless this study shows something about how deep impact intervals can make on performance.
I’ll go for some high intensity sprints on my Principia this afternoon.
Gibala MJ, Little JP, van Essen M, Wilkin GP, Burgomaster KA, Safdar A, Raha
S, Tarnopolsky MA. Short-term sprint interval versus traditional endurance training: Similar initial adaptations in human skeletal muscle and exercise performance. J Physiol. 2006 Jul 6;