Two forms of interval training commonly discussed in the literature are high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and sprint interval training (SIT). HIIT consists of repeated bouts of exercise that occur at a power output or velocity between the second ventilatory threshold and maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max). SIT is performed at a power output or velocity above those associated with VO2max.
The primary objective of this study is to systematically review published randomized and pair-matched trials to determine which mode of interval training, HIIT versus SIT, leads to a greater improvement in TT performance in active and trained individuals. The second objective of this review is to perform a subgroup analysis to determine if there is a distinction between HIIT programs that differ in work-bout duration.
SPORTDiscus (1800–present) and Medline with Full Text (1946–present) were used to conduct a systematic literature search.
Studies were selected for the review if they met the following criteria: (1) individuals (males and females) who were considered at least moderately trained (~ 3-h per week of activity) as specified by the authors of the included studies; (2) between the ages of 18 and 45 years; (3) randomized or pair-matched trials that included a HIIT and a SIT group; (4) provided detailed information about the interval training program; (5) were at least 2 weeks in duration; (6) included a TT test that required participants to complete a set distance.
A total of 6 articles met the inclusion criteria for the subjective and objective analysis. The pooled analysis was based on a random-effects model. There was no difference in the change in TT performance when comparing all HIIT versus SIT (0.9%; 90% CI − 1.2–1.9%, p = 0.18). However, subgroup analysis based on duration of work interval indicated a 2% greater improvement in TT performance following long-HIIT (≥ 4 min) when compared to SIT. There was no difference in change in VO2max/peak oxygen consumption (VO2peak) between groups. There was a moderate effect (ES = 0.70) in favor of HIIT over SIT in maximal aerobic power (MAP) or maximal aerobic velocity (MAV).
The results of the meta-analysis indicate that long-HIIT may be the optimal form of interval training to augment TT performance. Additional research that directly compares HIIT exercise differing in work-bout duration would strengthen these results and provide further insight into the mechanisms behind the observed benefits of long-HIIT.
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Conflicts of interest
Michael Rosenblat, Andrew Perrotta and Scott Thomas declare that they have no conflicts of interest relevant to the content of this review.
Data availability statement
All data supporting the results in this manuscript are available within the results sections or in the cited articles.
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Rosenblat, M.A., Perrotta, A.S. & Thomas, S.G. Effect of High-Intensity Interval Training Versus Sprint Interval Training on Time-Trial Performance: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Sports Med (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-020-01264-1