6 weeks of resistance exercise or high intensity interval training to improve exercise economy
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The ability to metabolise energy aerobically is a prerequisite for superior endurance performance.
‘The oxygen uptake needed at a given intensity' is a good definition of exercise economy (Jones & Carter, 2000). At a set intensity runners with a good exercise economy will use less oxygen than runners with a less developed exercise economy (Thomas et al., 1999). The fairly modest VO2 max scores that have been reported in elite athletes could be attributed to their superior exercise economy (Lucia et al., 2002). Consequently, it is important that athletes utilise the most effective training method to improve their exercise economy.
Endurance exercise such as high intensity interval training can produce improvements in exercise economy by increasing the respiratory capacity in the skeletal muscle (Saunders et al., 2004) therefore when running at a given intensity athletes can use less oxygen and reduce the energy expenditure of the exercise (Saunders et al., 2004). This was demonstrated by Franch et al (1998) who found 4-6 x 4 minute work bouts with 3 minutes rest improved running economy (RE) by 3%. Helgurud et al. (2001) investigated the effect 4x4 interval repetitions had on RE and found the subjects improved their RE by 6.7% over an 8 week period. Nevertheless recent research suggests strength training could also elicit improvements in exercise economy. In one study 9 weeks of explosive interval training was seen to improve running economy by 8% (Paavolainen et al. 1999). Additionally, Turner et al. (2003) Found plyometric training improved running economy by 6%. Research suggests that improving leg strength through resistance training could reduce the percentage of maximal force needed for muscle contraction and increase motor unit activation, improving exercise economy (Hakkinen, 1994). The purpose of this study was to assess the effectiveness of two training modes (resistence and HIIT) at improving exercise economy and subsequent performance.
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Eleven males and 5 females (mean ± SD: age 21.4 ± 2.7 years, body mass 72.6 ± 10.5 Kg, height 173.9 ± 7.77 cm) from the University of Brighton participated in the study. Prior to testing all students completed written informed consent and were made aware of the experimental protocols involved.
On arrival to the lab the subjects were fitted with a HR monitor (Polar, FS1, US) and had their weight and height recorded. Subjects then performed a 3 minute stage incremental test (Treadmill) to determine their LT followed by a 1 minute stage incremental VO2 max test. The tests were undertaken to determine the subject's 50% delta running speed. Subjects 50% delta scores (ask about sign) were then used for a continuous running protocol to assess running economy. Subjects proceeded to warm up at a self selected pace for 5 minutes. Once completed, the subjects ran for 25 minutes at their 50% delta running speed. Expired gas samples were collected at the end of every 5 minutes. In addition, rate of perceived exertion (RPE) and heart rate HR were recorded every 5 minutes. Once the 6 week training programs were completed, the LT, VO2 MAX and running economy protocols were repeated. However, the subjects used the same 50% delta score achieved during the preliminary testing for the post testing.
HIIT Exercise protocol
Subjects undertook two 40 minute interval sessions a week over a six week period. The protocol consisted of a 10 minute warm up at 70% heart rate max (HRM) then 4x4 work bouts at 90-95% HRM interspersed with 3 minute recovery periods at 70% HRM. This was followed by a 5 minute cool down.
Strength training protocol
The subjects performed 8 exercises, twice a week over a 6 week period.
Exercise Sets Reps
1 DL Back Squat 3 16
2 Horizontal Scissor kick 3 60
3 SL Back Squat 3 6
4 Glute Bridge Holds 3 10
5 SL Split Lunge 3 8
6 SL Gute Bridge 3 6
7 SL Calf Raises 3 15
8 Vertical Lunge Scissor Kicks 3 6
Results were presented as mean ± standard deviation (SD). A one way analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to establish differences between the two conditions, the results were considered significant at P < 0.05. Statistical measures were carried out on SPSS version 16.00 for Windows.
Resistance group (N=9) Interval group
Pretraining Posttraining Pretraining Posttraining
Always on Time
Marked to Standard
40.69 ± 5.98
39.09 ± 5.13
179.38 ± 13.53
184 ± 12.55
16.38 ± 1.19
18.00 ± 1.25
37.56 ± 3.92
37.76 ± 4.02
172.13 ± 17.02
179.63 ± 14.40
13.88 ± 1.25
15.75 ± 1.16
43.67 ± 4.53
43.85 ± 2.76
180.57 ± 10.01
187 ± 11.13
15.00 ± 1.41
17.57 ± 1.91
38.89 ± 2.21
39.62 ± 2.40
173.71 ± 12.68
180.85 ± 12.95
13.42 ± 1.71
15.85 ± 2.67
Statistical analysis (one way ANOVA) was carried out using the % change between pre and post testing scores for each training group. No significant differences were found between the two training groups for VO2, RPE & HR at 10minutes P < 0.285, P < 0.756, P < 0.876, respectively, and, VO2, RPE & HR at 20 minutes P < 0.079, P < 0.668, 0.542, respectively.
Is it p=o.876.
The present study demonstrated that either six weeks HIIT or resistance training will improve running economy. Improvements in RE though HIIT (Franch et al. 1999; Helgurud et al. 2001; Di prampero et al. 1993) and via strength training (Johnston et al. 1997; Paavolainen et al. 1999; Turner et al. 2003; Spurs et al. 2003) have been well documented in the past. However, there were no significant differences (P > 0.05) found between which condition elicits the greater improvement suggesting both training methods are equally as effective at improving exercise economy. Vo2 after 20 minutes was the only almost significant result P = 0.079. Figure 1 illustrates the greater average improvement shown by the HIIT subjects. The difference between the two could be associated with changes in myocardial vo2 as this represents a significant proportion of whole body VO2 during exercise. Endurance training has shown reductions in myocardial vo2 which causes a decline in HR and an increase in stoke volume at a given intensity, thus increasing exercise economy.(73, sm 2004).
Maybe quote, Saunders et al. How to reference properly.
Numerous limitations of the study could explain why no significant differences were found. It is difficult to control factors that influence exercise economy. The amount of training the subjects participated in outside the study was noted but not controlled. Further improvements could have been made trough additional training as research has suggested exercise economy could be related to training volume as more experienced athletes often show better economy's (Periera et al. 1997). On the other hand, whether or not some of the subjects actually adhered to the programs is also unclear.
In addition, 6 weeks duration could not be long enough to produce considerable improvements in economy (Jones & Carter 2000). Future research should consider these points when trying to determine the best mode of exercise to improve exercise economy.
In conclusion it appears there are no significant differences in exercise economy gains when undertaking either 6 weeks of resistance exercise or high intensity interval training. Future research should look to assess the benefits of a program consisting of both types of training.
Jones, A, M. & Carter, H. (2000) “The effects of endurance training on Parameters of aerobic fitness” Sport Medicine, vol. 29, pp.373-386
Thomas, D, Q. Fernhall, B. & Grant, H. (1999) “Changes in running economy during a 5km run in trained men and women runners”. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 13 pp.162-67
Saunder, P, U. Pyne, D, B. Telford, R, D. Hawley, J, A. (2004) “Factors Affecting Running Economy in Trained Distance Runners” Sports Medicine, 34, pp.465-485
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Furthermore, The initial fitness of the subjects could of affected results as untrained subjects are likely to benefit from any improvements in endurance or strength, compared to trained subjects who find it more difficult (Kubekeli et al. 2002).
Additionally, HIIT improves technique (51, sm 2000) recruits more muscle fibres (Further involvement of type ll) Midgeley 2006 s and c) and slows utilisation of glycogen in the working muscles (86, sm 2004). stiffening the muscles and tendons makeing them better at storing and utilising energy more effectively during the concentric phase of the movement (57, sm, 200,14, sm 2004)