Researchers compared the benefits of sprint interval training (SIT) against traditional moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT) for improving heart health and insulin sensitivity in inactive men (Gillen JB, et.al., 2016).
SIT involved 3x20-second 'all-out' cycle sprints interspersed with 2 minutes of cycling at slow phase for recovery, whereas MICT involved 45 minutes of continuous cycling at ~70% maximal heart rate. Both groups did 3 weekly sessions for 12 weeks which also involved a short warm up and cool down.
The results showed that both groups improved 19% in peak oxygen consumption and similar increases in insulin sensitivity and muscle mitochondrial content.
The conclusion? Short, intense bursts of exercise can provide the same cardiometabolic benefits as longer continuous sessions, offering a time-efficient option for those with tight schedules.
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Gillen JB, Martin BJ, MacInnis MJ, Skelly LE, Tarnopolsky MA, Gibala MJ. Twelve Weeks of Sprint Interval Training Improves Indices of Cardiometabolic Health Similar to Traditional Endurance Training despite a Five-Fold Lower Exercise Volume and Time Commitment. PLoS One. 2016 Apr 26;11(4):e0154075.