Physiological aspects and energetic contribution in 20s:10s high-intensity interval exercise at different intensities

Background. One of the most popular high-intensity interval exercises is the called ”Tabata Protocol”. However, most investigations have limitations in describing the work intensity, and this fact appears to be due to the protocol unfeasibility. Furthermore, the physiological demands and energetic contribution during this kind of exercise remain unclear. Methods. Eight physically active students (21.8 ± 3.7 years) and eight well-trained cycling athletes (27.8 ± 6.4 years) were enrolled. In the first visit, we collected descriptive data and the peak power output (PPO). On the next three visits, in random order, participants performed interval training with the same time structure (effort:rest 20s:10s) but using different intensities (115%, 130%, and 170% of PPO). We collected the number of sprints, power output, oxygen consumption, blood lactate, and heart rate. Results. The analysis of variance for multivariate test (number of sprints, power output, blood lactate, peak heart rate and percentage of maximal heart rate) showed significant differences between groups (F = 9.62; p = 0.001) and intensities (F = 384.05; p < 0.001), with no interactions (F = 0.94; p = 0.57). All three energetic contributions and intensities were different between protocols. The higher contribution was aerobic, followed by alactic and lactic. The aerobic contribution was higher at 115%PPO, while the alactic system showed higher contribution at 130%PPO. In conclusion, the aerobic system was predominant in the three exercise protocols, and we observed a higher contribution at lower intensities.

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