Physiological and molecular responses to an acute bout of reduced-exertion high-intensity interval training (REHIT)


Metcalfe RS, Koumanov F, Ruffino JS, Stokes KA, Holman GD, Thompson D & Vollaard N (2015) Physiological and molecular responses to an acute bout of reduced-exertion high-intensity interval training (REHIT). European Journal of Applied Physiology, 115 (11), pp. 2321-2334.

Purpose  We have previously shown that 6weeks of reduced-exertion high-intensity interval training (REHIT) improves VO2 max in sedentary men and women and insulin sensitivity in men. Here, we present two studies examining the acute physiological and molecular responses to REHIT.  Methods  In Study 1, five men and six women (age: 26 ± 7 year, BMI: 23 ± 3 kg m−2,VO2 max: 51 ± 11 ml kg−1min−1) performed a single 10-min REHIT cycling session (60 W and two 20-s ‘all-out’ sprints), with vastus lateralis biopsies taken before and 0, 30, and 180 min post-exercise for analysis of glycogen content, phosphorylation of AMPK, p38 MAPK and ACC, and gene expression of PGC1α and GLUT4. In Study 2, eight men (21 ± 2 year; 25 ± 4 kg·m−2; 39 ± 10 ml kg−1min−1) performed three trials (REHIT, 30-min cycling at 50% of VO2 max, and a resting control condition) in a randomised cross-over design. Expired air, venous blood samples, and subjective measures of appetite and fatigue were collected before and 0, 15, 30, and 90 min post-exercise.  Results  Acutely, REHIT was associated with a decrease in muscle glycogen, increased ACC phosphorylation, and activation of PGC1α. When compared to aerobic exercise, changes in VO2, RER, plasma volume, and plasma lactate and ghrelin were significantly more pronounced with REHIT, whereas plasma glucose, NEFAs, PYY, and measures of appetite were unaffected.  Conclusions  Collectively, these data demonstrate that REHIT is associated with a pronounced disturbance of physiological homeostasis and associated activation of signalling pathways, which together may help explain previously observed adaptations once considered exclusive to aerobic exercise.

HIT; Glycogen; Signalling pathways; AMPK; Exercise metabolism; Energy balance

European Journal of Applied Physiology: Volume 115, Issue 11

Publication date30/11/2015
Publication date online09/07/2015
Date accepted by journal01/07/2015