Not necessarily more – smarter is better

Trening interwałowyIs it possible that two HIT running programs which have the same volume (time), same intensity, same effort needed, same distance to be covered and same break periods can bring substantially different results in the form of increased capabilities in terms of oxygen efficiency and anaerobic efficiency? The answer to this question has been given by scientists from the most famous Israeli institute – Wingate. Certainly, the programs in question were not identical in every single aspect – the identical features have been presented above.

The first program (Increasing-distance Protocol) was to cover the following distances by running: 100, 200, 300, 400 and 500 meters at the speed of 75% of individual maximum sprint per 100 meters. Further sections of the run were followed by longer breaks: 3, 5, 7 and 9 minutes. During these breaks the subjects took active rest in the form of marching.

The second program (Decreasing-distance Protocol) was a reversed version of the first one. This is explained in the drawing below.


Fig.1 40 physical education students (men) took part in the study. They were assigned at random to one of the above training programs (20 each) twice a week for 6 subsequent weeks. In both programs the subjects were to cover 1500 meters in total during a single training, and the total time of all breaks in both groups was 24 minutes.

Before and after the program the subjects underwent two function tests: graded oxygen efficiency test (running on a running track) which was expected to estimate the maximum ability to consume oxygen (VO2max) and anaerobic capabilities test Wingate – a 30-second maximum effort on the bicycle ergograph during which 3 basic parameters were measured: a 5-second peak power (Peak power – PP), mean power (Mean Power – MP) and fatigue index, that is a percent of a drop of power at the end of peak power test (Fatigue Index – FI).

Now the most important part – results of the experiment. Oxygen efficiency: Both protocols caused a considerable rise of VO2max, but a clearly improved results were achieved by a group which had completed a decreasing-distance program.


Fig. 2 Participants of Decreasing-distance program improved their VO2max on average by nearly 200% when compared to the group which covered longer and longer sections during their trainings.

Anaerobic efficiency: results were similar to oxygen efficiency. Both groups improved all three parameters in question (PP, MP and FI) but the results were substantially better in the group which started every training from a longer and finished with shorter distances, as presented in the diagrams below.


The results show that by using various conduct algorithms in the interval training, we can do the same work using the same distance and the same rest breaks, and devote the same amount of time to both trainings, yet achieve completely different results.

The results of the experiment complied with the thesis assumed by the researchers. The thesis was put forward on the basis of previous studies which focused on monitoring the impact of a single training session of two similar protocols on an organism. A physiological reaction of the organism: cardiovascular (HR), metabolic (lactate level) and hormonal (post-effort rise of growth hormone) in this case was substantially higher than in the decreasing-distance training.

In the summary, the researchers remind us that the results can be distinctive to a specific nature of the group in question and may be different with regard to well-trained runners. Also, results may be different if protocols are modified.

“The effect of two different interval-training programmes on physiological and performance indices.”
Mahmood Sindiani, Alon Eliakim, Daria Segev & Yoav Meckel

European Journal of Sport Science (2017),
DOI: 10.1080/17461391.2017.1321687

Developed by Mariusz Goliński
Rehasport Clinic Motor Skills Trainer