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High-intensity interval training combined with blood-flow restriction enhances anaerobic and aerobic power in endurance athletes


  • Hubert Bourgeois
  • Penelope Paradis-Deschenes
  • François Billaut Université Laval



local hypoxia, hypoxic training, vascular occlusion, anaerobic capacity, intermittent training, muscle oxygenation


High-intensity interval training (HIIT) can improve endurance performance. We investigated the concurrent impact of HIIT and blood-flow restriction (BFR) as a novel approach to further enhance maximal aerobic and anaerobic physiology and performances in trained athletes. In a randomized controlled trial, eighteen endurance-trained males (O2peak65.6±5.1 included three sessions of HIIT per week (sets of 15-s efforts at 100% maximal aerobic power, interspersed by 15-s recovery) into their usual training for three weeks, either with restriction imposed on both lower limbs at 50-70% of arterial occlusion pressure (BFR group, n=10) or without (CTL group, n=8), and were tested for aerobic and anaerobic exercise performance. The total mechanical work developed during a 30-sec Wingate test increased only in BFR (3.6%, P=0.02). During the Wingate, changes in near-infrared spectroscopy-derived vastus lateralis muscle oxygenation (Δ(deoxy[Hb+Mb]), % arterial occlusion) were attenuated after BFR training (-8.8%, P=0.04). The maximal aerobic power measured during an incremental cycling test also increased only in BFR (4.8%, P=0.0004), but there was no change in O2peak among groups. The improvement in time to complete a 5-km cycling time trial and associated changes in key blood variables (e.g., pH, lactate, bicarbonate and potassium ion concentration, hemoglobin) were not different between groups. Combining short-duration HIIT at 100% MAP with BFR elicited greater improvements in anaerobic performance and maximal aerobic power in endurance-trained athletes, associated with locomotor muscle metabolic adaptations but no meaningful effect on cardiorespiratory fitness.


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