According to an analysis of existing studies, fewer repetitions of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts could provide better fitness benefits.
Researchers looked at studies that have investigated the benefits of doing repetitions of a particular kind of high-intensity cycle sprint called ‘supramaximal’. Greater cardiorespiratory fitness improvements were found from performing fewer repetitions of these cycle sprint intervals.
One of the main reasons that people don’t stay fit or physically active is lack of time. High-intensity workouts can be a solution to this as it allows them to get fitter with a shorter workout.
The researchers found that improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness did not suffer when fewer sprint repetitions were performed with the possibility of even better improvements. Two repetitions seems to be the optimal number of repetitions, which enables supramaximal sprint based workouts to be very short without compromised results.
These study findings are applicable only to ‘supramaximal’ exercise requiring specialised exercise bikes which allow for high intensities of exercise.
It’s unknown if HIIT lower intensity workouts can also benefit from fewer sprint repetitions. It has been previously assumed that more high-intensity exercise repetitions will produce greater cardiorespiratory fitness improvements.
This analysis found that with 2 maximal sprints, overall fitness improvement was reduced by about 5% on average after each extra sprint in a workout session.
Levels of fitness were measured by VO2max, the maximum amount of oxygen that our bodies are capable of using in a minute. It’s considered to be the best cardiorespiratory fitness and endurance indicator.