Gist, N. H. (2014). Physiological and performance effects of low-volume, high-intensity whole-body calisthenics on army ROTC cadets. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 46(5), Supplement abstract number 432.

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This study determined the effects of a 4-week low-volume, high-intensity interval training intervention on fitness and performance in U.S. Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps cadets and compared the effects with those induced by a typical (traditional) cadet physical training program. Ss (M = 17; F = 9) completed four weeks of exercise training three days per week consisting of either ~60 minutes of traditional physical training or shorter duration high-intensity interval training comprising whole-body calisthenics involving 4-7 sets of 30-second “all out” burpees separated by four minutes of active recovery. Pre- and post-intervention assessments of VO2peak, anaerobic capacity, mitochondrial function, and performance on the Army Physical Fitness Test were compared

Following training, there were no changes in VO2peak, anaerobic capacity, or Army Physical Fitness Test performance. For the traditional training group, mitochondrial function (time constant of recovery) improved as observed in the 2.4 ± 4.6 second decrease whereas, mitochondrial function decreased in high-intensity interval training group as seen in the increase in the time constant of recovery.

Implication. This form of high-intensity interval training sustained fitness despite its short duration, reduced volume, and calisthenics-only modality. Although the changes in mitochondrial function were statistically significant, they represent only a small portion of a single muscle (vastus lateralis) and are likely not functionally meaningful. A program that includes high-intensity interval training as part of a larger program may be well suited to moderately-trained armed forces personnel seeking to maintain fitness with minimal time commitment and without access to equipment.

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