Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Sprint interval training (SIT) has been proposed as a time efficient alternative to endurance training (ET) for increasing skeletal muscle oxidative capacity and improving certain cardiovascular functions. In this study we sought to make the first comparisons of the structural and endothelial enzymatic changes in skeletal muscle microvessels in response to ET and SIT. Sixteen young sedentary males (age 21 ± SEM 0.7 years, BMI 23.8 ± SEM 0.7 kg m-2) were randomly assigned to 6 weeks of ET (40-60 min cycling at ∼65%, 5 times per week) or SIT (4-6 Wingate tests, 3 times per week). Muscle biopsies were taken from the m. vastus lateralis before and following 60 min cycling at 65% to measure muscle microvascular endothelial eNOS content, eNOS serine1177 phosphorylation, NOX2 content and capillarisation using quantitative immunofluorescence microscopy. Whole body insulin sensitivity, arterial stiffness and blood pressure were also assessed. ET and SIT increased skeletal muscle microvascular eNOS content (ET 14%; P < 0.05, SIT 36%; P < 0.05), with a significantly greater increase observed following SIT (P < 0.05). Sixty minutes of moderate intensity exercise increased eNOS ser1177 phosphorylation in all instances (P < 0.05), but basal and post-exercise eNOS ser1177 phosphorylation was lower following both training modes. All microscopy measures of skeletal muscle capillarisation (P < 0.05) were increased with SIT or ET, while neither endothelial nor sarcolemmal NOX2 was changed. Both training modes reduced aortic stiffness and increased whole body insulin sensitivity (P < 0.05). In conclusion, in sedentary males SIT and ET are effective in improving muscle microvascular density and eNOS protein content. © 2013 The Authors. The Journal of Physiology © 2013 The Physiological Society.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Physiology

Publication Date





641 - 656