|No, this is not the arm-cranking ergometer that was used in the study at hand, but for those of you who like to do their HIIT exercise on the road this would be an alternative.|
As Osawa et al. point out, there is a vast number of studies that have investigated the effects of short term HIIT and/or combined exercise on skeletal muscles. Studies that investigate the effects of an HIIT program using a leg cycling (LC) and an arm-cranking (AC) ergometer, on the other hand, are non-existent.
Thus, the exercise protocol the Japanese researchers used conducted is unique, as it uses a HIIT program that consisted of
- 16- to 24-minute exercise sessions that were separated by at least 2 days
- each bout of HIIT consisted of 8-12 sets during the fist 4 weeks - after 4 weeks the number of the repetitions was adjusted depending on the participants’ physical condition and was a minimum of eight sets, while the workload was progressively increased
- either an electronically braked LC ergometer (Power Max VIII; Konami Sports & Life Co, Ltd, Tokyo, Japan) or
- a similar, electronically braked AC ergometer (Exite Top; Technogym, Tokyo, Japan)
|Figure 1: Overview of the two HIIT groups. In the LC group the participants trained exclusively on a cycling ergometer. In the LC-AC group the subjects worked out on a cycling and arm-cranking ergometer (Osawa. 2014)|
So we are comparing "regular" HIIT (LC) to combined HIIT (LC-AC)
We do thus have a "regular" HIIT study on the cycling ergometer (you've read about several of these on the SuppVersity, already) and an "innovative" upper + lower body HIIT regimen consisting of leg cycling and arm-cranking. Now, you tell me: Which one do you think hat greater beneficial effects on the fitness and exercise performance of the subjects?
|Figure 2: Rel. pre- vs. post-changes physical fitness & performance (Osawa. 2014)|
Beware of the different exercise intensities in the arm-cranking tests: If we are brutally honest, though, the comparison of the heart rate during arm-cranking is not really fair. I mean, if you work out at an intensity of 120W (LC-AC group), this will necessarily bring your heart rate up higher than arm-cranking at "only" 94W (AC group in the arm-cranking post-test). Since similar differences were not observed on the cycle ergometer, we can still maintain that the combined exercise protocol had more favorable effects on the heart rate response of the study participants.Against that background and in view of the fact that full-body workouts will usually produce greater changes in body composition than leg-only workouts, you will probably expect a significant advantage for the LC-AC group, when it comes to changes in lean body mass.
|Figure 3: Changes in total and lean body mass over the course of the 16-week study (Osawa. 2014)|
- Osawa, Yusuke, et al. "Effects of 16-week high-intensity interval training using upper and lower body ergometers on aerobic fitness and morphological changes in healthy men: a preliminary study." Open access journal of sports medicine 5 (2014): 257.