Moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT) improves peripheral artery function in healthy adults, a phenomenon that reverses as continued training induces structural remodeling. Sprint interval training (SIT) elicits physiological adaptations similar to MICT, despite a lower exercise volume and time commitment; however, its effect on peripheral artery function and structure is largely unexplored. We compared peripheral artery responses to 12 wk of MICT and SIT in sedentary, healthy men (age = 27 ± 8 yr). Participants performed MICT (45 min of cycling at 70% peak heart rate; n = 10) or SIT (3 × 20-s “all out” cycling sprints with 2 min of recovery; n = 9), and responses were compared with a nontraining control group (CTL, n = 6). Allometrically scaled brachial flow-mediated dilation (FMD) increased 2.2% after 6 wk of MICT and returned to baseline levels by 12 wk, but did not change in SIT or CTL (group × time interaction, P = 0.04). Brachial artery diameter increased after 6 and 12 wk (main effect, P = 0.03), with the largest increases observed in MICT. Neither training protocol affected popliteal relative FMD and diameter, or central and lower limb arterial stiffness (carotid distensibility, central and leg pulse wave velocity) ( P > 0.05 for all). Whereas earlier and more frequent measurements are needed to establish the potential presence and time course of arterial responses to low-volume SIT, our findings suggest that MICT was superior to the intense, but brief and intermittent SIT stimulus at inducing brachial artery responses in healthy men.
NEW & NOTEWORTHY We compared the effects of 12 wk of moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT) and sprint interval training (SIT) on peripheral artery endothelial function and diameter, and central and lower limb stiffness in sedentary, healthy men. Whereas neither training program affected the popliteal artery or stiffness indexes, we observed changes in brachial artery function and diameter with MICT but not SIT. Brachial artery responses to SIT may follow a different time course or may not occur at all.