Initially, the researchers recruited 19 masters athletes, aged 55-74. These life-long exercisers were competitors in cycling, rowing, squash and triathlon events. Associate Professor, Peter Herbert, himself a 76-year-old masters athlete, persuaded the cohort of men to replace their intense weekly training sessions (typically three per week) with just one HIIT cycle session every five days. The participants were understandably reluctant, as they anticipated a steep decline in fitness.
However, six weeks into the study, they were pleasantly surprised. Despite doing nothing but a HIIT cycle session every five days, and no more than 30 minutes of gentle walking or jogging a day, they saw remarkable changes.
There were significant improvements in leg power, aerobic capacity and body fat – not to mention enhancements to their age-related physiological profile.