Weeks 4 and 5 – EPE

“What are we going to do for Dr. Laird’s birthday next Monday?” (stay tuned)

You will have to excuse my neglect to write last week’s blog, my forgetfulness was in full swing and I carried on with my weekend without any thoughts about blogs on my mind.

Anyways, last week marked the mid-point of our training program. The term ‘mid-point’ to some may bring feelings of jubilation or even euphoria! Unfortunately, for our team members participating in the study it stirred feeling of malice, discomfort, and dread. We had to perform our second VO2max test of the study, which fell on either Tuesday or Friday.

Tuesday’s tests went rather smoothly except for a minor glitch in our system that spit out data which showed that some of our participants had stroke volumes and cardiac outputs of genetically altered humans turned heroes (i.e. Spiderman or Captain America) or carbon dioxide and oxygen consumption values of plants. So, we learned a lot about trouble shooting systems and how to hand calculate results.

Wednesday was an unusually light day of data analysis, so we all headed to Dr. McCole’s house for a relaxing couple of hours away from campus. I had my first encounter with a pickle burger and I haven’t looked back since! They were absolutely the best burgers I have ever consumed in my twenty-one years on this Earth! With some apple crisp to top off the day, we all drove home with full bellies filled with some quality home cooked goodness.

Thursday and Friday flowed without flaw for the most part. We ran some training sessions on Thursday and finished up the mid-way VO2max tests on Friday. At this point Dr. Laird was basking in the Outer Banks on a little vacation so we compiled a plan about what to do for his birthday, which was on Monday.


So it was Monday, and as promised I have to tell you what we decided to do for Dr. Laird’s birthday. Last Friday we decided to order him an action figure of a Navy Seal. If you have had any interactions with Dr. Laird, you understand how much respect he has for our military forces, especially the Navy Seals. So we thought, ‘why not give him a super cute action figure he can stick right on his desk!’ Therefore, this is exactly what we did ladies and gentlemen. On Monday however, it hadn’t gotten to our trusted postal office so we had no choice but to wait.

We also came back into the lab on Monday morning and it was a scorcher. From what I can recall it was 80% humidity and at one point got up to 25 degrees Celsius. We were able to get a dehumidifier for our lab so that helped a ton. We also had both fans blowing to help circulate the air. Omitting this small obstacle from the first and hardest day of the week, our training regimen went very smoothly on both Monday and Tuesday.

On Wednesday the group went out for lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings and it was delicious! This was when we presented our extravagant gift to Dr. Laird. We also had a waiter announce to the entire peanut gallery that it was his birthday. Needless to say, he was thrilled. After lunch we called it a day and a few of us even decided to exercise on our day off!

On Thursday, three of us suited up in electrodes to give the new and improved cardiac output system a whirl. Turns out we all had pretty believable numbers! So that was quite exciting. Also, I must mention the fact that we have been streaming the world cup live on our big screen down here and it is wonderful! Helps pass the time quite nicely if I do say so myself.

Friday is always the best day! But this Friday was the best because it marks the very last day of our training! WOOHOO! This also meant that we had to remember to do cortisol for our participants. Not to mention, it is a gorgeous day outside!

Next week we are gearing up for final testing!

Coming to you live from the HIIT Team

EPE Research: Florida and the First Training Week

During the last week in May I had the privilege of attending the annual conference of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) in Orlando, Florida with Dr. McKenzie and Dr. Laird from our research team, along with my roommate for the trip, biomechanist, and avid Disney fan,  Mr. Petrie.  Dr. McKenzie and I presented a poster about our research from last summer.  We hope everyone at the conference enjoyed their lesson about the most physiologically beneficial method for walking on an inclined treadmill.  Some of the key points I learned are listed below:

  • The ACSM annual meeting covers a broad range of topics and features a number of sessions on the basic sciences
  • The conference itself is CRAZY with numerous sessions taking place at the same time and people dipping in and out of sessions at will.
  • For better health, focus on being active, not on weight or waist circumference
  • If you’re having trouble getting motivated to workout, make the activity a means to an end, rather the end itself (this includes taking stairs over elevators, standing more often, using your body as a mode of transportation- more than just your right foot, etc.)

During my week in Florida, the rest of the group faithfully finished all of the pre-testing such that we were able to stay on schedule and begin the training portion of our study this past week.  For the training portion of the study, participants were matched and subsequently randomized into two different training groups operating under the following conditions:

  • Standard training group- 3 min. at 60-65% maximum heart rate (max. HR), 27 min at 75-80% max. HR, 2 min. 60-65% max. HR
  • High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) group- 3 min. at 60-65% max HR followed by four bouts of alternating 4 min. at 90-95% max. HR and 3 min. at 60-65% max. HR

Both protocols are designed such that total work is the same.  In both protocols, individuals arrive to the lab four times a week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday) to perform their training task for the day.  The beauty of using heart rate to measure intensity is that it accounts for days when the participant is feeling “off” and it adjusts the intensity as fitness level increases.  Already, we have noticed drastic differences in the ways that participants respond to the training load.  Most of the participants in the standard training protocol appear to have adjusted fairly well; while only about half of the participants in the HIIT protocol appear to have adjusted, the other half are in visible distress throughout most of their training sessions.  During one training session, a participant, having difficulty coping with the training, emphatically told me “I hate you Matt!”

Here’s to hoping we make it through another week of training visibly distressed HIIT participants.

-Matt Peterson (HIIT team)