Sunday, June 4, 2023
Mitochondrial Health

Exercise training prescription to maximise improvements in mitochondria function and content?

ECSS Prague 2019
The 24th Annual Congress of the European College of Sport Science will take place in Prague between 3rd and 6th July 2019. It will host some of the world’s leading sports scientist who will continue to share their latest research and findings from across the academic and applied fields.
Find out more at the ECSS 2019 website:
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23rd annual ECSS Congress Dublin/Ireland, July 4-7 2018

Can we optimise the exercise training prescription to maximise improvements in mitochondria function and content?

Author: Bishop, D.
Victoria University


While there is agreement that exercise is a powerful stimulus to increase both mitochondrial function and content, we do not know the optimal training stimulus to maximise improvements in mitochondrial biogenesis. This presentation will focus predominantly on the effects of exercise on mitochondrial function and content, as there is a greater volume of published research on these adaptations and stronger conclusions can be made. The results of cross-sectional studies, as well as training studies involving rats and humans, suggest that training intensity may be an important determinant of improvements in mitochondrial function (as determined by mitochondrial respiration), but not mitochondrial content (as assessed by citrate synthase activity). In contrast, it appears that training volume, rather than training intensity, may be an important determinant of exercise-induced improvements in mitochondrial content.
The importance of mitochondria for both athletic performance and health underlines the relevance of this topic for ECSS delegates.
This topic will therefore be of interest to both delegates interested in athletic performance, as well as those interested in population


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37 thoughts on “Exercise training prescription to maximise improvements in mitochondria function and content?
  1. Great info. Thank you for publishing this video. The fun comes in applying this info to a training plan. From a practical standpoint, the higher the intensity, the lower the total time you're able to train. You can very easily do too much sprint interval training (SIT) and wind up getting injured and/or cause other problems. Finding the right balance of the various workouts/types of training is a great challenge. Having a better idea of what's going on at the mitochondrial level helps inform our choices. Thanks again.

  2. I was most interested in your comments about effective prescriptions for combining training types as mentioned at 16:15 since obviously this has significant real-world application for training. Is this something that there are any studies published on since this presentation was given? I couldn't see anything more recent on your ResearchGate page

  3. It seems if one wants to improve the biochemical parameters purely for the sake of it, one should continuously increase the exercise load, be it SIT ofr HIIT. There are only 24 hours a day and most people will also need to engage in certain other types of non exercise activities in order to earn a living.

  4. The lecture focuses on improving the mitochondria's ability to produce ATP (Energy).
    1. Exercise is a powerful stimulus to increase mitochondrial biogenesis; However, when we stop working out the mitochondria will quickly return to its previous state.
    2. There is a positive correlation between training volume and mitochondrial function.
    3. There is no observable correlations between training intensity and mitochondrial function.
    4. Continuous training maybe associated with a larger increase in mitochondrial fusion when compared to High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and Sprint Interval Training (SIT). However, the results are still inconclusive.
    5. SIT has been associated with causing an increase in the number of mitochondria functioning within the cell.
    6. Achieving a workout around 85%-90% appears to be the sweet spots according to the current data, however, additional information is still needed.
    7. Training twice a day appears to be significantly more effective in stimulating the function and volume of mitochondria; however, additional information is needed.
    8. Adaptation seems to occur through the training. Techniques such as "progressive overload" can help prevent that.

    Training summary:
    1. Training volume with the most "observed" improvements in mitochondrial functioning: 2x/day for 7d/week.
    2. Morning training involved continuous glycogen depleting exercises (e.g. running) and HIIT/SIT in the afternoon.
    3. Use methods such as "progressive overload" to prevent adaptation.

  5. No HIT (high intesity strength training) comparison – seems to be an enormous omission. I like to se the same analysis applied with HIT alongside these three. This presentation implies you have to become an exercise junkie.

  6. The findings here are largely in line with the arguments of Pavel in his book, Quick and Dead. Would be interested in comparing different modes of sprint training or high intensity interval training. For endurance side, I often run for steady-state cardio at the end of fasting (18-20 h). It seems this approach kind of makes sense in terms of maximizing the effect on mitochondrian adaptation.

  7. So mitochondrial density is a function of how many are required for the amount of physical activity over time. This is due to the energy taken up in the production of mitochondria and their usage, versus the rest of repair and function in the body. In other words, the rules of diminishing returns apply. This is my instantaneous hypothesis.

  8. That's just in skeletal muscle or also in the heart? I doubt it's related to kidney, liver, brian, etc.. spoke too soon.

    What's wrong with slow but steady increase?

  9. In my opinion the greatest benefit to fitness and health from High Intensity Interval Training is mitochondrial biogenesis in skeletal and cardiac muscle. ATP to ADP with low intensity exercise and ADP to AMP with intense training. AMP triggers the signaling pathway for mitochondrial biogenesis. I wrote a book with Greg LeMond "The Science of Fitness" which explains exercise, fitness, and health as a fundamental mitochondrial process. The book includes avoiding mitochondrial toxins (there are many), the best ways to train to trigger mitochondrial biogenesis, the best supportive diet, the mitochondrial theory of aging, and mitochondrial supplements. LeMond had one of the highest VO2 Maxes ever recorded (super mitochondrial physiology and from HIIT), but later developed a mitochondrial myopathy from lead poisoning (shotgun injury). So he is the best case study in mitochondrial fitness experiencing both extremes.

  10. As a busy person I have tried different physical training methods and have settled with doing HIIT, namely hill repeat bicycling every other day, for the best results in the least amount of time. I am losing body fat, gaining muscle mass and tone, improving speed and endurance, sleeping better and longer, no injuries and less joint pain, and have better mental focus and concentration. I have mild muscle soreness and a continuous pleasant feeling from endorphin release. If you don't you likely aren't training intensely enough. I figure that every other day is plenty and allows ample recovery at my age of 59 with no degradation in fitness from too infrequent exercise while also preventing exercise obsession and over training. It is very time efficient and avoids free radical damage from too much mileage (quality of training is more important than the quantity). Maybe not enough training volume for a young competitive world class athlete but likely optimal for overall health (i.e. lean muscle mass, cardiovascular fitness, prevention of metabolic syndrome/type 2 diabetes, mitochondrial mass, joint health, and slowing the aging process).

  11. Hw doesnt say what kind of exercise his subjects did. I'm assuming it was stationary bicycling because he has a little picture of a biker in the corner of his plots.

  12. Any cycling static or moving is fine. At age 78, cycling half hour a day around my home and swimming half-hour twice a week, keeps me walking as steadily. Keep walking to 100 🤣

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