Exercising at Altitude
Exercising in hypoxia has been proven to improve muscular endurance and increase fitness through intensified aerobic and anaerobic training sessions. Training under intermittent hypoxia optimally prepares an individual for competition at altitude or sea-level by improving breathing economy, and the ability to stay saturated with oxygen whether they are in Death Valley or the Rocky Mountains.
The result is that the athlete feels less fatigued and will recover quicker, leading to increased training intensity and physiological adaptation. Studies have proven significant (often staggering) improvement for repeat sprint ability, increasing anabolic hormonal responses and increased red blood cell mass – all of which are enormously valuable across all contexts of sport.
One study done on elite male triathletes showed a 7% increase in VO2max and a 7.4% increase in mean maximal power ouput/Kg body weight (Wmax) after 10 days of exercise training at a simulated altitude of 8000ft/2500m. That kind of improvement is unheard of using any other legal means of training.
Live Low – Train High
Let’s face it, sleeping in an altitude tent doesn’t always fit with every person’s lifestyle. Luckily, athletes can experience the same physiological benefits of hypoxia by performing training sessions at simulated altitude. Since being developed by the Soviets in the 1930’s LLTH has evolved a lot. Contemporary research indicates enormous benefits both aerobically and anaerobically, making active IHT a highly valuable and important part of any athlete’s altitude training strategy.
Hypoxic Training and Team Sports
Since most team sports have a healthy balance of aerobic and anaerobic demand, hypoxic training is uniquely suited to boost individual and team performance. The science of altitude training has long been well understood by endurance athletes, but team sport has historically lagged a bit behind. That tide is turning now as some of the world’s best sport franchises have begun incorporating Hypoxico technology to boost player fitness, gaining a competitive advantage on their opponents. We now work with professional teams in countries all over the world and have a few championship rings and trophies to show for it.
The bottom line is this: all sports have unique demands that need to be met for top performance. Some intermittent sports rely mostly on strength and power (football, rugby, etc.), while some emphasize aerobic endurance (basketball, soccer, etc). When applied correctly, hypoxic training is a tremendously valuable and 100% legal way to meet these demands and gain a measurable edge on the competition. In other words, it is equally effective at improving a football player’s explosive power as it is at enhancing the endurance of a grand tour cyclist or marathon runner. There are no limits to it’s application, it’s only a matter of the strategy and protocols employed. At Hypoxico, we are happy to consult on best practices and provide recommendations based on your goals for free!
Read this article by British physiologist Nick Grantham on the benefits hypoxic training in team sports.
Repeat Sprint Ability
Some of the most exciting research in the area of intermittent hypoxic training came out of the UK in 2013 that focused on repeat sprint ability (RSA) in elite rugby players. This study observed a much larger performance improvement after repeated sprint training in hypoxia than for to the same training performed in normoxia. The main findings were that repeated sprint training in hypoxia leads to the following adaptations:
- Increased variations of blood perfusion possibly delaying fatigue during a repeat sprint test.
- Specific molecular adaptations inducing further improvement in systemic RSA performance.
- Improved vascular conductance in repeated sprints to exhaustion.
- Increased growth and improved utilization of fast-twitch muscle fibers.
- Improved waste metabolite removal and lactate buffering.
- Improved anaerobic glycolytic activity (more efficient use of muscle glycogen for energy).
The practical benefits of these adaptations are significant improvement in explosive power and endurance in team sports. This results in a better athlete/team in the 4th quarter when the competition is fatigued. As it applies to endurance sport, athletes have “more matches to burn” and are better able to make moves or respond to moves late in races.
“Nonito Donaire, reigning WBO and IBF Super Bantamweight Champion
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Ironman Triathlon Jimmy Johnsen training at 12,500ft
Exercising at altitude has been proven to provide the following benefits:
- Increase VO2 max and lactate threshold.
- Increase power output and Speed.
- Enhance Endurance and Stamina.
- Reduce recovery time.
- Increased capillarisation (density and length), enabling increased oxygen delivery to tissues.
- Boost in mitochondrial enzymes allowing more efficient use of oxygen for energy production.
- Decreased heart rate and blood pressure.
- Increased production and release of human growth hormone.
- Stimulation on fat-burning metabolism.