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Purpose: To examine whether concurrent heat and intermittent hypoxic training can improve endurance performance and physiological responses relative to independent heat or temperate interval training. Methods: Well-trained male cyclists (N = 29) completed 3 weeks of moderate- to high-intensity interval training (4 × 60 min·wk−1) in 1 of 3 conditions: (1) heat (HOT: 32°C, 50% relative humidity, 20.8% fraction of inspired oxygen, (2) heat + hypoxia (H+H: 32°C, 50% relative humidity, 16.2% fraction of inspired oxygen), or (3) temperate environment (CONT: 22°C, 50% relative humidity, 20.8% fraction of inspired oxygen). Performance 20-km time trials (TTs) were conducted in both temperate (TTtemperate) and assigned condition (TTenvironment) before (base), immediately after (mid), and after a 3-week taper (end). Measures of hemoglobin mass, plasma volume, and blood volume were also assessed. Results: There was improved 20-km TT performance to a similar extent across all groups in both TTtemperate (mean ±90% confidence interval HOT, −2.8% ±1.8%; H+H, −2.0% ±1.5%; CONT, −2.0% ±1.8%) and TTenvironment (HOT, −3.3% ±1.7%; H+H, −3.1% ±1.6%; CONT, −3.2% ±1.1%). Plasma volume (HOT, 3.8% ±4.7%; H+H, 3.3% ±4.7%) and blood volume (HOT, 3.0% ±4.1%; H+H, 4.6% ±3.9%) were both increased at mid in HOT and H+H over CONT. Increased hemoglobin mass was observed in H+H only (3.0% ±1.8%). Conclusion: Three weeks of interval training in heat, concurrent heat and hypoxia, or temperate environments improve 20-km TT performance to the same extent. Despite indications of physiological adaptations, the addition of independent heat or concurrent heat and hypoxia provided no greater performance benefits in a temperate environment than temperate training alone.
McCleave, Slattery, Duffield, Crowcroft, Wallace, and Coutts are with the Sport and Exercise Science Discipline Group, Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney, Moore Park, NSW, Australia. Slattery and Crowcroft are with the New South Wales Inst of Sport, Sydney Olympic Park, Sydney, NSW, Australia. Abbiss is with the School of Medical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, WA, Australia. McCleave is with Rowing Australia, Yarralumla, ACT, Australia.