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Torben Pottgiesser, Laura A. Garvican, David T. Martin, Jesse M. Featonby, Christopher J. Gore and Yorck O. Schumacher

Hemoglobin mass (tHb) is considered to be a main factor for sea-level performance after “live high–train low” (LHTL) altitude training, but little research has focused on the persistence of tHb following cessation of altitude exposure. The aim of the case study was to investigate short-term effects of various hematological measures including tHb upon completion of a simulated altitude camp. Five female cyclists spent 26 nights at simulated altitude (LHTL, 16.6 ± 0.4 h/d, 3000 m in an altitude house) where tHb was measured at baseline, at cessation of the camp, and 9 d thereafter. Venous blood measures (hemoglobin concentration, hematocrit, %reticulocytes, serum erythropoietin, ferritin, lactate dehydrogenase, and haptoglobin) were determined at baseline; on day 21 during LHTL; and at days 2, 5, and 9 after LHTL. Hemoglobin mass increased by 5.5% (90% confidence limits [CL] 2.5 to 8.5%, very likely) after the LHTL training camp. At day 9 after simulated LHTL, tHb decreased by 3.0% (90%CL −5.1 to −1.0%, likely). There was a substantial decrease in serum EPO (−34%, 90%CL −50 to −12%) at 2 d after return to sea level and a rise in ferritin (23%, 90%CL 3 to 46%) coupled with a decrease in %reticulocytes (−23%, 90%CL −34 to −9%) between day 5 and 9 after LHTL. Our findings show that following a hypoxic intervention with a beneficial tHb outcome, there may be a high probability of a rapid tHb decrease upon return to normoxic conditions. This highlights a rapid component in red-cell control and may have implications for the appropriate timing of altitude training in relation to competition.