Many high-performance endurance athletes undertake specialized forms of altitude training. The lack of agreement regarding the effects of altitude training on hematology and performance is partially explained by various differences in the methodology of altitude training studies. 1 For example
Ida A. Heikura, Louise M. Burke, Dan Bergland, Arja L.T. Uusitalo, Antti A. Mero and Trent Stellingwerff
Abigail S.L. Stickford, Daniel P. Wilhite and Robert F. Chapman
Investigations into ventilatory, metabolic, and hematological changes with altitude training have been completed; however, there is a lack of research exploring potential gait-kinematic changes after altitude training, despite a common complaint of athletes being a lack of leg "turnover" on return from altitude training.
To determine if select kinematic variables changed in a group of elite distance runners after 4 wk of altitude training.
Six elite male distance runners completed a 28-d altitude-training intervention in Flagstaff, AZ (2150 m), following a modified “live high–train low” model, wherein higherintensity runs were performed at lower altitudes (945–1150 m) and low-intensity sessions were completed at higher altitudes (1950–2850 m). Gait parameters were measured 2–9 d before departure to altitude and 1 to 2 d after returning to sea level at running speeds of 300–360 m/min.
No differences were found in ground-contact time, swing time, or stride length or frequency after altitude training (P > .05).
Running mechanics are not affected by chronic altitude training in elite distance runners. The data suggest that either chronic training at altitude truly has no effect on running mechanics or completing the live high–train low model of altitude training, where higher-velocity workouts are completed at lower elevations, mitigates any negative mechanical adaptations that may be associated with chronic training at slower speeds.
Blake D. McLean, David Buttifant, Christopher J. Gore, Kevin White, Carsten Liess and Justin Kemp
Little research has been done on the physiological and performance effects of altitude training on team-sport athletes. Therefore, this study examined changes in 2000-m time-trial running performance (TT), hemoglobin mass (Hbmass), and intramuscular carnosine content of elite Australian Football (AF) players after a preseason altitude camp.
Thirty elite AF players completed 19 days of living and training at either moderate altitude (~2130 m; ALT, n = 21) or sea level (CON, n = 9). TT performance and Hbmass were assessed preintervention (PRE) and postintervention (POST1) in both groups and at 4 wk after returning to sea level (POST2) in ALT only.
Improvement in TT performance after altitude was likely 1.5% (± 4.8–90%CL) greater in ALT than in CON, with an individual responsiveness of 0.8%. Improvements in TT were maintained at POST2 in ALT. Hbmass after altitude was very likely increased in ALT compared with CON (2.8% ± 3.5%), with an individual responsiveness of 1.3%. Hbmass returned to baseline at POST2. Intramuscular carnosine did not change in either gastrocnemius or soleus from PRE to POST1.
A preseason altitude camp improved TT performance and Hbmass in elite AF players to a magnitude similar to that demonstrated by elite endurance athletes undertaking altitude training. The individual responsiveness of both TT and Hbmass was approximately half the group mean effect, indicating that most players gained benefit. The maintenance of running performance for 4 wk, despite Hbmass returning to baseline, suggests that altitude training is a valuable preparation for AF players leading into the competitive season.
Amy L. Woods, Avish P. Sharma, Laura A. Garvican-Lewis, Philo U. Saunders, Anthony J. Rice and Kevin G. Thompson
High altitude exposure can increase resting metabolic rate (RMR) and induce weight loss in obese populations, but there is a lack of research regarding RMR in athletes at moderate elevations common to endurance training camps. The present study aimed to determine whether 4 weeks of classical altitude training affects RMR in middle-distance runners. Ten highly trained athletes were recruited for 4 weeks of endurance training undertaking identical programs at either 2200m in Flagstaff, Arizona (ALT, n = 5) or 600m in Canberra, Australia (CON, n = 5). RMR, anthropometry, energy intake, and hemoglobin mass (Hbmass) were assessed pre- and posttraining. Weekly run distance during the training block was: ALT 96.8 ± 18.3km; CON 103.1 ± 5.6km. A significant interaction for Time*Group was observed for absolute (kJ.day-1) (F-statistic, p-value: F(1,8)=13.890, p = .01) and relative RMR (F(1,8)=653.453, p = .003) POST-training. No significant changes in anthropometry were observed in either group. Energy intake was unchanged (mean ± SD of difference, ALT: 195 ± 3921kJ, p = .25; CON: 836 ± 7535kJ, p = .75). A significant main effect for time was demonstrated for total Hbmass (g) (F(1,8)=13.380, p = .01), but no significant interactions were observed for either variable [Total Hbmass (g): F(1,8)=1.706, p = .23; Relative Hbmass (g.kg-1): F(1,8)=0.609, p = .46]. These novel findings have important practical application to endurance athletes routinely training at moderate altitude, and those seeking to optimize energy management without compromising training adaptation. Altitude exposure may increase RMR and enhance training adaptation,. During training camps at moderate altitude, an increased energy intake is likely required to support an increased RMR and provide sufficient energy for training and performance.
Avish P. Sharma, Philo U. Saunders, Laura A. Garvican-Lewis, Brad Clark, Marijke Welvaert, Christopher J. Gore and Kevin G. Thompson
Altitude training is used by athletes to improve sea-level performance subsequent to adaptations acquired during altitude acclimatization and/or associated training in hypoxia. 1 Two questions consistently debated regarding the use of altitude training are (1) how high to live/train and (2) when
Philo U. Saunders, Christoph Ahlgrim, Brent Vallance, Daniel J. Green, Eileen Y. Robertson, Sally A. Clark, Yorck O. Schumacher and Christopher J. Gore
To quantify physiological and performance effects of hypoxic exposure, a training camp, the placebo effect, and a combination of these factors.
Elite Australian and International race walkers (n = 17) were recruited, including men and women. Three groups were assigned: 1) Live High:Train Low (LHTL, n = 6) of 14 h/d at 3000 m simulated altitude; 2) Placebo (n = 6) of 14 h/d of normoxic exposure (600 m); and 3) Nocebo (n = 5) living in normoxia. All groups undertook similar training during the intervention. Physiological and performance measures included 10-min maximal treadmill distance, peak oxygen uptake (VO2peak), walking economy, and hemoglobin mass (Hbmass).
Blinding failed, so the Placebo group was a second control group aware of the treatment. All three groups improved treadmill performance by approx. 4%. Compared with Placebo, LHTL increased Hbmass by 8.6% (90% CI: 3.5 to 14.0%; P = .01, very likely), VO2peak by 2.7% (-2.2 to 7.9%; P = .34, possibly), but had no additional improvement in treadmill distance (-0.8%, -4.6 to 3.8%; P = .75, unlikely) or economy (-8.2%, -24.1 to 5.7%; P = .31, unlikely). Compared with Nocebo, LHTL increased Hbmass by 5.5% (2.5 to 8.7%; P = .01, very likely), VO2peak by 5.8% (2.3 to 9.4%; P = .02, very likely), but had no additional improvement in treadmill distance (0.3%, -1.9 to 2.5%; P = .75, possibly) and had a decrease in walking economy (-16.5%, -30.5 to 3.9%; P = .04, very likely).
Overall, 3-wk LHTL simulated altitude training for 14 h/d increased Hbmass and VO2peak, but the improvement in treadmill performance was not greater than the training camp effect.
Darrell L. Bonetti, Will G. Hopkins and Andrew E. Kilding
Live-high train-low altitude training produces worthwhile gains in performance for endurance athletes, but the benefits of adaptation to various forms of artificial altitude are less clear.
To quantify the effects of intermittent hypoxic exposure on kayak performance.
In a crossover design with a 6-week washout, we randomized 10 subelite male sprint kayak paddlers to hypoxia or control groups for 3 weeks (5 days/week) of intermittent hypoxic exposure using a nitrogen-filtration device. Each day's exposure consisted of alternately breathing hypoxic and ambient air for 5 minutes each over 1 hour. Performance tests were an incremental step test to estimate peak power, maximal oxygen uptake, exercise economy, and lactate threshold; a 500-m time trial; and 5 × 100-m sprints. All tests were performed on a wind-braked kayak ergometer 7 and 3 days pretreatment and 3 and 10 days post treatment. Hemoglobin concentration was measured at 1 day pretreatment, 5 and 10 days during treatment, and 3 days after treatment.
Relative to control, at 3 days post treatment the hypoxia group showed the following increases: peak power 6.8% (90% confidence limits, ± 5.2%), mean repeat sprint power 8.3% (± 6.7%), and hemoglobin concentration 3.6% (± 3.2%). Changes in lactate threshold, mean 500-m power, maximal oxygen uptake, and exercise economy were unclear. Large effects for peak power and mean sprint speed were still present 10 days posthypoxia.
These effects of intermittent hypoxic exposure should enhance performance in kayak racing. The effects might be mediated via changes in oxygen transport.
Philo U. Saunders, Laura A. Garvican-Lewis, Robert F. Chapman and Julien D. Périard
strain ( Goto et al., 2010 ). Altitude Training for Improved Training and Competition in Normoxia Adaptation to Altitude Physiologically, endurance exercise performance at altitude is primarily affected by a reduction in oxygen delivery to the musculature ( Chapman, 2013 ). Within minutes of exposure to
Paul S.R. Goods, Brian T. Dawson, Grant J. Landers, Christopher J. Gore and Peter Peeling
This study aimed to assess the impact of 3 heights of simulated altitude exposure on repeat-sprint performance in teamsport athletes.
Ten trained male team-sport athletes completed 3 sets of repeated sprints (9 × 4 s) on a nonmotorized treadmill at sea level and at simulated altitudes of 2000, 3000, and 4000 m. Participants completed 4 trials in a random order over 4 wk, with mean power output (MPO), peak power output (PPO), blood lactate concentration (Bla), and oxygen saturation (SaO2) recorded after each set.
Each increase in simulated altitude corresponded with a significant decrease in SaO2. Total work across all sets was highest at sea level and correspondingly lower at each successive altitude (P < .05; sea level < 2000 m < 3000 m < 4000 m). In the first set, MPO was reduced only at 4000 m, but for subsequent sets, decreases in MPO were observed at all altitudes (P < .05; 2000 m < 3000 m < 4000 m). PPO was maintained in all sets except for set 3 at 4000 m (P < .05; vs sea level and 2000 m). BLa levels were highest at 4000 m and significantly greater (P < .05) than at sea level after all sets.
These results suggest that “higher may not be better,” as a simulated altitude of 4000 m may potentially blunt absolute training quality. Therefore, it is recommended that a moderate simulated altitude (2000–3000 m) be employed when implementing intermittent hypoxic repeat-sprint training for team-sport athletes.
Adam Beard, John Ashby, Ryan Chambers, Franck Brocherie and Grégoire P. Millet
Purpose: To investigate the effects of repeated-sprint training in hypoxia vs in normoxia on world-level male rugby union players’ repeated-sprint ability (RSA) during an international competition period. Methods: A total of 19 players belonging to an international rugby union senior male national team performed 4 sessions of cycling repeated sprints (consisting of 3 × eight 10-s sprints with 20 s passive recovery) either in normobaric hypoxia (RSH, 3000 m; n = 10) or in normoxia (RSN, 300 m; n = 9) over a 2-wk period. Before and after the training intervention, RSA was evaluated using a cycling repeated-sprint test (6 × 10-s maximal sprint and 20-s passive recovery) performed in normoxia. Results: Significant interaction effects (all P < .05,