What effect does altitude training have on athletic performance?

Mauro, P.
To determine whether altitude training, and living/sleeping at altitude has any beneficial effect on physical performance in athletic sports. I also aim to identify the positive and negative consequences of living/training at altitude, and suggest possible methods of maximizing performance.
I have considered the evidence in the literature about living and/or training at altitude. A qualitative research study was based solely on this literature review. Major studies conducted in this area, such as that by Stray-Gundersen, 2001, were used as the basis for my research. These studies were examined to try and culminate the information in order to provide athletes with an holistic view of the benefits of living/training at altitude.
To improve sea-level performance, only the live high, train low model has been proven to enhance performance in elite athletes. A 1-3% improvement in sea level performance can be expected by using this method. Athletes need to live at an altitude of 2-3000m, and return to an altitude of less than 1250m to train, for this strategy to work effectively.
Studies are inconsistent in regards to changes in blood chemistry and v02 max from altitude. Training at altitude is unlikely to improve performance at sea level, however, acclimatization to altitude will improve performance at altitude. Future studies need to include a larger sample size, a control group performing the same training program, and an altitude high enough to produce physiological gains.
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Effects of hypoxic interval training on cycling performance


Belle Roels, Grégoire P Millet, Christophe J L Marcoux, Olivier Coste, David J Bentley, Robin B Candau

Impact factor: 2.86, Cited half life: 7.8, Immediacy index: 0.46

Journal: Medicine &amp Science in Sports &amp Exercise

PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that intermittent hypoxic interval training improves sea level cycling performance more than equivalent training in hypoxia or normoxia. METHODS: Thirty-three well-trained cyclists and triathletes (25.9 +/- 2.7 yr, VO(2max) 66.1 +/- 6.1 mL.min(-1).kg(-1)) were divided into three groups: intermittent hypoxic (IHT, N = 11, P(I)O(2) of 100 mm Hg), intermittent hypoxic interval training (IHIT, N = 11) and normoxia (Nor, N = 11, P(I)O(2) of 160 mm Hg) and completed a 7-wk training program, consisting of two high-intensity (100 or 90% relative peak power output) interval training sessions each week. Each interval training session was performed in a laboratory on the subject’s own bicycle, in normoxic or hypoxic conditions for the Nor and the IHT group, respectively. The IHIT group performed warm-up and cool-down plus recovery from each interval in hypoxic conditions. In contrast to IHT, interval exercise bouts were performed in normoxic conditions. RESULTS: Mean power output during a 10-min cycle time trial improved after the first 4 wk of training by 5.2 +/- 3.9, 3.7 +/- 5.9, and 5.0 +/- 3.4% for IHIT, IHT, and Nor, respectively, without significant differences between groups. Moreover, mean power output did not show any significant improvement in the following 3 wk in any group. VO(2max) (L.min(-1)) increased only in IHIT during the training period (8.7 +/- 9.1%; P < 0.05). No changes in cycling efficiency or in hematological variables (P > 0.05) were observed. CONCLUSION: Four weeks of interval training induced an improvement in endurance performance. However, short-term exposure to hypoxia (approximately 114 min.wk(-1)) did not elicit a greater increase in performance or any hematological modifications.
Medicine and science in sports and exercise. 01/01/2005; 37(1):138-46.


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High altitude simulation technology could correct metabolic syndrome

Oct 06,2010 – Dubai, UAE – 6 October, 2010: For decades, spending time in high altitude conditions has been the most successful natural method to effectively enhance oxygen absorption, transport and utilisation by the body. With the prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus and metabolic syndrome one of the highest in the world, discoveries in molecular medicine showing the enormous potential in targeted usage of high altitude climate conditions allows for new strategies for therapy and prevention of the disease in the UAE.

According the Dr Richard Reyes, founder and medical director of the Reyes Longevity Programme, there is a well defined sequence of molecular events which result in the correction of the components of the metabolic syndrome; high cholesterol and triglycerides, high blood pressure, low HDL, type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance.

“The main difference in high altitudes compared to sea level conditions is the decreasing air pressure with increasing height,” says Dr Reyes. “As the air gets ‘thinner’ and the body absorbs less oxygen, the heart rate and breathing increases. The low oxygen saturation in the blood, also known as hypoxia, causes a chain of positive biological adaptations. An increase in red blood cell production, better utilisation of nutrients in muscles and tissues, increased economy of the cardiovascular system and the optimisation of the heart rate at rest are only a few examples of how high altitude conditions can work towards correcting the components of the metabolic syndrome.”

Dr Reyes will be speaking at the 3rd International Congress in Aesthetic, Anti-Aging Medicine & Medical Spa Middle East (ICAAM), which will be held at the Al Bustan Rotana Hotel, Dubai, UAE from 26 to 27 November 2010. Leading experts in aesthetics and anti-aging medicine will be on site to demonstrate latest techniques and showcase latest anti-aging research such as the use of high-altitude climate to correct the metabolic syndrome.

“Changes in response to high altitude can be seen after just one or two hours of training exposure per week,” says Dr Reyes. “Correcting the disrupted metabolic process can go a long way towards slowing down the aging process. Cellular aging is understood in part to be due to the accumulation of the effects of oxidative stress and free radical formation. Exposure to altitude counteracts both of these – it is well recognised that people who live in the mountains have longer lives than those at sea level.”


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Leukocyte’s Hif-1 expression and training-induced erythropoietic response in swimmers


Rémi Mounier, Vincent Pialoux, Anne Cayre, Laurent Schmitt, Jean-Paul Richalet, Paul Robach, Françoise Lasne, Belle Roels, Grégoire Millet, Jean Coudert, Eric Clottes, Nicole Fellmann

Impact factor: 2.86, Cited half life: 7.8, Immediacy index: 0.46

Journal: Medicine &amp Science in Sports &amp Exercise

PURPOSE: Altitude training is popular among athletes to augment oxygen delivery capabilities to tissues and to improve physical performance. Hypoxia inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) controls the expression of several genes’ encoding involved in physiological responses towards reduced oxygen availability, in particular by increasing serum erythropoietin (EPO). It may be involved in the individual variability for erythropoietic markers and/or sea-level performance of athletes using altitude during their training. Therefore, we investigated whether, before training, evolutions of hif-1alpha and ahif (HIF-1alpha natural antisense) transcript amounts and HIF-1alpha protein quantities in leukocytes measured during an acute hypoxia normobaric test (3 h at 3000 m at rest) could allow to predict poor and good responders for hematological markers after a “living high-training low” protocol. METHODS: Eighteen elite swimmers were divided into two groups that followed a 13-d training program: “living low-training low” (1200 m) (LL) or “living high (2500-3000 m)-training low (1200 m)” (LH). RESULTS: During the initial hypoxia test, a strong interindividual variability in the amounts of HIF-1alpha mRNA, aHIF transcript, and HIF-1alpha protein was observed in athlete leukocytes (after vs before): -82%/+396%, -100%/+229%, and -100%/+633%, respectively. After the test, serum erythropoietin concentration was increased (11.2 +/- 0.8 vs 9.8 +/- 0.8 IU.L(-1); +18%, P = 0.01). After the training protocol, total red cell volume (+7.6%, P = 0.04) and circulating hemoglobin amount (48.8 +/- 2.8 vs 45.5 +/- 3.0 mmol; i.e., +7.9%, P = 0.02) were significantly augmented in LH. CONCLUSION: We conclude that hif-1alpha gene expression quantification in leukocytes after a 3-h hypoxia test performed before training does not predict poor and good responder athletes to “living high-training low” model.

Medicine and science in sports and exercise. 01/09/2006;


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Hypoxia training available beyond altitude chambers

By: Mona Brown

October 1, 2010

In recent months FAA Administrator Babbitt has promoted specific tailored hypoxia training, along with high-altitude handling, for commercial and private pilots who want to fly at high altitude. Indeed, FAA Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14CFR) establishes mandatory requirements for high-altitude training using military altitude chambers at 15 U.S. locations, but few chambers are available for candidates in other countries and theoretical presentation is often the limit of studies. However, Biomedtech Australia at Moorabbin, Melbourne, has developed a range of hypoxicators under the trademarks of “go2altitude” and “Altipower” that can provide an acceptable alternative to training in the chamber.

In the last 30 years several accidents have highlighted the importance of hypoxia training. On Sept. 25, 1979, an instructor and student on type conversion were killed in the crash of Beech King Air 200 G-BGHR. Investigators blamed the accident on oxygen system failure. Two decades later, on Oct. 25, 1999, Learjet 35 N47BA crashed, killing the crew and four passengers, including golfer Payne Stewart. The accident was attributed to the airplane’s failure to pressurize. The Sept. 4, 2000, crash of Beech Super King Air 200 VH-SKC killed the pilot and seven passengers. Investigators attributed the accident to a pressurization failure. Finally, a Boeing 737 (5B-DBY) crashed Aug. 14, 2005, killing the crew and 115 passengers. Failure to pressurize was listed as the cause.

The Greek AAIASB report into the 737 accident includes a recommendation that “EASA/JAA should require practical hypoxia training as a mandatory part of flight crew and cabin crew training. This training should include the use of recently developed hypoxia training tools that reduce the amount of oxygen a trainee receives while wearing a mask and performing tasks.” The Biomedtech system was demonstrated to airline personnel at a CAA seminar as an option for hypoxia training.

Researchers were already studying hypoxia before World War I, but it was not until the mid-1930s that the Mayo Clinic investigated the effect of varying the oxygen proportion of air supplied to a pilot’s mask. Unfortunately, it was impossible to measure gas proportions accurately, and the results were inconclusive.

After the 1968 Olympics at Mexico City it became obvious that athletes who trained at high altitude had a significant advantage over those who had trained at lower levels, and Simon Bassovitch of Biomedtech Australia at Moorabbin, Melbourne, started to research the feasibility of providing a portable simulated high-altitude training environment for athletes.

The result was called “hy­­poxicators” and by 1992 Bassovitch specialized in the supply of these systems, which varied the ratio of oxygen to nitrogen to achieve a particular altitude. These hypoxicators–used by athletes worldwide–can help pilots recognize hypoxia without the use of an altitude chamber. Using membrane technology to vary the required oxygen/nitrogen mix, Biomedtech has eliminated the need for cumbersome gas cylinders. The examinee has to hold a breathing mask to his face, experiencing all symptoms of oxygen starvation while being asked to carry out various exercises. All test results are recorded automatically and copies are presented to the candidate in written or DVD form.

Since there is no requirement to have an altitude chamber, trainees need not meet the medical standards required to experience explosive decompression, providing greater flexility of operation.

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Effects of intermittent hypoxic training on amino and fatty acid oxidative combustion in human permeabilized muscle fibers


Belle Roels, Claire Thomas, David J Bentley, Jacques Mercier, Maurice Hayot, Grégoire Millet

Impact factor: 3.63, Cited half life: >10.0, Immediacy index: 0.8

Journal: Journal of Applied Physiology

The effects of concurrent hypoxic/endurance training on mitochondrial respiration in permeabilized fibers in trained athletes were investigated. Eighteen endurance athletes were divided into two training groups: normoxic (Nor, n = 8) and hypoxic (H, n = 10). Three weeks (W1-W3) of endurance training (5 sessions of 1 h to 1 h and 30 min per week) were completed. All training sessions were performed under normoxic [160 Torr inspired Po(2) (Pi(O(2)))] or hypoxic conditions ( approximately 100 Torr Pi(O(2)), approximately 3,000 m) for Nor and H group, respectively, at the same relative intensity. Before and after the training period, an incremental test to exhaustion in normoxia was performed, muscle biopsy samples were taken from the vastus lateralis, and mitochondrial respiration in permeabilized fibers was measured. Peak power output (PPO) increased by 7.2% and 6.6% (P < 0.05) for Nor and H, respectively, whereas maximal O(2) uptake (Vo(2 max)) remained unchanged: 58.1 +/- 0.8 vs. 61.0 +/- 1.2 ml.kg(-1).min(-1) and 58.5 +/- 0.7 vs. 58.3 +/- 0.6 ml.kg(-1).min(-1) for Nor and H, respectively, between pretraining (W0) and posttraining (W4). Maximal ADP-stimulated mitochondrial respiration significantly increased for glutamate + malate (6.27 +/- 0.37 vs. 8.51 +/- 0.33 mumol O(2).min(-1).g dry weight(-1)) and significantly decreased for palmitate + malate (3.88 +/- 0.23 vs. 2.77 +/- 0.08 mumol O(2).min(-1).g dry weight(-1)) in the H group. In contrast, no significant differences were found for the Nor group. The findings demonstrate that 1) a 3-wk training period increased the PPO at sea level without any changes in Vo(2 max), and 2) a 3-wk hypoxic exercise training seems to alter the intrinsic properties of mitochondrial function, i.e., substrate preference.

Journal of applied physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985).


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Must Know Hints Regarding VO2max within High Altitude Training

The results of live reduced with intermittent getting exposed to hypoxia, train low training on efficiency of cyclists are reviewed here.

Ongoing exposure to normal elevation might add more complication towards the hurt cyclist as well as general recuperation could get delayed.The endurance cyclist has to be given right time periods of recovery after every stress training. Numerous high performing height training camps discourage cyclists from descending to coast level to get large intensity training objective.

The range with the exercises has to become produced in thoughts depending upon the fitness skill level achieved through the rider in a time period. Cyclists are exposed to problems of reduced breathable air intake along with hard physiological activity and this situation is usually referred to as hypoxia or a lack of oxygen.

Higher level training will certainly not be categorized so distinctly as beneficial or negative. Because elevation subjection progresses, your physiological results on the cyclist’s body must be examined to fluctuate the future training structure.

Usually the hurt triathletes may get at additional added benefits by executing the non-real elevation riding because of bigger cardiac response for decreased potential result.Every physical coaching workout session influences variation on the cyclist to the atmosphere and they achieve the conditioning skill level. A scientific boost in the anxiety amounts from the endurance training guide the cyclist to higher efficiency.The rider who is prevented from higher potential components at sea levels might train at a large altitude to accomplish fairly large core rates.

In that respect there looks like being no relationship between the EPO enhance with red blood cellular improve or perhaps maximal oxygen uptake or enhanced overall performance.

The trainer should do an important mountain bike training programs study during the application of the altitude endurance training to the appropriate participant

Scientists have done a great deal of studies and posted assessments on high level direct exposure like a technique encouraging to additional athletic categories of cycling science.

Intense descriptions from the procedure and rewards of altitude instruction happen to be published in numerous comprehensible assessments.Researchers in the European countries have been the first to provide out their own summaries on the effects of elevation training performed on professional some athletes.

Aside from the researchers mentioned above in the European countries were the initial to present out their reviews on the benefits connected with height exercising performed on skilled sports athletes such as different strength sports. Details upon Altitude Training Analysis. Inside the year about 10 years ago, a couple of doctors, and recognized altitude experts specifically, Allan Hahn and Chris Gore written and published clear reviews concerning elevation coaching that was go through and got achieved positive results by the riders and their coaches who took portion in planet opposition.

In spite of such complex reviews, intervals education remains to be a mystery for any trainers around determining other athletic sports



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Effects of intermittent hypoxic training on cycling performance in well-trained athletes


Belle Roels, David J Bentley, Olivier Coste, Jacques Mercier, Grégoire P Millet

Impact factor: 1.75, Cited half life: 8.4, Immediacy index: 0.25

Journal: Arbeitsphysiologie

This study aimed to investigate the effects of a short-term period of intermittent hypoxic training (IHT) on cycling performance in athletes. Nineteen participants were randomly assigned to two groups: normoxic (NT, n = 9) and intermittent hypoxic training group (IHT, n = 10). A 3-week training program (5 x 1 h-1 h 30 min per week) was completed. Training sessions were performed in normoxia (approximately 30 m) or hypoxia (simulated altitude of 3,000 m) for NT and IHT group, respectively. Each subject performed before (W0) and after (W4) the training program, three cycling tests including an incremental test to exhaustion in normoxia and hypoxia for determination of maximal aerobic power (VO2max) and peak power output (PPO) as well as a 10-min cycle time trial in normoxia (TT) to measure the average power output (P(aver)). No significant difference in VO2max was observed between the two training groups before or after the training period. When measured in normoxia, the PPO significantly increased (P < 0.05) by 7.2 and 6.6% in NT and IHT groups, respectively. However, only the IHT group significantly improved (11.3%; P < 0.05) PPO when measured in hypoxia. The NT group improved (P < 0.05) P(aver) in TT by 8.1%, whereas IHT group did not show any significant difference. Intermittent training performed in hypoxia was less efficient for improving endurance performance at sea level than similar training performed in normoxia. However, IHT has the potential to assist athletes in preparation for competition at altitude.

European journal of applied physiology. 01/11/2007;


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Intermittent Hypoxic Training Wellness Vacations

We often take breathing for granted; after all, we do it automatically. But, when our breathing isn’t efficient, when we breath poor quality air, our health can suffer. We often turn to inhalers or other drugs, and occasionally to meditation. We may even learn proven new breathing techniques like the Buteyko Method.

Now, Dr. Tamara Voronina has taken a health-improving technique reserved for Olympic athletes, pilots and astronauts and made it available to everyone. She has even started a special cruise line to highlight her new treatment: Rejuvenation Cruises.

The new treatment, Intermittent Hypoxic Training (IHT), was first introduced into Britain by Dr. Voronina. According to her website, this technique results in relaxation, strengthening of the immune system and release of excess water and detoxification. The following can be treated with this approach:

-Depression, panic attack and anxiety

-Pulmonary conditions, such as asthma and chronic occupational lung diseases

-Cardiovascular diseases, all conditions which are connected with poor circulation

-Metabolic diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol

-Skin diseases (acne, eczema, and allergy)

-Eye trauma

-Iron deficiency anemia


-Reduction in post-radiation therapy side effects

-Improved sport performance

-Improved sexual health

Dr. Voronina also offers equipment so that this training can be done at home.

Intermittent hypoxic training is a method that can make the body use oxygen effectively and this way slow down the disintegration of our body. This method consists of the patient repeatedly inhaling air via special altitude equipment for a few minutes at a time whose oxygen content is equivalent to the air at an altitude of 3500-5800 meters above sea level. (rejuvenationcruises.org)


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Effect of intermittent hypoxic training on HIF gene expression in human skeletal muscle and leukocytes


Rémi Mounier, Vincent Pialoux, Belle Roels, Claire Thomas, Grégoire Millet, Jacques Mercier, Jean Coudert, Nicole Fellmann, Eric Clottes

Impact factor: 1.75, Cited half life: 8.4, Immediacy index: 0.25

Journal: Arbeitsphysiologie

Intermittent hypoxic exposure with exercise training is based on the assumption that brief exposure to hypoxia is sufficient to induce beneficial muscular adaptations mediated via hypoxia-inducible transcription factors (HIF). We previously demonstrated (Mounier et al. Med Sci Sports Exerc 38:1410-1417, 2006) that leukocytes respond to hypoxia with a marked inter-individual variability in HIF-1alpha mRNA. This study compared the effects of 3 weeks of intermittent hypoxic training on hif gene expression in both skeletal muscle and leukocytes. Male endurance athletes (n = 19) were divided into an Intermittent Hypoxic Exposure group (IHE) and a Normoxic Training group (NT) with each group following a similar 3-week exercise training program. After training, the amount of HIF-1alpha mRNA in muscle decreased only in IHE group (-24.7%, P < 0.05) whereas it remained unchanged in leukocytes in both groups. The levels of vEGF(121) and vEGF(165) mRNA in skeletal muscle increased significantly after training only in the NT group (+82.5%, P < 0.05 for vEGF(121); +41.2%, P < 0.05 for vEGF(165)). In leukocytes, only the IHE group showed a significant change in vEGF(165) (-28.2%, P < 0.05). The significant decrease in HIF-1alpha mRNA in skeletal muscle after hypoxic training suggests that transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulations of the hif-1alpha gene are different in muscle and leukocytes.

European journal of applied physiology. 01/11/2008;


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