Climbing Kilimanjaro? Here’s Why You Should Be Doing Simulated Altitude Training

Climbing Kilimanjaro? Here’s Why You Should Be Doing Simulated Altitude Training

You’ve decided to climb Kilimanjaro. At 5,895 m, you’ll be tackling the tallest mountain in Africa. Are you ready?

Being physically prepared is critical to a successful climb. You want to think back on your trip with fond memories of reaching the summit and feeling good, not turning back early. For most of us, these trips are an expensive, once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing. Having to cut your trip short due to altitude sickness, lack of fitness or both is a shame. Especially because there are tools out there to help prevent that from happening.


Simulated Altitude Training for Climbing Kilimanjaro

If you live at sea-level and can’t easily access the mountains, you may want to consider what’s called ‘simulated altitude training’. Simulated altitude training is exercising in or breathing air with less oxygen to replicate the thinner air you find up in the mountains. Simulated altitude is created by decreasing the percentage of oxygen in the air below 20.9% oxygen (the amount of oxygen in the air at sea-level).

From sleeping in an altitude tent to lifting weights at an altitude gym, simulated altitude training methods can be used to get you ready for Kilimanjaro. We break down the two most commonly used methods below:


Method 1: Intermittent Hypoxic Training

Intermittent Hypoxic Training (IHT) is living at sea-level and exercising at altitude. If you’ve got a stationary bike or treadmill at home, you can use a simulated altitude training mask to breath hypoxic air while you’re training. Otherwise, there are special gyms that can actually simulate altitude with no masks needed. 

These shorter duration workouts at simulated altitude are designed to provide a greater training intensity. They trigger physiological adaptations that can improve overall health and performance. These adaptations require a minimum training period of 4-6 weeks, 3-4x per week. Sessions should last around 60 minutes.

Simulated Altitude Gym – Intermittent Hypoxic Training


Perform better at high-altitude

IHT optimizes the body’s ability to use and process the oxygen available to it. Why does that matter to you as a hiker preparing for Kilimanjaro? Because when your muscles and tissues use oxygen more efficiently, you can sustain longer periods of exertion. This becomes especially important when there is less oxygen available to you at high altitudes.

Another good thing about training your body to use oxygen more efficiently? You’ll reduce reliance on supplemental oxygen. Usually, climbers do not need supplemental oxygen to climb Kilimanjaro or reach the summit. But, if you find yourself in a position where you do need it, training at altitude can help extend the life of your oxygen tank.


Delay fatigue and recover faster between treks

The more you can push away the start of fatigue during your trek, the better. In altitude environments, metabolic by-products associated with fatigue build up quicker with less oxygen available to the muscles. (Think of that burning feeling in your legs during a hard spin class). Training at simulated altitude can reduce and delay the onset of fatigue during physical activity by increasing the buffering capacity of metabolic by-products. We’re essentially making our bodies better at pushing away these fatigue-causing by-products.


Method 2: Live High, Train Low

Live high train low (LHTL) is living at high altitudes and training at lower altitudes (close to sea-level). Living in an altitude environment stimulates changes in the blood that can lead to improved performance and help with pre-acclimation.

If you live at sea-level, it’s not easy to just pack up and move out to a place like Flagstaff, Arizona where you can live at 2100m and a short 30-minute commute can get you to 950m. An easier option? Sleep tents and larger altitude tents can be set up at home, so you can get 6+ hours of high-altitude exposure and then be back down to sea-level in seconds. This strategy requires a minimum of 3-4 weeks. However, 6-12 weeks is better so that the altitude can be ramped up slowly.


Reduce risk of Acute Mountain Sickness

LHTL can lower the age of red blood cells and increase hemoglobin mass (hemoglobin is an oxygen-carrying protein). These changes in the blood can help reduce and prevent symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). Also, many people struggle when sleeping at altitude. Fatigue will increase the risk of something going wrong on the mountain. Sleeping at altitude in the weeks leading up to your trip will help your body get used to the reduced oxygen and improve quality of sleep.


 Altitude Sleep Tent for Live Low Train High


Climbing Kilimanjaro is a physical challenge. Many people underestimate the fitness required for this mountain. (Or say they would have enjoyed the trip more had they been in better shape.)Simulated altitude training will not only help you get in shape for the climb, but also prepare you for the altitude. Then, your hard work will be rewarded by a beautiful, peaceful and enjoyable climb.







Altitude Athletic is Toronto’s first and one of the largest altitude training facilities in the world. We’re here to help you prepare for your next big climb, event or meet your health goals. Click here to learn more about what we do at Altitude.

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A Conversation With Justyn Knight – Canadian Record Holder and Olympic Track Star

A Conversation With Justyn Knight – Canadian Record Holder and Olympic Track Star

“Don’t be scared to fail, I fail all the time” – Justyn Knight

At the end of the February, we capped off The Altitude 5K Challenge. This was a challenge for runners of all levels to see who can run the fastest 5km on the treadmill when the altitude chamber is set to 9000ft elevation.

After a month that saw all sorts of runners from the community come out and participate in some friendly competition, we were left with our winners. Congratulations to our top runners – Dan Rowland and Catherine Dawe – on running the fastest times of 18:20 and 23:00 respectively in the male and female categories.

To top off our event, I was able to do an interview via Instagram live with one of the world’s fastest 5km runners, Justyn Knight. To check out the full interview – head on over to our Instagram page here or view the full clip at the bottom of this blog post. It was full of laughs, heartfelt words and some “off the track questions.”

If you are unfamiliar with Justyn, he has a fairly impressive resume on the track. Justyn competed at the Tokyo Olympics, placing 7th overall in the 5000m race. He’s also the Canadian record holder for the indoor 1500m. He holds the second fastest 5000m in North America running a time of 12 minutes and 51 seconds. He’s a two-time world finalist, two-time NCAA champion and jokingly the best self-proclaimed dual athlete in the Greater Toronto Area (he actually might be right).

In today’s blog post, I will be highlighting some of Justyn’s responses in case you don’t have time to watch the entire interview. I get you are probably busy!


All Things Justyn And Running

“Was running always your passion?”

To some people’s surprise, for quite some time running was NOT his passion. Justyn was all about the “balling life” and lived and breathed basketball for much of his life, including high school. He actually got into running by accident, well sort of an accident. Although he was a stand out basketball athlete, he was not doing well in gym class, and to boost his mark he had to go run 5km. Wearing only basketball shoes and shorts, he started his run and set a 5km school record. From there, he realized that he should give running a shot. But this came at a cost of choosing between running and basketball. I think he made the correct decision.

“What are some tips for someone just getting into running?”

Truly falling in love with running is something Justyn thinks is extremely important, it is not something you can do for 10 hours all day like shoot hoops, pucks or playing volleyball. It is a different type of fun, so you have to find ways to keep it fun. He also said, “Notice and internalize your wins in running, those will help you keep going no matter how small they are.”

“What are your tips for someone pursuing a career in running?”

Pursuing a career or any professional sport is extremely difficult and not glamourous like people might think it is. There is a lot of time spent in the proverbial “trenches of training”. You are on a journey that won’t be a straight line to the top. Don’t compare yourself to others because you have no idea where that person is on in their journey. We also live in a day and age of social media.

People posting their workouts can create a comparison culture. Justyn felt this when he would see people training paces that he wasn’t doing and sometimes felt discouraged. Running is very independent, so have faith in the way you are training. The greatest sprinter of all time – Usain Bolt – didn’t have very nice facilities or the best technology. So fancy isn’t always better.


Justyn On Tackling BIG Goals

Justyn has his own little spin when it comes to setting goals. You have probably heard of the acronym S.M.A.R.T goals – with the “R” standing for realistic. Well, when you compete at the highest level you probably have to do things a little differently and cliché acronyms might not work. That’s why Justyn talked about setting unrealistic goals for himself.

Of course, it takes some mental toughness to know you that you will likely fall consistently short of your goals. Justyn’s theory is that if he shows up to practice and trains for that unrealistic goal, falling short of his goal will still put him in a place of success. Races rarely go perfect. Even if you did everything right you can’t control what others do in the race. In his mind, if he just set realistic goals, he might not perform at the level he wants to.


Overcoming Failure

People will say that was an L (loss), but to me that L stands for lesson, and you can always learn from a loss” – Justyn Knight

People looking from the outside in often just see Justyn as this incredibly successful runner. You hear the stories of the winning moments far more than the losses he had endured through his running career. He had two pivotal moments in his running career. The first one was during college when he first paced 143rd and then one year later came in 4th. The second was when he turned pro, he came in 25 pounds over race weight, running his slowest time ever and placing dead last.

He kept that race bib wrote his time on it and put it up on his fridge as a reminder of the disappointment he felt, and what he was working towards everyday. Justyn has a unique way of dealing with his failures. He doesn’t simply ignore them. But rather, immerses himself in his feelings and “feels bad” for himself for around 2 days before he bounces back. Once he bounces back, he remembers not to take today for granted because it will impact tomorrow.



Celebrating Successes

Justyn would not be where he is today if it wasn’t for his talent and incredible work ethic. He shared some of his sweetest memories of racing. In 2017, he went to the world championship finals and was racing against people he watched on TV. These were people who he looked up to as role models.

Prior to the race, he looked at the final heat and felt like he had no business being in that race. Yet he still placed in the middle of the pack in 9th position – a milestone so young in his career. His all-time favourite memory was not at the Olympics. But rather winning a national championship with his team at Syracuse University. Running is a very independent sport. But when you win as a team and you can share that experience it just makes it so much more magical.


Fun Facts About Justyn

“Who is your childhood hero”

Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, their work ethic was unmatched and that’s what I strive for.

“If you were to pick an animal that most closely represents your personality traits, what are you choosing?”

My little cockapoo dog, we both get up to no good.

“If you were going on a first date where is the first date taking place?”

Couldn’t give away his secret…..but he does love the cheese cake factory.

“What is your middle name”


“What is your go to pump up song”

Rumors by Lil’ Dirk

“What is your pre race meal?”

It was chicken parmesan in college but now I don’t have to have it anymore because competing internationally you don’t know what food you will have access to.

“Do you do any cross training?”

He does weight training and plyometrics, but doesn’t really know his plan, just does what the coach tells him to do.

(As someone who trains lots of athletes, I can verify this happens more than often, even at the professional level.)

“Would you ever do a group run led by yourself for the local fans of Toronto?

Yes! As long as people are going to show up….so if you are in the Toronto area and love running be on the look out for this post.



It was an absolute pleasure to interview Justyn Knight, he is truly a one-of-a-kind person. He’s down-to-earth, humble and fiercely competitive. But he also knows not to take life so seriously and have some good laughs. He is a true leader in his community on and off the tack. Thank you Justyn!

You can follow him on Instagram @justyn.knight for more updates on his career and maybe a chance to participate in a community led run by the legend himself, stay tuned!

About the Author

About the Author

TJ McInnes

TJ McInnes is one of our Strength and Conditioning Coaches here at Altitude Athletics. He has a strong background in strength and conditioning and high performance coaching and is passionate about developing and delivering exercise programming that is tailored to his clients wants and needs. He has a particular interest in the athletic population and is constantly seeking a better understanding of the art and science of effective coaching.

A strong interest in sport and physical activity has led him to complete his Bachelor of Arts in Kinesiology and Physical Education at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo. He went on to complete his Masters of Professional Kinesiology at the University of Toronto, with a specialization in high performance. He has since completed additional certification in a wide range of areas of nutrition, sleep and recovery, functional strength, neurology, biomechanics and exercise selection.

Altitude Athletic is Toronto’s first and one of the largest altitude training facilities in the world. We’re here to help you prepare for your next big climb, event or meet your health goals. Click here to learn more about what we do at Altitude.

Contact Us

How to Run Your Fastest 5K Ever

How to Run Your Fastest 5K Ever

If you’re a beginner runner, 5 km is the perfect ‘first race” distance to prepare for. If you’re more experienced and enjoy speed, you can use the 5K distance as a platform to push faster times and try for new PBs. Regardless of your level or intention, completing a successful (and fast 5K) requires training and practice. Here are some tips on how to run your fastest 5K ever.


1. Have a Plan



Running a 5K fast is a challenge. And just like most other challenges in life, it helps to be prepared. So, unless your 5K is tomorrow, now is the time to make a plan. Start with answering, “what is your goal?”. Your goal should be realistic and dictated by how much time you can put into your training, how experienced you are and your current fitness level. 

Having a plan ensures you aren’t just training blindly or trying to run 5km every training session. You should have a comprehensive schedule that includes a balance of speed work, recovery, base runs and strength training. Keep on track with your plan by monitoring your heart rate and pace. 

In general, we recommend starting your training at least a month in advance. 3 months will give you plenty of time to get race ready, but it all comes back to your initial goal. Other variables like your fitness level and running experience will also play a part. Again, your plan should include a breakdown of your interval run days, base runs, strength/cross training and recovery to get the most out of your training.  

Strategies like building a tapering period into the days leading up to your race will ensure you aren’t weighed down by training and have given your body the chance to recover and re-energize. If you keep on training hard right up until the day of your race, it might actually hinder your performance!

If this is all new to you and you don’t know how to plan? Reach out to one of our coaches at Altitude! You can book a coach consult to come into the facility and talk about your goals and training needs here: SCHEDULE COACH CONSULT


2. Incorporate Intervals 


5Ks are fast-paced and usually over before you even know it. Be prepared to keep up with the pace and accelerate in key moments. In a marathon, you may get away with purely aerobic training. But in a 5K, you’ll want to work on what’s called your anaerobic energy system. Interval training (alternating between hard and easy efforts) will help increase your aerobic and anaerobic energy system. Need to pass someone quickly? Or finish pick your speed for the last leg of the race? You may need to tap in to your anaerobic energy system for the extra burst to make sure you reach your goal.   


3. Start (or Continue) Strength Training 


As runners, strength training can be a bit boring and feel unnecessary. But it’s actually a fundamental part of boosting speed and efficiency and protecting us from injury. Although the bulk of your training will be running, it would be a mistake to neglect strength.  

Strength training can improve the elastic capabilities of your muscles and tendons. While you run, your muscles are contracting and using energy. It’s hard work! What if there was something that could save you from burning through precious energy in a race? Well, by strength training and working on plyometrics, you can tap into that elastic energy and reduce the load on your muscles. We can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t want to take advantage of an energy save like that!

Strength training can also keep tissue strong and resilient to reduce chance of acute and chronic injury. Remember, running is an impact sport, and strength training can save you from the aches and pains you can suffer down the road. This will allow you to do what you love more often.  



 4. Know Your Target Pace



Like we mentioned earlier, having a goal is key to running a fast 5km. So you will need to set a base line at the beginning of your training so you know a pace you can sustain over the 5km.

If you are just starting to get into running, you may have no idea. Just going out on a run and experimenting with speeds can be an easy way to pinpoint your starting pace. Additionally, there are many free pace calculators on the internet to help you get a feel for pacing. Wearable tech – like a smart watch – can also be used to help track your pace in real time.

Remember, shaving off significant time on your pace doesn’t happen overnight, stick to the training plan and make adjustments. That being said this leads us into our next tip.  



5. Be Consistent 


We have emphasized the importance of having a plan a few times in this post, only because it is so important. But we all know that sometimes things get in the way and plans go out the window. And that’s okay! If you find yourself in a situation where you are falling off track, remember that doing something is better than nothing, even if it’s not exactly what you planned.  

As long as you are feeling good and pain-free, keep consistent with movement so that when your race day rolls around you aren’t coming into it from days (or even weeks) on the couch or at the desk. It can be helpful to create a Plan B workout for if you can’t make a run on a certain day – I.e., a quick 10-minute HIIT workout, a 30-minute walk during a conference call or some stretching at night to keep your body loose and mobile.  

It also helps to find a running partner to train with (ideally on the same plan!) that can help keep you accountable and just makes training more fun to engage with others.  



6. Work on Your Breath



You probably never thought you could be bad at something you do more than 20,000 times a day, but there are better ways to breathe and worse ways to breathe. And breathing can help you run a fast 5K. 

Developing good breathing patterns will help you get sufficient O2 to your limbs to help your engine keep gunning. The diaphragm is a massive muscle and we need it to work well to breathe well, therefore training it is important. Secondly, nose breathing can help with relaxing our blood vessels to increase blood flow an O2 delivery systemically.

What is a good breathing pattern and how can you practice good breathing? Here’s an example: Lay on your back, put your feet flat on the ground (hook lying position). Next, put one hand on your chest the other on your stomach. Take a deep breath in through your nose, you should feel your stomach rise and then your chest. Practice breathing in through your nose for 5 seconds and slowly exhaling out for 5 seconds. The bonus of doing this is decreasing your stress levels too, so give it a try.


7. Recover Well



It isn’t all about the training! Your ability to run your fastest 5K is influenced by your ability to recover well throughout training. Recovery is so important, because this is when your body fulfills the adaptations you work so hard to get from training, like stimulating more robust energy systems and stronger tissue.  

So how can you recovery well? It isn’t sexy like all the recovery modalities make it out to look like. Really you just need to focus on the basics – good nutrition, hydration and the most important, sleep. Once you’ve gotten that covered and do those few things then you can get into extra modalities like expensive massage guns, ice baths and red-light therapy.  

So there you have it, that’s how you can run your fastest 5K ever. Even just taking a few of these tips will set you on the right back towards running your fastest 5K ever. And remember, at the end of the day the most important thing is that you have fun and enjoy each step along the 5000 m course.

We’re here to help you optimize your prep for any race distance. Learn more about training options at Altitude here.


About the Author

About the Author

TJ McInnes

TJ McInnes is one of our Strength and Conditioning Coaches here at Altitude Athletics. He has a strong background in strength and conditioning and high performance coaching and is passionate about developing and delivering exercise programming that is tailored to his clients wants and needs. He has a particular interest in the athletic population and is constantly seeking a better understanding of the art and science of effective coaching.

A strong interest in sport and physical activity has led him to complete his Bachelor of Arts in Kinesiology and Physical Education at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo. He went on to complete his Masters of Professional Kinesiology at the University of Toronto, with a specialization in high performance. He has since completed additional certification in a wide range of areas of nutrition, sleep and recovery, functional strength, neurology, biomechanics and exercise selection.

Altitude Training for Cardiac Rehab and Treatment

Altitude Training for Cardiac Rehab and Treatment



Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in men and women worldwide (1). Additionally, coronary artery disease and hypertension are two of the most prevalent forms of CVD. Physical inactivity is one of the main risk factors of CVD. Therefore, it is important that we improve the methods used to combat this disease. 

Hypoxic exposures, and exercise (IHT) in a simulated altitude environment (hypoxic training) can provide greater improvements in CVD symptoms and the quality of life of CVD patients. (2)

Indeed, the benefits of hypoxic exposure and exercise have been shown to result in greater improvements than sea-level exercise and/or medication alone (3,4). Exercise in hypoxia can also be done with lower overall workloads and reduced physical effort for the same or greater aerobic training effect (1,5,6). Even for patients with advanced conditions or comorbidities that limit their ability to perform exercise, passive hypoxic exposure can improve many factors of CVD and increase exercise tolerance and capacity. For example, in older people with and without CVD, passive exposure improved resting heart rate, blood pressure, stress on the cardiac muscle (reduced rate pressure product), arterial oxygen content and peak workload compared to control groups (3). 


Altitude Training For Cardiovascular Disease – Evidence-Based Benefits 


Accumulated research over the past 50 years has demonstrated hypoxic exposure and exercise is safe, and effective for patients with varying levels of CVD (1,3,4) . Also, the research has shown the mechanisms underpinning why hypoxic exposure is more effective for CVD patients.

IHT increases mitochondrial metabolism and density (1,5), stimulates endothelial Nitric Oxide production enhancing vasodilation and increases capillary density. Indeed, these mechanisms result in numerous beneficial performance and CVD outcomes.

Clinically relevant improvements for hypertensive, CVD, and chronic heart failure patients that are greater than what would be seen with sea-level exercise or traditional interventions alone. These include:

  • Lower Resting Blood Pressure (1,3,4)
  • Lower Resting & Active HR (1,3,4)
  • Reduced Rate Pressure Product (Cardiac Stress) (3)
  • Fewer Hypertensive Episodes (4)
  • Increased Aerobic Capacity (2,3,5)
  • Increased Exercise Capacity & Tolerance (2,3)
  • Improved Quality of Life (2,4)

Protocols can be either passive or active and built for varying levels of exercise tolerance. For example, passive protocols involving intermittent hypoxic breathing (IHB)* are ideal for patients suffering from CVD or other co-morbidities who cannot tolerate exercise. Active protocols are designed to allow patients to ease into exercise without compromising performance benefit. 

*IHB involves breathing very low oxygen air from a stationary position (seated) in a series of intervals interspersed with sea-level breathing.


Opportunities for Physicians and Clinics


  1. Incorporate altitude training sessions during cardiac rehab
    • Minimize deconditioning
    • Reduce inflammation
    • Regain fitness quicker
    • Slowly increase training intensity without compromising fitness
  2. Offer solutions for individuals with advanced conditions or comorbidities that limit their ability to perform exercise
    • Prevent further decline in aerobic fitness 
    • Increase aerobic capacity, building toward increasing physical activity 
    • Increase exercise tolerance building toward future exercise programs 


Speak with one of our coaches about training options for cardiovascular disease to improve health outcomes and quality of life.

Altitude Athletic is Toronto’s first and one of the largest altitude training facilities in the world. We’re here to help you prepare for your next big climb, event or meet your health goals. Click here to learn more about what we do at Altitude.

Contact Us



(1) Safety and Efficacy of Intermittent Hypoxia Conditioning as a New Rehabilitation/Secondary Prevention Strategy for Patients with Cardiovascular Diseases: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

(2) Improved Exercise Performance and Skeletal Muscle Strength After Simulated Altitude Exposure: A Novel Approach for Patients With Chronic Heart Failure

(3) Intermittent hypoxia increases exercise tolerance in elderly men with and without coronary artery disease

(4) Intermittent hypoxia training as non-pharmacologic therapy for cardiovascular diseases: Practical analysis on methods and equipment

(5) Training High- Living Low: Changes of Aerobic Performance and Muscle Structure with Training at Simulated Altitude

(6) Endurance Training in Normobaric Hypoxia Imposes Less Physical Stress for Geriatric Rehabilitation

(7) The effect of acute exercise in hypoxia on flow-mediated vasodilation

Performance Assessment for the Cycling Athlete

Performance Assessment for the Cycling Athlete

You’re busy with work, life and training. With so much going on, it’s helpful to see if your hard work is paying off. Where does your fitness stand right now? Is there a way you can do things better and train smarter?

A performance assessment is a great tool for cyclists (or in fact, any athlete) to gain valuable data to understand their baseline and to help better guide their training. Learn more about some of the data a performance assessment will tell you and why this data matters:


VO2 Max – What is It and How Can It Help Me?


In a good performance assessment, a coach will measure something called VO2 Max. Your VO2 Max can help provide insight into your current performance. Also, it can guide your training plan to ensure you continue improving and be used to track progress.

VO2 Max measures the amount of oxygen your body can take in and use during maximal exercise. This is basically your ‘upper limit’ when it comes to intense exercise. The measurement looks at the liters of oxygen you consume per minute. The number we get helps us look at the health and function of different systems.

In other words, how well you breath in, extract oxygen from the atmosphere via the lungs, how well that oxygen is loaded into the circulator system and delivered to working muscles via the heart and arteries, and finally how well the muscles extract and use that oxygen. (1)

Cycling is an aerobic sport and cyclists are highly dependent on using oxygen for energy production. Therefore, VO2 Max is a large contributing factor to how well you can perform on the bike.


Performance assessment for the cycling athlete

Functional Threshold Power, What is It and Why Should I Know It?


In addition to measuring VO2 Max, a good assessment for cyclists will also find Functional Threshold Power (FTP). FTP is the highest power output that you can hold for ~60 minutes. FTP is a good indication of your specific anaerobic threshold, meaning you will know exactly how hard you can work before anaerobic energy systems begin contributing excessively (2).

This shift is typically noticed as an intense burning sensation in the muscle, as anaerobic energy system produces metabolic by-products such as hydrogen ions leading to the burn. This will allow you to optimize your training by using percentage of FTP to create specific training zones that correlate to specific training goals, for example a work rate of 56-75% of your FTP would be an ideal training zone for developing aerobic endurance.

Our performance assessment will provide you with your HR (heart rate) at threshold, power at threshold, VO2 Max and more. You’ll gain a deeper understanding of your current level of performance, and data to optimize your training. Learn more about assessments and services at Altitude: ASSESSMENTS





Altitude Athletic is Toronto’s first and one of the largest altitude training facilities in the world. We’re here to help you prepare for your next big climb, event or meet your health goals. Click here to learn more about what we do at Altitude.

Contact Us


(1) “Measurement of VO2 Max-VO2 Peak is no longer acceptable”. David C. Poole and Andrew M. Jones. Journal of Applied Physiology (2017).

(2) “Functional Threshold Power in Cyclists: Validity of the Concept and Physiological Responses.” Borszcz, Fernando and Tramontin, Artur and Bossi, Arthur and Carminatti, Lorival and Costa, Vitor. (2018). International Journal of Sports Medicine

(3) “VO2 Primer” University of California – Davis. Health – Sports Medicine: VO2 – Rate of Oxygen Consumption

Altitude Training for Fat Loss, Muscle Mass and Body Composition

Altitude Training for Fat Loss, Muscle Mass and Body Composition

We know elite cyclists use altitude training to get a fitness boost before racing in the Tour de France. And we’ve heard that olympic runners will head to high altitude camps in places like Flagstaff or St. Moritz to get that extra lung for events at sea-level.

But what if you’re not headed to Le Portet d’Aspin (a famous Tour de France climb) or the upcoming summer Olympics? What if you’re not a professional cyclist or runner or athlete? What if you consider yourself a ‘normal person’ whose goal is to simply get stronger, maintain a healthy body fat % and feel good in your body. And do so without having to invest a huge amount of time and energy, which is already being divided amongst so many other things in your life.

We tend to diminish a goal like this, as if it’s embarrassing that we’re not headed to the Olympics and we’re ‘just exercising to look and feel good’ instead. But this is actually an extremely important goal. Maintaining the healthiest version of your body is one of the most important things you can do for yourself physically and mentally.

Just like altitude training can help elite cyclists and runners get an edge in their competitions, it can also help you increase muscle mass, lose body fat and improve overall health. Here’s how:


How can altitude training help me increase my muscle mass?

Research shows that intermittent hypoxic training can result in greater gains in muscle mass compared to similar training performed at sea-level. For example, resistance training done at altitude was shown to:

  • Increase the metabolic stimulus for muscle growth
  • Have a similar effect to BFR (Blood Flow Restriction) training, but without the discomfort and common problems associated with BFR
  • Enhance metabolic efficiency in the muscle tissue, which enhances muscular endurance

The effects are increased with a specific transition time between exercises and rest between circuits combined with appropriate volume and muscular tension. Therefore, it’s important to work with a coach who understands strength training methods at altitude. 


How can altitude training help me lose body fat?

Studies have shown differences in fat loss when doing the same exercise program at sea-level vs. altitude. It’s been found that altitude training can decrease fat mass more effectively and create a larger caloric deficit with the same amount of exercise. In one of these studies, participants saw an almost 7% reduction in fat mass by training at altitude compared to the group training at sea-level, which didn’t see any reduction. Altitude training may also play a role in healthy weight loss through influences on leptin secretion (a hormone that tells the body it has had enough to eat).


How can altitude training impact health factors: metabolism, blood pressure and cholesterol

There are also benefits that contribute to overall health and disease prevention. For example, IHT can increase your body’s capacity to use fat as fuel. If you’re struggling with a slow metabolism, this can help improve those symptoms. Also, there’s research showing that altitude can help reduce the risk of Type 2 Diabetes. And help with insulin resistance in overweight individuals. 

For those looking to improve vascular health and slow down the progress of peripheral arterial disease (PAD), it’s been shown that training at altitude can help reduce arterial stiffness and improved blood pressure, as well as improving blood lipid profile such as having a positive effect on cholesterol.

So, if you’re looking to feel better and see greater improvements in body composition, altitude training can definitely help. For the fastest route to your goals, make sure you work with a coach and get access to a well-structured program that addresses your specific needs in exercise and nutrition. Learn more about personalized programming at Altitude through our Memberships.



[1]A. Törpel, B. Peter, D. Hamacher and L. Schega, “Dose–response relationship of intermittent normobaric hypoxia to stimulate erythropoietin in the context of health promotion in young and old people”, European Journal of Applied Physiology, vol. 119, no. 5, pp. 1065-1074, 2019. Available: 10.1007/s00421-019-04096-8.

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