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. Resistance training done at altitude was shown to:

  • Increase the metabolic stimulus that signals 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 maximized with a specific transition time between exercises and rest between circuits combined with appropriate volume and muscular tension, so it’s important to work with a coach who is familiar with strength training protocols in hypoxic environments.

 

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 in a hypoxic environment compared to the group training at sea-level, which didn’t see any reduction. Intermittent Hypoxic Training (IHT) 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 instance, IHT can increase your body’s capacity to use fat as fuel. If you’re struggling with a slow metabolic or have metabolic syndrome (slow metabolism), this can help improve those symptoms. The effects of altitude on the metabolism has also shown promise in potentially reducing the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes and 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 in a hypoxic environment 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 more efficiently, altitude training can definitely help. For the fastest route to your goals, ensure 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.

 

References:

[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.

[2]I. Guardado, B. Ureña, A. Cardenosa, M. Cardenosa, G. Camacho and R. Andrada, “Effects of strength training under hypoxic conditions on muscle performance, body composition and haematological variables”, Biology of Sport, vol. 37, no. 2, pp. 121-129, 2020. Available: 10.5114/biolsport.2020.93037.

[3]B. Yan, X. Lai, L. Yi, Y. Wang and Y. Hu, “Effects of Five-Week Resistance Training in Hypoxia on Hormones and Muscle Strength”, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, vol. 30, no. 1, pp. 184-193, 2016. Available: 10.1519/jsc.0000000000001056.

[4]B. Feriche, A. García-Ramos, A. Morales-Artacho and P. Padial, “Resistance Training Using Different Hypoxic Training Strategies: a Basis for Hypertrophy and Muscle Power Development”, Sports Medicine – Open, vol. 3, no. 1, 2017. Available: 10.1186/s40798-017-0078-z.

[5]R. Timon, I. Martínez-Guardado, A. Camacho-Cardeñosa, J. Villa-Andrada, G. Olcina and M. Camacho-Cardeñosa, “Effect of intermittent hypoxic conditioning on inflammatory biomarkers in older adults”, Experimental Gerontology, vol. 152, p. 111478, 2021. Available: 10.1016/j.exger.2021.111478.

[6] Park, Hun-Young & Lim, Kiwon. (2017). The Effects of Aerobic Exercise at Hypoxic Condition during 6 Weeks on Body Composition, Blood Pressure, Arterial Stiffness, and Blood Lipid Level in Obese Women. International Journal of Sports Science. 1. 1-5.

Swimming For Change with Robert McGlashan

Swimming For Change with Robert McGlashan

This month, Altitude member Robert McGlashan will complete the third of three impressive open water swims as part of an open water marathon, Swim for Change, to raise $300,000 for 3 Canadian charities! Rob swam Lake Erie and Lake Ontario this summer, and in just a couple of weeks he will be headed to California to be the first Canadian to swim around Angel Island.

Who is Robert McGlashan?

Robert a Toronto-based lawyer and partner at Blakeney Henneberry Murphy and Galligan. He is on the board of an environmental organization dedicated to cleaning up and protecting the Great Lakes: Great Lakes Open Water. Robert is also an elite open water swimmer, who has swam the across the highest navigable lake in the world called Lake Titicaca (Bolivia) at 3,812 m (12,507 ft), the Straits of Magellan (Chile), Bonifacio Channel (Italy), the Alcatraz Island (USA), the Bay of Naples from Capri to Naples (Italy) and swam over 25 hours across Lake Geneva from Switzerland to France. He was nominated for the 2019 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year award.

Robert McGlashan

 

Swimming Angel Island 

Angel Island is located in San Francisco Bay. Visitors to the island enjoy spectacular views of the San Fransisco skyline, the Marin County Headlands and Mount Tamalpais. It is also famous for being start of big open water events, including: the Night Train Mile and the annual RCP Tiburon Mile, one of the World’s Top 100 Island Swims.

The round-trip swim around Angel Island is a 10-mile (16.1-kilometer) loop in San Fransisco Bay. Swimmers start from Aquatic Park Cove and swim out and around the island. They then head back to Aquatic Park. The swim is cross-current and known as being challenging with rough waters. Swimmers cross two big
shipping routes twice. The first and fastest person to swim Angel Island was Dave Kenyon in 1984.

Angel Island Swim

Credit: Marathon Swimmers Federation

 

Robert’s Altitude Training Preparation

Robert is aiming to not only be the first Canadian to swim Angel Island, but also the fastest person ever. Altitude Coach Josh Downer developed a specific program that has Rob combining paced training swims with strength/interval training at Altitude Athletic. Rob trains at Altitude Athletic 3 times a week and performs power circuits with exercises including back squats, band-assisted squat jumps and Versa Climber intervals. At Altitude, Josh monitors Rob’s heart rate throughout the sessions to ensure he is meeting specific heart rate targets that optimize the altitude training effect. Josh has also set certain paces for Rob’s training swims – which he does 5 times a week – to ensure he is prepared to up his speed on the big day.

Rob has seen a difference in training at Altitude, he states, “The benefits of altitude training for me have been improved strength and endurance as well as increased rate of recovery.”

Swimming Angel Island for the Mountain Gorilla Conservation Society of Canada

The Mountain Gorilla Conservation Society of Canada is a volunteer-based charitable organization whose members are passionate and dedicated to helping save the worlds wild gorillas The organization helps to secure the future of wild gorillas by increasing the number of wildlife veterinarians in the field. They work to monitor and provide the highest level of veterinary care to mountain and lowland gorillas suffering from life-threatening illness and injury, and address environmental issues that affect the poor, low income and underserved communities through resource management, environment and conservation studies, resilience planning and preparedness.

On October 26, 2021, Robert McGlashan will swim the cold swim around Angel Island to raise $100,000 for the Gorillas. This is one of three charities he will be swimming for in an attempt to raise $300,000 for 3 Canadian charities.

Help Robert get to his goal of raising $300,000 by donating to the Mountain Gorilla Conservation Society of Canada: DONATE NOW 

The team at Altitude is incredibly proud and inspired by Rob embarking on this amazing open water marathon and raising money for incredible organizations.

Running a half marathon (in lockdown!)

Running a half marathon (in lockdown!)

Over the past year, lockdown has made it very tough to keep up a fitness routine that not only keeps you strong and healthy but is also challenging, fulfilling and fun. As someone whose fitness routine revolved mostly around tough conditioning sessions in the gym, kickboxing, bouldering and the occasional indoor spinning class, I was certainly thrown through a loop in March 2020 when these activities were essentially no longer available to me!

 

Post-run high!

An early saver for me personally was a half-marathon that I had signed up for a few months previously (before lockdown). My boyfriend and I had signed up to run the Wimbledon Half Marathon that May. It would be my first ever proper running race while he had run a full marathon the previous year in Edinburgh. I was very excited, but also quite nervous about training for a long distance event. The training I was used to was based more on short, intense bursts of power like those used in Muay Thai or plyometrics, as opposed to longer, sustained cardiovascular training that required more endurance. In fact, I think the longest I had run up till then was about 10 km! However, I was certainly up for the challenge and we began planning a full 6-week training plan leading up to the half-marathon. I spent a lot of time considering how I would balance half marathon training with my already jam-packed, gym-based fitness routine. 

 

Unfortunately, 2020 had very different plans and not only was it looking like the half marathon would likely be cancelled, but we ended up in separate countries as I spent early lockdown back home in Ontario and he remained with his family in the UK. We decided for the sake of it to just follow the training plan anyway, in case by some chance we might still be able to meet again in May and run the race. Those training runs which started short (2-5 km) and then ramped up (10+ km) became such key parts of my early lockdown. It was a chance to get outdoors and most importantly, it was an opportunity for some consistency in a time that was otherwise incredibly unpredictable and uncertain! I tried to go into it with no expectations and I enjoyed feeling stronger with each run and more able to handle the longer distances. I loved listening to music during the runs, exploring my neighbourhood and feeling a tiny bit like I was achieving something together with my boyfriend even though he was so far away and I wasn’t sure when I’d see him again.

 

Eventually, May rolled around and we were both still very much in separate countries and the race was now very much cancelled. However, we were both well trained at this point and decided to just run the half marathon anyway. And so we picked a day to do it and set off simultaneously – me in the morning in (a very sunny!) Oakville and him in the afternoon in (a very windy!) Essex, 5 hours difference between us. We actually called each other a few times during the race to check in and my sister even joined (with no training at all – she’s quite the runner!). I ended up running the race in just under 2 hours with a time of 1:53:20 and an average pace of 5:22 min/km – not bad for someone who’s more into sprints and burpees!

 

I tried some of Endurance Tap’s maple-based energy gels during the run for a boost!

Map My Run

The race through Oakville, tracked on Map My Run!

The half-marathon was a highlight for me in a year that was tough both on the fitness side of things and just in general. One thing I’d say I learnt from it was the benefit of setting yourself challenging but achievable goals and trying to achieve something new. Even though we didn’t get a chance to experience that revved up ‘atmosphere’ so typical of race events, it was almost more special to me in that it was such a personal experience that I got to share with someone I was separated from and that we managed to stick to it in such a bizarre and difficult time. 

 

If you’re away from someone you love right now and want to try and achieve something fitness related (or anything really – doesn’t have to be fitness based!) a race that you both train for together is a good option!

About the Author

 

 

Jessica is based out of London, UK and consults early stage businesses on how to raise investment for their companies. She is an avid fitness enthusiast and loves kickboxing, plyometrics, weight training and calisthenics.

Training For Your First Triathlon: 5 Tips For Success

Training For Your First Triathlon: 5 Tips For Success

Training for your first triathlon can be an intimidating experience. From seemingly endless amounts of gear to scarily fast transitions, there can be a lot to wrap your head around leading up to the day. Here are some tips and tricks that will help you feel ready when it’s time to race.

Tip 1: KNOW THE COURSE:

Register for a race close to home, so that you can visit the course before your race to check it out. Take note of the current and terrain; have a sense of how hilly the bike and run will be. Have a sense of what the weather will be like around race day so that you can properly prepare for the appropriate conditions. Prepare at least 12 weeks before your race to give yourself ample time to get ready both mentally and physically. Try practicing specific course sections you may find tricky; this could be a sharp U-turn on the bike, an uphill climb you are nervous about, or running through a transition zone so you don’t get lost or forget something. After all, transition time counts too and while we’ve all ran with that bike helmet on, it may be easier without!

Tip 2: KNOW YOUR GEAR:

You may feel pressured to have a lot of equipment from your online research or local triathlon group. The most important thing is to be comfortable and able to work with the equipment you have. Run through your gear the night before race day to avoid forgetting anything essential! Here are a few things you do need: Shoes: Do NOT break in new shoes the day of the race. We often recommend getting running shoes that fit to your gait & tread pattern but go with what you’ve trained in and are most comfortable with. If you have cycling shoes and clipless pedals, be sure to be comfortable with clipping in and out. Race Kit: You don’t NEED a tri suit for your first race, especially if it is a short course. Swimming in a swimsuit and quickly throwing on shorts and a t-shirt for the other two disciplines will work; I’ve done it and have even thrown on a hoodie for a rather windy bike ride. If you’re lucky enough to have a tri suit for your first race, do a training session or two with it before race day to avoid any surprises. All of these options including your wetsuit (if the race calls for one) can be sleeved or sleeveless. Don’t forget an extra layer if the forecast looks a bit cold. Wetsuit: To prevent chaffing and to help with removing your wetsuit in the transition zone use petroleum jelly or Vaseline around key connection points like the neck, ankles, and wrists!

Bike: While there is technical assistance on each race, you should feel comfortable with basic maintenance (eg. fixing a flat). Bring a spare tube and CO2 or a small pump in the trusty bike bag. Be comfortable on the bike you are riding, and double check that the gears shift well the night before your race. Give it a test run if you are renting a road bike for your first race. Pump up your tires the morning of to avoid the awful, sluggish ride I endured on my first triathlon. Don’t forget your helmet, sunglasses, and a water bottle!

Looking for some great athletic wear? Check out Alba Athletic. Their gear is designed in Canada and sustainably made to order. (www.albaathletic.com and https://www.instagram.com/albaathletic/)

Tip 3: KNOW YOURSELF:

Your first triathlon is not a race to win: Triathlons are a test of mental endurance. Don’t forget this as you start training for your first triathlon. There are two common issues: struggling with a section too often or exhaustion from trying to keep up with someone else. A 5x Iron man once said: “Understand if the swim if your hardest leg; it is also the shortest a mere 20-40min of the +3hrs often spent on a course. The bike is your time sitting, eating, drinking and drying off before you set out on a nice scenic run. Some people will beat you in the water but understand they won’t be as comfortable in their splits on land.” For training: BRICK workouts! Try riding your bike the length of the course, and then immediately going for a run. Time yourself and your split times of each kilometer to understand how you feel & where you can improve on your own time. You will encounter a jelly leg feeling and it’s better to encounter this in training than on race day.   triathlon training

TIP 4: START SHORT

While IRONMANs seem exciting to watch and read about, they are extremely taxing on the mind, body, and wallet. Starting with a sprint triathlon allows you to get the jist of a (potentially chaotic) open water swim start, learn how to navigate transition zones, while being able to make some forgiving mistakes. Avoid a race long enough that requires you to worry about fuel (besides a bottle of water on the bike) during your triathlon, as that is a whole other discipline in itself.

TIP 5: LEARN FROM OTHER ATHLETES

Finding a group to train with can boost confidence (and speed). A seasoned athlete can easily tell you what to look out for, and can give simple but important tips on your posture/form to help you be a little more aerodynamic. Plus, it’s always nice to have someone there for you on those bad weather training days to keep you motivated!

 

Author: Carina Chung

PNOE Metabolic Testing – Eliminate the Guesswork

PNOE Metabolic Testing – Eliminate the Guesswork

Altitude uses PNOE Metabolic Testing to provide a complete picture of your cardiovascular and metabolic function. The accuracy of the test results allows Altitude coaches to determine precise health and fitness metrics like VO2 Max and Resting Metabolic Rate. These metrics serve as a foundation for coaches to create workout and nutrition plans that can help you achieve your goals.

Find out how PNOE compares to your Apple Watch when it comes to measuring caloric expenditure:

  1. What is Metabolic Testing?

Metabolic tests measure the rate at which your body burns calories and uses oxygen during rest or during different activities. Some of the data from these tests includes:

  • Resting Metabolic Rate – the number of calories your body burns at rest.
  • Metabolic Efficiency – the number of calories your body burns during exercise.
  • VO2 Max – the max amount of oxygen your body can use during exercise.

2. Why do I care about Metabolic Testing?

Understanding these values helps guide specific and individualized nutrition recommendations to help you fuel your body for training and peak performance, as well as for reaching your health and body composition goals.

3.    Who will benefit from PNOE Metabolic Testing?

  • Endurance Athletes (Runners, Cyclists, Triathletes, etc.)
  • Power-based Athletes (Basketball, Crossfit, etc.)
  • Hikers, Climbers and Mountaineers
  • General Health and Fitness (Weight loss, aerobic training, etc.)

4.   What do the pros think?

 

 

Interested in learning more? Send us an email at info@altitudeathletictraining.com.

View our other A La Carte Assessments here. 

Book your PNOE VO2 Max test at Altitude:

Pico da Ibituruna – An Adventure Spot in Brazil You Should Check Out

Pico da Ibituruna – An Adventure Spot in Brazil You Should Check Out

Outdoor sports and adventure travel fans all know about the popular go-to destinations. Mountain biking? Head to the Alps. Trekking? Try New Zealand or the Inca Trail in Peru. Rock Climbing? The national parks of the US never let us down.

One place you may not have heard of for adventure sports is in the mountainous state of Minas Gerais in southeastern Brazil. Pico da Ibituruna is a national park and mountain that can be found on the banks of the Doce River and hovers over the city of Governador Valadares.

The adventure sport options you’ll find there are numerous – from hiking and mountain biking, to climbing, abseiling and gliding. And the stunning green landscape is a great backdrop as you get your adrenaline rush.

To get to the beautiful views though, you need to first overcome the 17 km climb. And with a summit rising 1123 meters above sea level, the climb up Pico da Ibituruna – Pico – is a reasonably challenging one. Let’s look at what makes that climb worth-it:

1) Free Flight:

Pico da Ibituruna is one of the best places to practice free flight. Thousands of enthusiasts come here from all over the world, dotting the sky with the colours of hang gliders and paragliders. The site has a free-access flight ramp, but does not offer instructors or equipment. So, if you are going to Pico with the intention of flying, you need to go with your own equipment, with an instructor or look for companies that offer this service in Governador Valadares.

2) Hiking:

Apart from the climb up to the summit, which is a couple hours’ hike along a marked trail, you can also get your hiking fix at Vale Silvestre. This is an ecological park found on the return from Pico that offers trails for all-levels. There’s even activities such as kayaking available there if you want to keep your heart rate up and try something a little bit different!

3) Climbing and Abseiling:

Pico also offers some of the best climbing and abseiling in Brazil. The best known trails are Via do Ralf and Via do Catão, both about 400 meters high. To get down, the most popular trails are Rapel da Santa and Rapel do Mirante.

4) Zipline:

Looking for another way down the mountain? Try ziplining. This options offers quite the adrenaline rush and one one of the most incredible ways to enjoy the landscape, second only to free flight.

5) Mountain Biking:

You can also boost your adrenaline (and your quad muscles) on the numerous mountain bike trails. The mountain descent from Pico da Ibituruna is one of the most challenging in Brazil, so remember to be very careful!

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