Back To The Basics: What is Altitude Training?

Simulated altitude training, also known as hypoxic training, is a method of training that involves exposing the body to reduced oxygen levels in order to improve physical performance.

It is commonly used by athletes to improve their endurance and capacity for oxygen uptake, as well as by those living at sea-level to acclimate to the lower levels of oxygen present at high elevations.

There are several ways to do simulated altitude training, including the use of hypoxic tents or chambers and altitude simulation masks.

Hypoxic tents and chambers are enclosures that are designed to mimic the reduced oxygen levels found at high altitudes. They work by using a system of pumps and filters to remove oxygen from the air inside the enclosure, creating a hypoxic environment.

Altitude simulation masks, also known as “altitude masks,” can also be used to mimic the effects of altitude. These masks are connected to “altitude simulators,” which use a combination of pressurized air and oxygen to simulate the reduced oxygen levels found at high altitudes.

rehab and reconditioning

By simulating the conditions of high altitudes, the body can adapt and become more efficient at using oxygen, leading to improved athletic performance and other benefits such as:

1. Improved Oxygen Uptake and Utilization

Simulated altitude training can also lead to improved oxygen uptake and utilization. When an individual trains at simulated altitudes, their body becomes more efficient at using the oxygen that is available. This can lead to improved athletic performance, as the muscles are able to work harder and longer without becoming fatigued.

2. Increased Red Blood Cell Production

Another benefit of simulated altitude training is increased red blood cell production. Red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen to the muscles, and at high altitudes, there is less oxygen available. When an individual trains at simulated altitudes, their body responds by producing more red blood cells to help transport oxygen to the muscles. This can lead to improved oxygen delivery to the muscles, resulting in improved athletic performance.

3. Enhanced Muscle Strength and Endurance


In addition to the benefits mentioned above, simulated altitude training can also lead to enhanced muscle strength and endurance. This is because the body has to work harder to get the oxygen it needs to function, leading to an increase in muscle strength and endurance.

Overall, simulated altitude training is a useful tool for athletes and individuals looking to improve their overall health, physical performance and pre-acclimate to high altitude. To learn more about altitude training and training programs, please check out our website here Altitude Athletic Training or email us at

Altitude Training for General Health and Fitness: 3 Case Studies to Read

The recent literature on Intermittent Hypoxic Training (IHT) shows benefits that go beyond high performance for athletes. Indeed, we see benefits that extend to your average gym-goer training for improved fitness, overall health and disease prevention.

Today we’ll highlight some case studies that show the impact of hypoxic training on general health and fitness populations. The results are also helpful in comparing the outcomes of training at altitude vs. sea-level.

Altitude Training Benefits: Case Studies

1. Effects of systemic hypoxia on human muscular adaptations to resistance exercise training

Oxygen Level (%): 14.4%

Equivalent Elevation (m): 3000 m

Methods: Subjects performed resistance training 2x/week for 8 weeks

Results: IHT resistance training improved cross sectional area of muscles (muscle size), strength and muscular endurance and increased formation of capillaries (improved blood flow) to muscles. In comparison to sea-level training, a greater effect was seen specifically on muscular endurance and capillary density.


  • Hypoxic training improved muscular endurance more than the same training sea-level
  • Hypoxic training increased capillary density more than sea-level training
  • Capillary density is important for delivery of blood and oxygen and removal of waste by-products from working tissues.

Read the full paper →

2. Effects of strength training under hypoxic conditions on muscle performance, body composition and haematological variables

Oxygen Level (%): 13.0%

Equivalent Elevation (m): 4000 m

Methods: Participants trained 3 days per week for 7 weeks (3 sets x 65−80% 1RM to failure).

Results: Both groups improved their strength performance and muscle perimeters, but the hypoxia group obtained a greater increase in muscle mass (hypoxia: +1.80% vs. normoxia: +0.38%; p<0.05) and decrease in fat mass (hypoxia: -6.83% vs. normoxia: +1.26%; p<0.05) compared to the normoxia group. Additionally, haematocrit values were also higher for the hypoxia group after the detraining period (hypoxia: +2.20% vs. normoxia: -2.22%; p<0.05).


  • Hypoxic group had greater gains in muscle mass and greater decreases in fat mass.
  • For individuals seeking improved health and body composition, hypoxic training can increase muscle mass and decrease fat mass more effectively than normoxic training

Read the full paper →


altitude training benefits for general fitness


3. 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

Oxygen Level (%): 16.5% & 14.5%

Equivalent Elevation (m): 2000 m & 3000 m


Subjects: Women, 30-55 years old, BMI > 30 and BF% > 30

Participants were divided into three groups: Sea-level (normoxic), 16.5% O2 (2000 m) moderate altitude, 14.5% O2 (3000 m) high altitude

Participants performed 30 minutes on the treadmill followed by 30 minutes on the bike, 5 times per week for 6 weeks

Results: Both hypoxic groups saw a larger reduction rate of fat mass and % body fat vs. the normoxic group. The 14.5% O2 group saw the most significant decrease in body weight.

Systolic blood pressure significantly improved in both hypoxic groups. Diastolic blood pressure improved in all groups, but more so in both hypoxic groups.

All groups had improvements in LDL (low-density lipoprotein, sometimes called “bad” cholesterol because it collects in the walls of your blood vessels, raising your chances of health problems). Hypoxic training groups improved more than the normoxic group.

Both hypoxic groups showed greater improvements in arterial stiffness compared to the normoxic group.


  • Greater improvements in heart rate, blood pressure, cholesterol arterial stiffness and weight loss with hypoxic training compared to normoxic training
  • Both hypoxic groups saw a larger reduction rate of fat mass and % body fat vs. the normoxic group
  • Greater health benefits can be achieved with a lower exercise intensity at simulated altitude compared to sea-level training in overweight individuals

Read the full paper

Alongside performance benefits, simulated altitude training has benefits that contribute to overall health and fitness. So if you’re trying to find the most efficient way to feel good and optimize your time in the gym, let us know and we’ll help you get there with a combination of altitude training and personalized fitness programming.

Speak with one of our coaches about training options for your specific goals.

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. Learn more about what we do here at Altitude: About Us

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Altitude for Rehab and Re-conditioning

Why altitude training will help your clients get better results during rehab?

Most of us expect to lose some level of conditioning when we get injured. But that doesn’t have to be the case.

Altitude training for sports rehab can be used to create a stimulus that maximizes aerobic output, while reducing training intensity and load on recovering tissue.

Therefore, sessions at simulated altitude (i.e a walk on the treadmill in a simulated altitude chamber or a spin on the bike with an altitude mask) can be done at lower intensities with greater benefit and help recovering clients maintain cardiovascular fitness while injured.

The goal is to mitigate the de-conditioning effect and accelerate the re-conditioning process, providing maximum aerobic adaptations during recovery.

Injuries are never easy, but with intelligent program design and training, clients can get back to full fitness faster and stronger than before.

Minimize De-conditioning, Maximize Re-conditioning

Altitude Athletic can facilitate the return-to-fitness process using specific altitude protocols designed to maintain cardiovascular fitness during injury.

Protocols can be either passive (Intermittent Hypoxic Breathing*) or active and built for varying levels of exercise tolerance.

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

altitude training for sports rehab

Altitude Training for Sports Rehab: Training Recommendations

  • “My client is recovering from an injury and can still exercise.”

If you have a client who can still train actively, use an active intermittent hypoxic training protocol.

For instance, a protocol that has been used for this scenario is 30 minutes of continuous aerobic exercise as close to 75% of max heart rate as possible at 14.5% O2. The goal is to ease the client into a reconditioning program that still elicits a greater performance adaptation. Therefore, reconditioning is more effective and faster than it would have been at sea level.

  • “My client is recovering from an injury and cannot tolerate exercise.”

If your client is struggles to exercise – for example an elderly individual or someone with cardiovascular disease – use a passive breathing protocol. These protocols are based on a tolerance test, for example: 4-6 rounds, 3-5 minutes ON 3-5 minutes OFF at 14.5%-10% O2.

With severely de-conditioned individuals, passive exposures can increase fitness level, aerobic capacity, exercise tolerance, performance and quality of life. Passive exposures can also offset some level of de-conditioning.

Opportunities for Physios and Clinics

By building altitude training into your client’s rehabilitation, you now have a solution to minimize unnecessary de-conditioning and maximize re-coniditioning at the acute and post-injury stages. The result is happier clients, better results achieved faster and greater success for your practice.

You’ve also opened the door to populations with low-exercise tolerance who previously had few solutions for re-conditioning. Intermittent Hypoxic Breathing is game-changing for their health and quality of life. The opportunities provided from this new market will offer a huge boost to your business.


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

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

(3) The effects of intermittent hypoxic training on aerobic capacity and endurance performance in cyclists

(4) 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

(5) Effects of systemic hypoxia on human muscular adaptations to resistance exercise training

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

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

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

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. 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!

Training for Strength – The Power of the Sprint

Whether you’re looking to build endurance, improve your running economy, or build strength and power, including high-intensity sprint-based workouts is one of the best tools to integrate into your training arsenal.


There are many different types of workouts for endurance athletes. But today we’re going to focus on the benefits of high-intensity training, particularly sprint-style.


Sprint-interval workouts (SITs) offer three main benefits:


  • Improved time to exhaustion (aka, improved endurance)
  • Increased maximal running speed
  • Improved time trial speed (aka, improved running economy/speed)


“Low and slow” training has garnered a significant amount of attention in recent years as many endurance athletes have touted its benefits. Low-intensity, high-volume training can indeed be an effective way to train, but for athletes who are looking to improve on specific aspects of their performance or who feel they have “plateaued”, introducing SIT training can help to break through these performance ceilings.


Sprint Training: What and How?


There are many different approaches to introducing sprints into your routine. In fact, research has shown that completing 3 workouts per week for even just two weeks will result in improved performance. In this case, the workouts consisted of 4-7 rounds of 30 second “all out” sprints with 4 minutes of rest in-between. However, it has also been found throughout the duration of a full training program, no more than 20% of total training volume should be made up of high-intensity work. This may increase propensity of injury as well as create levels of bodily stress that are too difficult to recover from when total mileage is very high. As with all good endurance training plans, finding the right balance between volume and intensity is highly individualized.


In general, we recommend that beginner athletes (those who have been running or cycling for less than 1 year) start with a higher-intensity workout once per week. More seasoned athletes can do two, while being careful to plan other hard workouts far enough away from hard efforts to allow the body to recover. For example:


Sunday: Long Run

Monday: Off/Easy Cross Train

Tuesday: High Intensity (Tempo or Interval)

Wednesday: Recovery Run

Thursday: Off/Easy Cross Train

Friday: High Intensity (Tempo or Interval)

Saturday: Recovery Run


Remember that within any given run, there are loads of options and variability. For example, a tempo run may consist of all-out 30-second efforts like in the research. Or it may consist of something like 4 minute intervals at 70% of maximal effort. Changing things up is key!

Cons of SIT Training


From an injury standpoint, full-blown, 100% effort workouts should be used sparingly as they are quite challenging on the body. The amount of load associated with using muscles to their maximum capacity is quite a bit higher than just going for an average run. If the body isn’t used to this, tendons and muscles may rebel – resulting in muscle strains.


The other consideration for many people is that true sprint work is…hard work. To truly expend 90%+ of our maximal effort requires a high level of self-discipline and tolerance to discomfort. Of course, for those aiming to push the limits, this is part of the process. However, that doesn’t necessarily make it more fun. Here’s where you have to use some psychological tricks. Music and group classes are two great ways to turn a hard workout into a social competition.


Pros of SIT Training


As we mentioned, the performance gains from SIT training can be substantial. Another part of this equation is the improvement in mental toughness. In any race, long or short, comes a moment of self-doubt or inner critic that tells you that this does not feel good and to stop, now! The gifted athlete will recognize this feeling. They’ll learn to recognize it as a normal part of competition, even a good part of competition, and learn how to override it.

However, this can take practice. You are less likely to experience true, full fatigue with a slower workout. But when muscles are burning and the lungs and heart are pumping hard, it can require all you’ve got to not pull over to the side and stop. Experiencing this again and again, and also in the company of others can train you for what’s inevitably going to happen during race day so that you’re prepared to face discomfort head on.

Other Ways to Boost Speed and Power


One of the basic principles of training is the “Specificity” principle. Essentially, training specificity states that in order to achieve the greatest gains in our ability to perform a chosen task, the majority of our training must be spent performing that task or tasks that are extremely similar to it. Basically, what you practice is what you do. Going for a long walk won’t really help you with marathon training. Hours on an elliptical won’t improve your 100m sprint time. So, if you really do want to work on speed and power as a cyclist, you’ve really got to spend some time in the saddle.


However, there are other ways to help improve the body’s strength and conditioning. Primarily through specific strengthening exercises to targeted specific muscle groups. Exercises like squats, deadlifts, and lunges completed at high weight/low reps can improve the number and size of muscle fibres. This can assist you in being able to move faster and stronger. Note that specificity still applies here – someone engaged in cycling is best to focus on quadriceps and glute musculature while runners are wise to focus on the “springy” muscles like calves.


Finally, for runners in particular, another way to improve form, strength, and endurance is to add hill reps into your training program. Going up hills, focus on explosive power from your glutes, and high knees lifting through the hips. On the down, focus on trying to keep your feet underneath you and letting gravity do the work. Begin with 5 reps of 30 second uphill sprints, walking down. You can increase this number week to week and go as high as 10.


Remember – it never gets easier, you just get faster! And that’s the goal with sprint training!


About the Author

Lauren Roberts is a Registered Physiotherapist and Founder of The Running Physio in Toronto. For more information on her team, the clinic, and for more running and endurance sport blogs, visit



Jerome Koral, D. J. (2018). Six Sessions of Sprint Interval Training Improves Running Performance in Trained Athletes. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 617-623.

Seiler, S. (2019). What is Best Practice for Training Intensity and Duration Distribution in Endurance Athletes? Human Kinetics Journals, 276-291.

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.