Case Studies: Endurance Training

Altitude training has multiple benefits for endurance athletes. Research has shown that training in hypoxia can increase performance factors more effectively and efficiently than sea-level training. Click on the research studies below to learn more about some of the research in altitude training for endurance athletes. 

CASE STUDIES

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

 

Group Studied Altitude (%) Altitude (m)
Elite Cyclists (Male) 15.2% 2500 m
  • This study investigates the efficacy of intermittent hypoxic training (IHT) on aerobic capacity and endurance performance in elite cyclists.
  • VO2 max increased significantly in the hypoxic group by +4.4% wheras the normoxic group did not see improvements
  • %VO2 at lactate threshold increased +3.5% vs. +2.0% in the normoxic group (can work at a higher intensity than the normoxic group w/o excess fatigue)
  • Hypoxic group also saw greater improvements in time trial time, average speed, average power and fatigue resistance

Click here to view the full paper

Interval Hypoxic Training Enhances Performance In Middle- and Long-Distance Runners

 

Group Studied Altitude (%) Altitude (m)
Competitive middle- and long-distance runners
14.3% 3000 m
  • Training in hypoxia increased VO2 max, running economy and recovery capacity more than the same training in sea-level conditions
  • Increased VO2 max 4x more compared to the sea-level training group
  • Greater improvements in heart rate variability (HRV) measurements.
    • HRV measurements are used to assess nervous system function, cardiac health and recovery
  • Higher exercise economy compared to sea-level training
    • Exercise economy = energy required to perform, increased exercise economy = less effort for the same performance 

Click here to view the full paper

Effects of intermittent hypoxic training performed at high hypoxia level on exercise performance in highly trained runners
Group Studied Altitude (%) Altitude (m)
Well-trained endurance athletes 11.4% – 10.6% 4877 m – 5486 m
  • French national competitive runners improved maximal aerobic running speed (the speed at which VO2 max is reached) training in hypoxia more than runners doing the same program at sea level
  • Threshold running in hypoxia can increase in maximal aerobic running speed and time to exhaustion in highly trained competitive runners 
  • Runners were able to run longer before having to stop

Click here to view the full paper

Living and Training at 825 m for 8 weeks Supplemented With Intermittent Hypoxic Training at 3000 m Improves Blood Parameters and Running Performance
Group Studied Altitude (%) Altitude (m)
University-level male soccer players 14.3% 3000 m
  •  Hypoxic training group improved 2.8k time trial performance by 5.4% vs. 1.9% in sea level group  
  • Hypoxic training group improved maximal aerobic running speed by 4% more than the sea level training group 
  • Hypoxic training group improved VO2 max by 3.2% more than sea-level group 
  • These performance improvements peaked at 14 days after hypoxic training intervention 

Click here to view the full paper

Intermittent hypoxic training for 6 weeks in 3000 m hypobaric hypoxia conditions enhances exercise economy and aerobic exercise performance in moderately trained swimmers
Group Studied Altitude (%) Altitude (m)
Moderately trained swimmers 14.3% 3000 m
  • IHT has the ability to increase glucose delivery capacity, lower blood lactate levels, enhance haemodynamic response and increase oxygen utilization capacity
  • IHT improves mitochondria density, capillary density, cross sectional area of skeletal muscle and activity of the motor unit by stimulating the nervous system
  • IHT improves aerobic performance via improved exercise economy and aerobic energy metabolic rate, as oxygen utilization capacity in skeletal muscle tissue
    • Exercise economy is correlated with exercise performance in aerobic fitness athletes

Click here to view the full paper

The Effects of High Intensity Interval Training in Normobaric Hypoxia on Aerobic Capacity in Basketball Players
Group Studied Altitude (%) Altitude (m)
Basketball Players 15.2% 2500 m
  • 3 weeks IHT with HIIT intervals is effective for improving aerobic capacity at sea-level for court sport athletes.
  • Hypoxic group increased total distance to exhaustion more than the normoxic training group
  • Max Heart Rate at VO2max was reduced for hypoxic group
  • Lactate accumulation was much lower in the hypoxic group vs. the normoxic group at maximal effort

Click here to view the full paper

Training High - Living Low: Changes of Aerobic Performance and Muscle Structure with Training at Simulated Altitude
Group Studied Altitude (%) Altitude (m)
Male, 20-42 years old (non-elite) 13% 3850 m
  • High intensity training at simulated altitude can significantly increase mitochondrial density and capillary length density – two physiological changes that improve aerobic performance
  • Training at sea-level requires significantly higher intensities for the same changes in mitochondrial density. Low-intensity training in simulated altitude improved mitochondrial density similar to high intensity sea-level training
  • Simulated altitude training at both high and low intensity improved VO2 more than either sea-level group

Click here to view the full paper

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