altitude training for the busy professional

With many of us back to the office – we can no longer be as generous with our lunchtime workouts. If you can squeeze a lunchtime workout in, often it’s less than an hour — which isn’t much if you factor in transit time to the gym and showering after the workout. So, how do you get the most out of your workout in the shortest amount of time and see faster results? Training at altitude presents an ideal solution to this dilemma.

It's What's in the Air That's Different

Efficiency is one of the greatest assets of altitude. Training in an environment with less available oxygen triggers physiological adaptations (changes in the body) that can lead to fitness and performance benefits. And due to the unique demands altitude puts on the body, results can be seen in less time than the same workout at sea-level. Adaptations include: 

  • Increased Mitochondrial Density: Hypoxic conditions stimulate the production and density of mitochondria within muscle cells. Mitochondria are responsible for aerobic energy production. With more mitochondria, muscles can generate energy more efficiently, leading to improved endurance and performance. This efficiency means athletes can achieve the same or greater physical output with less effort and in less time compared to training at sea level.

  • Enhanced Capillary Density: Exposure to hypoxic environments promotes the growth of new capillaries that deliver oxygen-rich blood to muscles. This increase in capillary density enhances oxygen delivery and nutrient exchange, improving muscle endurance and recovery. As a result, athletes can sustain higher-intensity efforts for longer periods without experiencing as much fatigue, ultimately making their workouts more productive in less time.
  • Improved Muscle Buffering Capacity: Muscles adapt to hypoxic stress by improving their ability to buffer and remove metabolic byproducts like lactate. This adaptation delays the onset of muscle fatigue during intense exercise, allowing athletes to maintain higher workloads and intensity levels throughout their training sessions. By reducing the recovery time needed between sets or intervals, athletes can complete more effective workouts in a shorter total time.
  • Enhanced Oxygen Extraction and Utilization: The body becomes more efficient at extracting oxygen from the bloodstream and using it within muscle cells. This efficiency improvement supports higher aerobic capacity and optimizes energy production during exercise. Athletes experience improved stamina and can perform more work per unit of oxygen consumed, maximizing the effectiveness of each training session.
  • Increased Respiratory Efficiency: Training in hypoxic conditions strengthens respiratory muscles and enhances lung function. This improvement in respiratory efficiency allows athletes to breathe more effectively during exercise, taking in more oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide more efficiently. As a result, athletes can sustain higher-intensity efforts for longer periods without becoming as breathless, ultimately improving overall workout efficiency.

You will be working harder at altitude. For instance, your heart rate will be elevated and your cardiovascular, pulmonary and oxygen utilization systems will be working harder to meet the energy demand required with less oxygen available.

Higher Efficiency, Lower Impact

Despite being harder in some aspects, people are often surprised to learn that altitude training is much easier on the joints. You can work at a lower impact with less wear and tear on the body, and get the same if not better benefits than sea-level training in less time.

While commonly praised for its physiological benefits among professional athletes, an adaptive approach to exercising at altitude can enhance anyone’s overall fitness. Efficient in burning more calories during a given amount of time than at sea level, the time-crunched gym-goer can get a great workout completed in as little as 30 minutes — a reasonable amount of time to squeeze in to busy days.

Simulated Altitude Training

This all sounds great – but this whole time you may have been wondering how on earth you are going to get up to altitude if you live in a sea-level city, like Toronto. That’s where simulated altitude training comes in.

Altitude training is exercising in, sleeping in, or simply inhaling the oxygen-reduced air that you find at high altitudes. Simulated altitude gyms are one of the best methods for replicating high altitude conditions at sea-level. Picture a gym that is fully-equipped with treadmills, bikes, squat racks and dumbbells but encased in a high-altitude chamber.

personal training, science and analysis

It's All in The Science

The latest research on simulated altitude training shows greater improvements in body composition, overall fitness and health factors for the same amount of training at sea-level. In one study, participants saw a greater increase in muscle mass with 7 weeks of altitude training compared to participants doing the equivalent sea-level training. The altitude group saw an increase in muscle mass of 1.80% compared to the sea-level group, which saw an increase of just 0.38%. Also, the altitude group saw a significant decrease in fat mass of 6.83% compared to the sea level group, which actually increased their fat mass by 1.26%.  To read the full study, click here.

By leveraging these physiological adaptations through hypoxic training, busy professionals can achieve greater fitness gains and performance improvements in less total workout time. The combination of enhanced energy production, improved endurance, and reduced fatigue translates into more effective training sessions that yield measurable results sooner than traditional sea-level training methods.

It’s time to see faster results. For more info on training at Altitude, check out our memberships and follow us on Instagram and Facebook.