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Altitude training is a recognized sports scientific method to increase performance in athletes, although many different protocols exists and there are many opinions about their effect.
Physioinnovation believes in some of the protocols in altitude training and we have tried to give you a digest of some of the studies regarding the altitude training in this blog… At AlpCamps Sports Institute we live in altitude and use the altitude training as a tool to increase performance, loosing weight, adapt to high amounts of metabolic waste products during anaerobic performance. Here is some of the evidence behind hypoxic training…
Although some studies have had a hard time finding the benefits of intermittent hypoxic training there are several studies that has found positive results, more recently by Faiss et al., (2013). The Swiss based research team tested the effect of hypoxic training on sprint ability and found a positive correlation in performance of the group that performed sprints in altitude compared to sealevel group and control group.
Interval training has been one of the most important factors in order to increase endurance performance, peripherally muscle buffer capacity increases, imagining your capillary system as one big spindle net, which increases in size and small branches when training with I.e. Interval training. Central factors such as heart size and ability to pump an increased amount of blood in the body are obviously also increased by interval training, these are just basic facts and benefits of physical training (Michalsik and Bangsbo, 2005).
So how could you amplify this effect by training in hypoxic conditions?
Since late 90’s there has been a lot of attention into hypoxic training/ altitude training with the study by Levine and Gundersen (1997), whom showed an increase in haemaglobin levels (10%) and 5000m running time (5%) in the group living high and training low compared to a control group and a group both living and training high (∼2800m).
However, this method is quite time consuming, since you’ll have to stay high for a minimum of 18days (Pialoux et al, 2009) in order to get any change in blood parameters and hereby performance, although best results has been obtained from at least a 24days stay in altitude until date (Levine and Gundersen, 1997).
Intermittent hypoxic training, has gained far more attention recent years because of its less time consuming efficacy. Although it’s efficiency upon elite endurance athletes yet has to prove effective to a major degree, there has been in particular one study by Dufour et al. (2006), whom showed an increase in endurance for competitive distance runners. The results were promising from the method used in this study, a +5% increase in Vo2max and +35% time to exhaustion only in the group undergoing altitude training at ∼3000m (Dufour et al, 2006).
Training in hypoxic condition or altitude cannot change blood values, since the amount of exposure in altitude like the study by Dufour et al. (2006) is not enough to change actual haemaglobin etc as seen in the recent study by the Swiss research tem (Faiss et al., 2013). However, in this type of training the peripheral factors increasing the buffer capacity in the muscles (the spindle net as mentioned above) is believed to change (Faiss et al. 2013, Dufour et al, 2006; Vogt et al, 2003) Hereby creating a better circulation and exchange in the blood/muscle barrier. Faiss et al, (2013) also discussed the possibility that fast twitch muscles had a better effect of the training in high altitude, since there could be a more dramatical shift in the ability of these fibers to get rid of metabolic waste products.
One of the reasons why there is such a change in buffer capacity (capillarity) while training in altitude is the stimulant of the so called master gene HIF-1 or hypoxic inducible factor 1, which starts the process of human adaptation to altitude (increased capillarity, mitochondrial content, glycolytic enzymes I.e.) (Vogt et al, 2001). These effects from the transcription of the Mrna gene was also seen in the hypoxic training group in the study by Faiss et al, (2013).
Although there is not fully consensus about this master gene HIF-1 (Lundby et al, 2009) it is mentioned as one of the leading factors to human adaptation in altitude (Pialoux et al. 2009) and hereby also increase in endurance performance at least in altitude (Dufour et al. 2009) and possibly also the increased performance of sprint ability at sealevel (Faiss et al, 2013).
At AlpCamps Sports Institute we daily live and exercise in Hypoxic conditions, ranging from altitudes at 400 - 3000 meters. We use a broad variety of methods, ranging from intermittent hypoxic training, train high live low, live high train low.
By Bjørn Toft @ Physioinnovation
Faiss, R., et al. (2013) Significant molecular and systemic adaptations after repeated sprint training in hypoxia, www.plosone.org
Bangsbo, J, Michalsik, L (2005), Aerob og anaerob træning, Danmarks idræts forbund, 1 udgave, 2 oplag, p.123-127
Lundby, C, Calbet, J.A., Robach, P (2009) The response of human skeletal muscle tissue to hypoxia, Cell mol Life Sci, sep.10
Levine, B.D, Gundersen, J.S (1997), ‘‘Living high-training low’’: effect of moderate-altitude acclimatization with low-altitude training on performance, the American Physiological Society
Vogt, M, Billeter, R, Hoppeler, H (2003), Effect of hypoxia on muscular performance capacity: “living low—training high”, Ther Umsch, Jul;60(7), 4p. 19-24
Pialoux, V, Brugniaux, J.V, Fellmann, N Richalet, J.P, Robach, P, Schmirr, L, Coudert, J, Mounier, R (2009), Oxidative stress and HIF-1 alpha modulate hypoxic ventilatory responses after hypoxic training on athletes, Respi physiol Neurobiol, Jun 30;167(2), p.217-20
Dufour, S.P, Ponsot, E, Zoll, J, Doutreleu, S, Lonsdorfer, W.E, Geny, B, Lamber, E, Flück, M, Hoppeler, H, Billat, V, Mettauer, B, Richard, R, Lonsdorfer, J (2006), Exercise training in normobaric hypoxia in endurance runners. I. Improvement in aerobic performance capacity, J Appl physiol, Apr;100(4), p.1238-48
By Bjørn Toft @Physioinnovation
About IHE/HIH altitude training protocols, alternative passive recovery/performance enhancing strategies in altitude…
Different altitude-training protocols exist and there are more to come, but something that could draw attention to athletes is the most time efficient ways to gain in endurance capacity or to use recovery strategies. At Physioinnovation we consult and help you getting the right type of altitude training protocols for your sport, the timing of your peak performance, recovery strategies and so on.
More from the sports science concerning the IHT/HIH protocols, that we also offer at AlpCamps Sports Institute
Recently, Bonetti et al., (2009) conducted a trial of intermittent hypoxic exposure (IHE). IHE is described as being brief exposure to altitude ( less than 3 hours) (Bonetti and Hopkins, 2009). It has been proposed that muscular changes such as increased muscular buffering and haematological changes such as increased levels of reticolucytes (immature red blood cells – the carriers of oxygen) and haemaglobine (mature red blood cells – the carriers of oxygen) induced by a IHE protocol could possibly increase endurance performance (Bonetti et al., 2009).
Results from a study conducted by Bonetti and Hopkins (2009) obtained 3 days after the 3-week protocol by the test group (18 males) compared with a control group (8 males): The test group showed a 4,7% increase in cycling peak power, measured via a so-called incremental ramp test, where subjects increased the resistance on the bike every 3rd minute until exhaustion. These measurements was encountered in WATT, a tool that could be used by cyclists I.e. (SRM power data etc…)
Lactate profile power was increased (4,4%) – This would suggest that one conducting a sport were there is a period of lactic acid building, such as heavy and sore muscles would be able to prolong his period in where he/she could work intensively.
Heart rate profile power (6,5%) was increased as well, which would suggest that I.e. running 19,5km/hr would be 6,5% less hard for the cardiovascular system. Conclusively, the results would suggest that the increased cycling performance were due to peripheral changes, such as increased muscular buffering which means a better distribution of lactate acid elsewhere in the body, since there were no changes in haematological parameters such as haemaglobine.
Practically, the implementation of this time-efficient altitude training, would suggest a break through for competitive athletes, since it can be difficult to implement long duration live high train low protocols (>12 hours a day above 2500metres >21 days) within hard training periods.
The ultimate increase in performance within cycling peak power attenuated by increasing peripheral parameters such as lactate removal and more hence increase the efficiency of the muscle fibre can be obtained by consulting wihtin altitude training, as we propose at Physioinnovation.
Lately Chui et al, (2012) discovered that IHT or here called HIH Hypobaric intermittent hypoxia affected the cardiovascular system by an anti-hypertensive effect, although the study was conducted on rats the correlation to IHE on humans could might well be the same.
References : Bonetti, D.L., Hopkins, W.G., Lowe, T.E., Kilding, A.E., (2009), Cycling Performance FollowingAdaptation to Two Protocols of Acutely Intermittent Hypoxia, International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, vol.4, p.68-83
Bonetti, D.L., Hopkins, W.G., (2009), Sea-level exercise performance following adaptation to hypoxia: a meta-analysis, Sports Med, vol. 39(2), p.107-27
Millet, G.P., Roels, B., Schmitt, L., Woorons, X., Richalet, J.P., (2010), Combining Hypoxic Methods for Peak Performance, Sports med
Fang Cui, Lu Gao, Fang Yuan, Ze-Fei Dong, Zhao-Nian Zhou, David D. Kline, Yi Zhang, De-Pei (2012), Hypobaric Intermittent Hypoxia Attenuates Hypoxia-induced Depressor Response, Plos one
Is pedalling in cycling a brain controlled activity or is it a self-controlled movement that is stored as a reflex in the spine? This recently published paper by Sanket et al., (2012) shows us that the pedalling motion is highly depending on brain (cortex) activity. How can this sports scientific knowledge bring us further in understanding the pedalling motion and teach people how it is done correctly? The pedalling and biomechanical/physical training concept 5KineticGears by Physioinnovation is an approach to pedalling motion that has a great bond with neurology. It fits perfectly into the approach that pedalling is a motion that needs kinesthetic attention, brain training and a well founded biomechanists to help you learn these movements towards perfection.
Some of the reasons behind…
Assuming that the neurological feedback system has a great impact upon how we use our brain is perhaps more than ever a very important issue. The feedback system staring at the foot through maximum pressure points, the shape of the soles, the positioning of the cleats, to the pelvis and it’s angle plus pressure points on the saddle, ending at the hands with pressure points on the steer gives us the feedback from pressure neurons. They loop through our spine to our brain, giving us what is called “feedback” together with the information from our joints and tendons informing us of the angle in our joints, stretch of passive and active structures such as ligaments, tendons and muscles.
If the pedalling motion is actively controlled by the brain as proposed by Sanket et al., (2012) and not a self regulated action, then the feedback system is more important than ever! A well functioning feedback loop will generate the most accurate feed forward, hence an accurate pedalling motion and MORE EFFICIENT POWER!
What are our possibilities of giving ourselves the perfect feedback at the moment? A small example of how we work through the MyoKinematics Bike Fitting concept is by looking at the feet. The stiffer and faster the construction of the foot, the more and the faster feedback is given to the brain. Assuming that a faster feedback will give a better chance for the brain to work is not totally out of proportion. Therefore we also offer a special performance constructed sole…
The MyoKinematics bike fitting concept is all about giving the most qualitative feedback for your brain, so that you have maximum amount of information to work with. This will give you more options on order to work efficiently with your feed forward (your muscle coordination). We can actually monitor brain activity by looking at how the muscles work during pedalling. The MyoKinematics concept has the same type of technique as used in this study, but much more easily to use, non-invasive and readily available. We have consulted professional athletes that wants to have this knowledge because they of all now that the difference is in the details and the changes in details often brings a return in terms of increased power and efficiency during cycling.