This blog is about the positive role of altitude and interval training upon physical fitness, especially the Australian method called Train High Live Low which we argue is the most ethical and also one of the most efficient methods to move faster. This method is completely opposite to the one orginally presented by Levine & Gundersen, called LHTL (Live High Train High).
Our ethical standpoint…
We are strong believers of sports science, but we WILL NOT tolerate anything that can change blood parameters in a NON natural way, by this we mean sleeping in altitude tents for more than 8 hours or by the use of any medical banned substances. We do believe that athletes should have equal training methods even though you live at sea level or components living in the altitude or having easy access to the altitude. This is why we offer a device that can simulate altitude up to 6000 meters for athletes wanting to prepare for the effort in the altitude (a competition or event). We believe that this is a legitimate and ethical responsible way to prepare yourself to what will be required of you as an athlete in a competition. Many of us living at sea level, cannot due to financial and logistic difficulties prepare our self with a long duration altitude training camp. Therefore we offer rental of this device with an incorporated training program preparing your muscles for the effort in the altitude. The example below is taking place on bike put on a home trainer. The scientific examples is from runners but will work just fine with cyclists or cross country skiers as well.
Further there is a discussion on the effects upon the body from this type of training. Lastly there is the PRACTICAL IMPLEMENTATION based from a scientific trial, we have then personally tried out one type of interval training programmes with our own altitude simulator system from Hypoxico systems.
Some dry stuff but important to know for the serious endurance athlete…
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 (Michalsik and Bangsbo, 2005).
Since late 90’s there has been a lot of attention into hypoxic training or so called 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 and we also believe that it is at the very border of what is acceptable from an ethical standpoint. However, since the study was carried out in a natural setting (mountains) we do accept it. But had this been conducted in either tents or chambers it would have been another case!
Intermittent altitude 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. In the 6week study they implemented 2 days of training in simulated altitude consisting of 2x12 min intervals increasing the periods to 16 and 20min during the 6-week intervention.
The results were promising, 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. 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 (Dufour et al, 2006; Vogt et al, 2003) Hereby creating a better circulation and exchange in the blood/muscle barrier.
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).
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)
PRACTICALLY: One could speculate that by implementing the model as mentioned above by Dufour et al. (2006) would give an increase in performance (+5% vo2max and +35% time to exhaustion)… That is a lot! And you have not done anything illegal, which is why this method has become so widely adopted by especially the Australians and more Europeans are looking into this method as well!
Have a look at the interval method below, here you will see the practical implementation that I tried by mimicking the above-mentioned study. I wish I had a SRM to show power (watts)…
- 10min warm up self selected cadence on a Tacx SATORI home-trainer
- 12min interval at 8/10 resistance on home-trainer min sustained cadence at 70RPM max sustained cadence at 80RPM or (∼80% vo2max)
- 3min active recovery at self selected cadence and resistance
- 12min interval at 8/10 resistance on hometrainer min sustained cadence at 70RPM max sustained cadence at 80RPM or (∼80% vo2max)
- 10 min warm down at self selected cadence and resistance on the hometrainer, still in 3000m
It is a pure endurance interval 4:1ratio, which at our point of view is good to build a solid endurance base during winter. These 2 intervals of 12min separated by 3min -10beat/min break could be used into the competitive cyclist, cross country skier or runners training program.
Contact us to learn more! We strongly suggest you choosing us a your personal sport performance coach, since the implementation of such an altitude training program has to be designed with a considerable amount of respect to your recovery methods.
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