Warm weather work prepares athletes for altitude

For athletes preparing to train at altitude, there is no need to spend time and money on acclimatising in specialist chambers.

According to a study in the journal Frontiers in Physiology, heat-based training offers the best means to adjusting well to the low-oxygen air.

Dr Ben Lee of the University of Coventry asked male cyclists to perform a time trial as part of their study. Lee and his team tested their tolerance to low oxygen levels before and after a series of 10 daily, hour-long bike sessions in either low-oxygen or hot conditions. They also took blood samples to see how the athletes’ cells responded to the different training methods.

“We show that when the duration and frequency of training performed in heat or at altitude are the same, the heat-based training can offer a more obtainable and time-efficient method to improving tolerance to altitude,” Dr Lee says.

Blood analysis revealed that the stress response at a cellular level was the same for both approaches.

“There are many companies that provide normobaric altitude training and acclimation sessions,” says Dr Lee. “However, the evidence that this form of training offers any enhanced adaptation to ‘real world’ altitude is limited.”

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