What is Elevation Training?
Altitude Training or Elevation Training is the practice by which athletes, typically endurance athletes, perform their training at high altitude, preferably over 2,400 meters(8,000 ft) above sea level. But due to the lack of locations that are suitable for training at this elevation, intermediary locations are utilized as well. Training at such heights causes the body to adapt to the lack of oxygen, thereby producing more red blood cells to carry oxygen to the muscles. It is claimed when athletes return to lower elevation their high red blood cell count remains for 10-14 days giving them a competitive advantage. Many training camps such as Swiss Olympic Training Base Camp are located at such heights to better prepare their athletes for competitions.
Back Ground History
The study of altitude training first arose after the 1968 Olympics that took place in Mexico City, Mexico: elevation 2,240 m (7,349 ft). It was during these Olympic Games that endurance events saw a significant below-record finishes while anaerobic, sprint events broke all types of records. The theory was that the altitude might have affected performances of these elite, world-class athletes. It was hypothesized that endurance events would suffer and short events would not see a significant negative side effect. This was attributed to less resistance during movement- due to the less dense air – but also to the anaerobic nature of the sprint events. This is what sparked the investigations into altitude training from which unique training principals were developed with the aim of avoiding underperformance.
Benefits of Elevation Training
Exposing the body to high altitude causes it to acclimatise to the lower oxygen levels available in the atmosphere. Many of the changes that occur with acclimatisation improve the delivery of oxygen to the muscles, which in theory lead to better athletic performance.
For any exercise lasting longer than a few minutes, the body uses oxygen to generate energy. Without it, muscles simply seize up and can become damaged. This type of exercise is call aerobic exercise, meaning oxygen.
A hormone called erythropoetin (EPO) stimulates the production of red blood cells that carry oxygen to the muscles. The more oxygen transporting red blood cells you have the more oxygen you can deliver to your muscles, therefor more energy. There are also other physiological changes that occur during acclimatisation which may help athletic performance, including an increase in small blood vessels, increase in buffering capacity (ability to manage build up of waste acid) and changes to in the microscopic structure and function of the muscles themselves.
Live High/Train Low
Live High/Train Low is a training method in which athletes live at high altitudes and train at low altitudes. The purpose is to reap the benefits of high altitude acclimatisation while keeping the intensity of training at sea level. The High altitude is typically simulated in altitude tents, sleeping chambers, or elevation training mask where the air is reduced of oxygen or over saturated with nitrogen. The effects of this type of training have shown increase in hemoglobin, red blood cells, and VO2 max (max efficiency for oxygen consumption).
Live High/Train High
Live High/Train High is a traditional altitude training technique where athletes relocate to training camps located at high altitudes & train there as well. There is no clinical data that proves the effectiveness of this training regimen primarily because of the numerous confounding variables that scientist have to take into account. However, this training regimen has been shown to induce performance benefits in athletes.
How to take Advantage
Obviously we all cannot travel to such great lengths to see an increase in our performance. For those that are near such locations where they can take advantage of the High Altitude you should give it a try and see if you benefit substantially from it. However, for the rest of us without such optimal geographic location there are a number of products out there that can aid in our lack of altitude. One of the most affordable and leading fitness products out their is the Elevation Training Mask. This mask is to be worn during training, it simulates varying altitudes dependent on filters placed on mask. This device helps you better control your breathing & brings some serious intensity to your workout! If your ready to take your training to the next level, we highly recommend that you take advantage of this mask!