Simulated Altitude Training for the Improvement of Physical Abilities
Since the “altitude” Olympics in Mexico ’68, the use of Altitude Training / Simulated Altitude / Hypoxia to improve physical capacities has been a constant in elite sport.
The athlete can improve their performance by benefiting from increased endurance, pre-acclimatization to altitude, efficiency of energy metabolism, improved recovery, reduced pulsations at rest, increased speed and power, increased lactate threshold and VO2max, weight loss, improved capillarization and perfusion.
An optimized oxygenation capacity allows for faster recoveries that allow a higher density and intensity of training, which can help increase performance.
Currently, sports physiology research continues to explore new possibilities of applying Hypoxia Training beyond the traditional ones for aerobic resistance disciplines; the ability to perform repeated sprints or strength training are an example of these new applications that open the picture to the efficiency of anaerobic metabolism and hypertrophy.
Simulated Altitude Training is useful both for the athlete who has to compete at altitude and for the athlete who wants to improve their performance at sea level.
Simulated Altitude Training and Acclimatization to Altitude
For the amateur mountaineer or occasional mountaineer traveling to Kilimanjaro (5895m), for example, exposure to simulated altitude / hypoxia prevents against AMS or Acute Mountain Sickness, shortens the acclimatization time to extreme altitude and combined with exercise (eg, weighted backpack treadmill walk or rotating climbing simulator) enhances adaptation and prepares for hypoxic physical activity.
Having a Hypoxia Generator equipment at home allows the mountaineer to shorten periods of acclimatization “in situ”, reducing logistics problems, as well as the economic cost of the expedition, this is a preparatory strategy that many high mountain athletes such as Killian Jornet successfully follow on his record climb to Everest (26h without oxygen).
Simulated Altitude Training and Health
Health applications of intermittent hypoxia protocols have been widely studied in the former USSR, these being the first to promote “hypoxic therapy” for the treatment of different types of conditions.
Hypoxia is a non-specific impact factor and causes a wide variety of physiological reactions at various levels in the human body. The therapeutic effect of intermittent hypoxia (IHE) relies on the adaptive response to repeated short-term application of moderate hypoxia that is aimed at improving oxygen delivery and utilization. These compensatory adaptation mechanisms have been scientifically proven to effectively treat a variety of pathological conditions where hypoxia and / or oxidative stress play an important role.
Positive effects due to hypoxic treatment have been found in coronary and heart disease, hypertension, lung diseases, chronic asthma and bronchitis, liver and pancreas disease, anemia and iron deficiency, metabolic disorders (obesity, type II diabetes). Helps in recovery from spinal cord injuries and stroke and in preparation for surgery.
It has also been used with success in the treatment of other areas of medicine such as disorders of neurological and psychosomatic function, lack of energy and fatigue, anxiety and depression, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.