What is altitude training?
Altitude training, also known as Hypoxic Training, is a training regimen that focuses on improving athletic performance and physical wellness for people from all walks of life. It can also help individuals with acclimatisation to high altitudes. Here, the air has reduced levels of oxygen. High altitude training comes down to exercising in, living in or breathing in these low oxygen conditions. Exposure to this low oxygen air, which is also referred to as a state of hypoxia, is a great challenge for the human body. Since the energy of our cells primarily comes from oxygen, the body has to work hard to compensate for the lack of it while under hypoxia. With altitude training, athletes, fitness enthusiasts and other health conscious individuals can benefit greatly from training under these ideal conditions. They can make big strides in their physical wellness. With a little help from Hypoxico, they can do so when- and wherever they want. Even at sea-level!
Training at altitude has been used to improve athletic performance for decades. After numerous American running records fell at the Olympic Games in Mexico City, researchers soon found out this had to do with altitude training. Nowadays, plenty of teams, athletes and individuals who are concerned with their health have been using low oxygen training as part of their training regimen and/or preparation.
Circa 1995, Hypoxico's patented technology made it possible for people to reap the high altitude training benefits without the actual need to be at a height. High altitude training facilities could now be set up anywhere. The hardship of traveling to- or living in higher altitudes could easily be prevented. We have accomplished this through the production and use of so-called normobaric air. This is used to simulate altitudes of up to 21,000ft/6.400m.
What are the benefits of altitude training?
So, what does altitude training do? It will provide plenty of benefits, regardless of the method used. Due to the fact that the state of hypoxia -or exposure to low oxygen air- proves to be an enormous challenge for the human body, several physiological reactions will occur. This, for example, includes increased capillarization, which provides greater oxygen delivery to the tissues, muscles and brain. A decrease in average heart rate and blood pressure helps with stimulating the metabolism of fat.
The following physiological reactions have been shown to occur
- Amplified pulmonary oxygen absorption
- Boosted production of Erythropoietin Hormone (EPO) by the kidneys. This stimulates generation of Red Blood Cells
(RBCs) and enhanced oxygen transportation through the body
- Increased capillarization for greater oxygen delivery to the tissues, muscles and brain
- Enhanced production and rejuvenation of mitochondria (the cell’s hub for aerobic energy production) and mitochondrial enzymes, allowing more efficient use of oxygen for energy production and superior enzymatic anti-oxidative defense.
- Decreased average Heart Rate and Blood Pressure
- Increased production and release of Human Growth Hormone
- Stimulation of fat metabolism
Methods of Altitude Training
Before deciding on an altitude training method, you have the option to choose between two types of systems. Commercial systems or home systems. Commercial systems are multi-user systems that are specifically designed to fit your every need. Home systems allow you to train at altitude from the comfort of your own home.
The actual training methods are as follows
- Exercising at altitude
- Sleeping in an altitude tent
- Intermittent Hypoxic Training
We will discuss each of these training methods below.
1. Exercising at altitude
Exercising at an altitude will help improve muscular endurance and increases fitness. This is done through intensified aerobic and anaerobic training sessions. Athletes can enjoy an optimal preparation for competitions or sports by training under a state of intermittent hypoxia with this high altitude sports training. This will improve one's breathing economy and will train the ability for the body to stay saturated with oxygen, even while performing at a high altitude.
This exercising will result in less fatigue afterwards and leads to a quicker recovery. You will be able to increase the intensity of your training regimen and shift to the next gear. Low oxygen training can help you improve repeated sprint performance, increase anabolic hormonal responses and increase red blood cell mass. Studies have shown that an increase in VO2max of 7% and a 7.4% increase in mean maximal power output/kg bodyweight (Wmax) can be achieved after just 10 days of exercising at a simulated altitude of 8000ft/2500m.
So what can high altitude sports training mean for you?
- Increase VO2 Max and Lactate Threshold
- Increase Power output and Speed
- Enhance Endurance and Stamina
- Reduce Recovery time
2. Sleeping in an altitude tent
The most common and widely accepted technique that's used in hypoxic training is sleeping at altitude. It's often described using the term: “Live High, Train Low” and first introduced by Benjamin Levine and James Stray-Gundersen. While it might sound convoluted, sleeping at high altitudes can easily be simulated with the help from Hypoxico. This method of training involves sleeping while being exposed to hypoxia (or low-oxygen air). During the day, you will participate in physical training sessions. Since these altitudes are simulated, the necessity of actually travelling to- or living in an higher altitude environment can be avoided.
So, what is an altitude tent, exactly?
Hypoxico's altitude tent system helps individuals who want to reap the benefits of training at high altitude but are not looking for permanent residence at these higher altitudes. For someone who lives and trains at higher altitudes it might be easy enough, but for most, living at- or travelling to these heights often proves to be difficult. Issues that may arise, such as limited training load in oxygen deficient air, muscle loss, immune system suppression, advanced dehydration and excessive fatigue can be prevented with the use of an altitude tent. These sleeping tents will help you with simulated training at an altitude by exposing you to hypoxia. And since most health-conscious individuals and athlethes live at sea-level, this might just be the way to go.
Hypoxico has the following altitude tents:
- Altitude tent deluxe
- Portable altitude tent (queen)
- Head altitude tent
- Altitude tent cubicle (at home)
Is sleeping in an altitude tent not for you? Do you want something to use on the move? Please do consider our sleeping masks. You can find out more about all the possibilities these offer by visiting our store.
3. Intermittent Hypoxic Training
Intermittent Hypoxic Training, or IHT, is an altitude training system by Hypoxico that enables athletes -injured or healthy- to enhance their performance. By training at high altitude, athletes and other health-concious individuals will enjoy an increase in their fitness while suffering from injuries. It can also be used to help with the pre-acclimatization to high altitudes.
IHT involves short intermittent inhalations in bursts of about 3 to 5 minutes of hypoxic air. This hypoxic air with 10% O2 simulates altitudes of up to 20,000ft/6000m. These inhalations of hypoxic air are alternated by inhalations of ambient air, in bursts of 2 to 5 minutes.
The science behind Intermittent Hypoxia Training
These hypoxic and hypercapnic cycles (with increased CO2) simulate a natural physiological training mechanism. This training mechanism occurs during mammalian embryonic development to help newborns fight the initial oxidative stress of hyperoxia at birth. By recreating this, an adult's defense against unavoidable oxidative stress can be boosted and provides the same effect. Although it is geared towards wellness, intermittent hypoxic training is a very universal training protocal.
Positive effects that IHT provides:
- Prevention and/or alleviation of chronic and degenerative illnesses, such as Alzheimer's, diabetes and cancer
- Slowing of the aging process
- Improves overall health, wellness and rejuvenation
- Intermittent Hypoxic Therapy with Spinal Cord Injury Patients