Altitude Training Consultant for Individual Climbers
Altitude Training Consultant for Athletes and Individual Climbers
Irina Zelenkova, MD, Ph.D., Everest Summiteer
An expert in altitude training, Irina’s Ph.D. focused on the "physiological processes of hypoxic tolerance in elite athletes."
For more than 15 years, Irina has been helping elite athletes achieve optimal results and climbers summit the world’s highest peaks.
Irina has supported athletes in achieving world records and/or Olympic medal success. She has prepared athletes for the Olympic Games in Sochi, Brazil, Korea, and Tokyo using various hypoxic training methods. She has also worked as a doctor and physiologist at 4 Olympic Games, 7 Dakar rally-marathons, and an Ironman World Championship.
Irina has provided medical supervision and training on Everest and North and South Pole expeditions. She has prepared professional and amateur teams for climbing the highest mountains on the planet including: Everest, Lhotse, Aconcagua, Manaslu, Vinson Peak, etc.
Contact Irina for a consultation to set up a personalized hypoxic training program.
Altitude training is a perfect tool for anyone who wants to maximize their performance.
Altitude training is a perfect tool for performance enhancement in elite and leisure athletes. Using altitude training, you will improve your endurance, power, and training efficiency. You will be able to recover faster and train smarter.
The higher you climb, the thinner the air gets. You begin to feel hypoxia - a lack of oxygen. Dizziness, drowsiness, tinnitus, chills and heavy perspiration, and blue lips occur because the body is not prepared for high altitudes and a lack of oxygen in the inhaled air. To successfully reach such altitudes, you must acclimatize yourself beforehand to prepare your body for altitude.
HEALTH AND WELLBEING
Altitude training is a tool for improving your health and well-being. Using altitude training, you will improve your energy level, decrease stress, improve weight loss, and reduce blood pressure and sugar levels. If you are looking for an effective method to improve your health and wellbeing - altitude training is the best solution.
Altitude training for athletic performance
Altitude training is becoming more and more popular among elite athletes. With innovations in technology and hypoxic methods, altitude training has become an essential part of training programs for many sports. In this article, we would like to highlight the most effective strategies for the application of altitude training that can be used in routine practice for performance enhancement.
Altitude training in sports can be used for:
- Preparation for competitions at altitude
- Enhancing performance at sea level
- Increasing the training volume and intensity at the period following a training camp at altitude
- Cross-adaptation to heat
- Strength training
Preparation for competitions at altitude
By increasing altitude, there is a decrease in atmospheric pressure, which in turn leads to a decrease in the partial pressure of oxygen in the inhaled air. When the partial pressure of oxygen in the inhaled air decreases, the delivery of oxygen to organs and tissues decreases proportionally. In response to a decrease in oxygen delivery, an entire set of adaptation processes occurs. These processes are divided into two categories: urgent adaptation and long-term adaptation. Urgent adaptation is the body's first response to being in a mid-mountain environment which results in an increase in pulmonary ventilation, heart rate, etc. If a stay in the middle mountains lasts more than a few hours, long-term adaptation processes are activated which aim tot increase oxygen delivery and its utilization. A high altitude range of 1500 to 2500 meters above sea level is deemed to be mid-mountain. Research suggests that as altitude increases from 1500 meters above sea level, the efficiency rate decreases by 2-3% for every 300 meters. This is of particular importance in endurance sports. In highly skilled athletes, a decrease in performance at 2000 meters can be as high as 10%. This is why the implementation of hypoxic exposure in your training program for a competition at altitude is crucially important.
Enhancing performance at the sea level
Under the influence of hypoxia, the adrenal glands release erythropoietin, which triggers a cascade of processes to form a haematological response. Exposure to altitudes above 1600-1800 meters is necessary to stimulate erythropoiesis. An increase in total haemoglobin mass by 1% per week at an altitude of 2,500 meters could result in an increase of total haemoglobin mass by 12% after a 12-week stay at that altitude. Although an increase in red blood cell count is the most visible (significant) marker of altitude training, this parameter is highly individual and depends on many factors. The individual secretion of erythropoietin directly influences the increase in total haemoglobin mass. There is also a clear relationship between the increase in total haemoglobin mass and BMR, and a change of 1 g/kg in total haemoglobin mass, according to scientific publications, results in a change of 4.4 ml/kg/min in maximal oxygen consumption.
Altitude also leads to non-haematological adaptations
Non-haematological adaptations include muscular, metabolic, and ventilatory adaptations. All of these adaptations lead to an increase in performance. Among muscular adaptations, we can distinguish improvement of mitochondrial function, an increase in capillarization and myoglobin in the muscles, and muscle buffering capacity. The metabolic effect refers to the stimulation of the glycolytic pathway and through ventilatory adaptations to hypoxia. Energetic properties are also improved, including energy efficiency, leading to an increase in sea-level performance.
In combination, haematological and non-haematological adaptations result in improved performance and a positive effect of altitude training on sports performance.
Increasing the training volume at a training camp following a training camp at altitude
The improvement of athletic performance after hypoxic training at altitude and sea level is associated with routine practice with competition preparation. But a year’s training plan can be used to increase performance during the key training periods, for example, in the basic period or in the period of specific preparation. This approach can help you to customize/individualize altitude training with different goals in mind.
Cross-adaptation to the heat
Many elite athletes have started to combine climatic chambers and hypoxic exposure in their training in preparation for the Olympic Games and other major events in high heat environments (world championships, regional competitions) or simply uset hypoxic exposure to gain heat acclimatisation. The fact is that adaptation to heat and adaptation to hypoxia have cross-adaptation mechanisms (i.e., adaptation to one type of environmental influence has positive effects on performance in other conditions).
Hypoxic training is a very powerful tool for rehabilitation. Application of hypoxic exposure can help to support the cardiovascular system during periods of inactivity due to injury or increased training intensity during the rehabilitation process by applying a lower external load.
This area is still in development but there are relevant studies that elucidate the possible positive effects of hypoxic training on the anabolic response. A hypertrophy oriented training program in combination with hypoxic exposure looks to be a powerful and promising strategy for performance enhancement. In a study by Manimmanakorn and colleagues, the additional size gain of 3.2% was detected after five weeks of low-intensity resistance training under intermittent normobaric hypoxia in comparison with normal training.
This paper highlights the most effective strategies for the application of altitude training. In future articles, we will focus more on the protocols and their practical application.