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A higher calling, but does altitude training work?

By François Billaut

Some professional sporting teams spend the off season at high altitude, but how effective is this?

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You might have heard about athletes and other sportspeople absconding to high-altitude locations for training.

Indeed altitude training has become the training-method-du-jour for sporting codes around the world. But does it actually work? And do athletes benefit from it?

Hypoxia – a condition whereby the body is deprived of adequate oxygen – has been used for decades as an additional stimulus to training by endurance athletes to:

1) Enhance performance at sea level
2) Prepare for competition at altitude.

Representatives from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) even considered placing “artificially-induced hypoxic conditions” on the 2007 Prohibited List of Substances/Methods to avoid competitive advantages acquired by training at altitude.Could getting high give an unfair advantage? iwona kellie

Despite this apparent endorsement for altitude training’s effectiveness, results from studies of the practice are not unanimously positive.

Performance improvements, when present, are in the order of only 2–3% after several weeks of solid training.

That said, it’s worth considering gold medals in elite international endurance events are often won with a 0.5% margin.

Several approaches have evolved in the last few...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

François Billaut is Lecturer in Exercise and Sport Physiology at Victoria University. This article was originally published at The Conversation.