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What is altitude training?

asaltitude training basically refers to the attempt to achieve a training effect through natural or simulated sea level.

How does altitude training work?

During altitude training, athletes try to move their body to adapt by living or training in extreme situations (altitude). In altitude training, individual stimuli are not sufficient. Only with repeated stress stimuli does the body begin to adapt over the long term (Fuchs & Reiß, 1990). In addition, stimuli of sufficient duration and strength are needed to trigger such adaptations. The aim of this procedure is to achieve an increase in performance and then transfer this to competition and to a normal height level.

Changed environment

The stimuli that force the body to adapt at altitude are primarily the changed oxygen partial pressure and air pressure, which continue to fall exponentially with increasing altitude (de Marees, 2003). The oxygen content in this air always remains the same at 20.93%. However, due to the reduced air pressure, there are fewer gas molecules in a unit volume of air. Therefore, the oxygen partial pressure falls proportionally to the air pressure. For example, at 5000m altitude, we already have only 50% oxygen partial pressure.

adjustment

In order to counteract a lack of oxygen supply, the body begins with an acute lack of supply (hypoxia) with an increase in respiratory minute volume and an increase in cardiac output in order to supply all important areas with oxygen-rich blood. For the athlete, this means increased breathing activity to ensure sufficient oxygen saturation. Additionally, the blood thickens to move more erythrocytes (red blood cells) per heartbeat (de Marees, 2003).
But the actual desired effect of altitude training is an increase in the production of red blood cells in order to be able to bind more oxygen in the blood. This is exactly how the desired increase in the production of erythrocytes (red blood cells), which reaches a final value after 4-6 weeks (de Marees, 2003), occurs during a continuous stay at high altitude over several weeks. Another positive side effect is that the working muscles get used to the reduced oxygen requirement and learn to deal with it.

How does altitude training affect the athlete?

The real effect of altitude training is that the difficult conditions and training at altitude lead to a higher level of functioning, which one tries to transfer to normal conditions. However, altitude training is also commonly used to acclimate when a competition is to be held at high altitudes (eg Mexico City - 2310 m above sea level) (Fuchs, 1995). But outside of acclimatization, long-distance endurance sports are primarily concerned with altitude training (Levine & Stray-Gundersen, 1997). Due to the physiological adaptations of the body, a significant increase in performance can be observed in these sports if the altitude training is designed properly and professionally. The aerobic supply of energy improves through improved muscular work and through the increased oxygen transport and there is improved blood circulation in the muscle tissue (Fuchs & Reiß, 1990). But for high-intensity sports such as martial arts, various sports games (handball, soccer, etc.) or parts of athletics such as the 100 m sprint, the disadvantages outweigh the disadvantages. The increased hematocrit values ​​in the blood lead to increased viscosity (thickness), which results in increased heart work and poorer supply of the small blood vessels. Therefore, altitude training is not recommended for high-intensity exertion, unless for acclimatization to a competitive sport (de Marees, 2003).

Benefits of Altitude Training:

  • + Increase in the oxygen capacity of the blood

  • + Improvement of blood circulation in the muscle

  • + Improvement of the aerobic supply of energy in the muscle

  • + suitable for endurance athletes

  • +improved performance at normal level

Disadvantages of altitude training:

  • – increased blood viscosity (toughness)

  • – resulting in increased work for the heart muscle

  • - and the resulting decrease in cardiac output (liters per minute pumped by the heart into the body)

  • – very expensive and time-consuming

  • – Medical supervision required

  • – almost impossible for “non-professionals”.

Why doesn't the Phantom Training Mask offer altitude training?

The question is asked again and again whether the Phantom training mask has the same effect on the training or your body as the altitude training, or whether it simulates "altitude training". But we always have to say no to this question. This is a kind of “urban myth”.

 

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