What's On

Altitude Training Study In Elite Swimmers

24th Nov 2020

When you think of altitude training and how it’s used across elite sport, cyclists and endurance runners are often the athletes that come to mind but what about swimmers? Well, our very own Performance Specialist Meg Moss has been working with elite junior swimmers from City of Birmingham Performance Swim Squad to investigate the effects of altitude training on their performance.

For 5 weeks, the swimmers added altitude to their one cardio session each week by training with one of our portable hypoxic generators in their usual gym. Using the same equipment, they also undertook 2 passive intermittent hypoxic exposure (IHE) sessions each week, while carrying on their normal swim training. Why? Well, the research shows that the additional stress of training at simulated altitude leads to superior training responses compared to doing the same training at sea level. What’s more, adding the passive exposures to altitude gives a top up without adding more training stress into an already crowded schedule. Throughout training, the individual response to each session has been monitored carefully so that the altitude prescription was correct for every athlete every time they trained, which has been key to seeing some very positive results.

We added 2 passive IHE sessions each week into the program to top up the altitude exposure. No need to dedicate time to IHE, you can do it while you work or relax!



Indeed, the early results look very promising, with the swimmers improving their aerobic capacity by up to 30%, and impressive gains in their exercise economy (lower heart rate at any given intensity) and greater oxygen efficiency (higher blood oxygen saturation for a given intensity) following 5 weeks of training. In the water, times have improved by between 2-2.5%, very useful results from such a short training block in such a well-trained population.

By monitoring the response to each session in real time, Meg has been able to optimise the swimmers’ exposure to altitude



Next up, we’ll be looking to accelerate the return to pool fitness when current lockdown measures are eased at the start of December, before building to national championships and Olympic qualification in 2021. Exciting times ahead for these young guns, watch this space!

The Altitude Centre rents altitude training equipment for you to undertake the same training in your own home, or with your team whatever the sport. All our rentals benefit from expert advice in a pre-training consultation and a range of bespoke monitoring options are available to set you on the right path to achieve your goals.