Altitude Training Improves Fitness For Judo

In recent years we’ve seen an explosion of research into the application of altitude training in new and exciting contexts. Subsequently we are seeing a wider variety of athletes using altitude in their preparation than ever before. While it of course remains popular with endurance athletes, we have seen altitude incorporated into the training of footballers, international rugby players, and tennis stars alike. Another area of growth has been in combat sport, with several high profile boxers and MMA fighters seeing success after using hypoxic training, and the UFC installing their own chamber at the Shanghai UFC Performance Centre. Now, research published just this week shows promising results for Judo players seeking that extra edge.

What Did They Do?

Researchers from Spain, in collaboration with US and Paris based colleagues, had 24 national and international level judokas, including a world champion, train for 3 weeks. Half trained at sea level, half in a hypoxic chamber (using a live low train high approach). During training, both groups undertook their normal training and nutritional practices, which were equal between groups.

What Did They Find?

The results showed that, while both groups improved their performance, the physical capacity of the group that trained in hypoxic conditions improved significantly more. Explosive leg capacity, for example, improved 8.2% after training in hypoxia but only 1.4% after sea level training, and interestingly this was an effect which was noticeable after just one week of altitude training, showing that even a short exposure to altitude might be beneficial to power athletes. Furthermore, the improvement which was maintained for at least two weeks after the training camp. The authors suggested this was due to altitude training accelerating neuromuscular adaptations, due to a rise in the recruitment of type II fibres- the explosive muscle fibres responsible for producing our high speed, high power movements.

What Does It Mean?

Taken together, this research which demonstrates improved muscle explosivity, and the growing literature base which demonstrates a beneficial effect of hypoxic training on repeat sprint ability, and we have good evidence to suggest that training in hypoxia can improve not only the ability to put out high power, explosive movements, but to do so repeatedly- vital components of combat sport performance. The authors did note that it will be important, when applying these findings, to combine hypoxic training with an emphasis on skills training, so that important sport specific techniques are improved alongside physical performance.

How Can These Findings Be Used?

Hypoxic training is very simple to implement in practice, especially with our hypoxic generators. While it is simple enough to use a hypoxic generator with a mask based system on a Wattbike or treadmill, it is equally simple to create a set up whereby the athlete is completing their resistance or power training while using the system, and we’ve seen great examples of athletes using hypoxic generators during sparing or sport specific training! For further information on solutions that work for you, get in touch!