Within scientific research, it is typically unusual to find a controlled study that incorporates solely women as the participant group, so it’s exciting to find a piece of research on hypoxia (altitude training) that features women as the subject group.

A study published last year (2015) by a research group in Japan investigated the effects of carrying out repeated sprints in hypoxia (altitude conditions) and normoxia (sea level).

A total of 32 female collegiate athletes undertook four weeks of repeated sprint training, with two sessions per week; each session consisted of two sets of 10x 7s sprints interspersed with 30s recovery. The cohort were split into two groups, with group one completing their sprints in a hypoxic environment (14.5% O2; ~2900m) and group two in a sea level environment (20.99 O2; ~0m) – all participants were unaware of which group they were in.

Following the 4 weeks of training, the researchers found that the group who completed their sprints in hypoxia had a significantly improved output compared to the group who were not in hypoxia. Specifically, average power increased by 9.7% and peak 5% in the hypoxic group vs. 1.5 and 6%, respectively, in the normoxic group relative to their baseline assessment. Conversely, VO2MAX was not improved in either group.

These findings suggest that women who undertake repeated sprint training in the hypoxic chamber twice a week for a month will have a significantly improved sprint capacity and performance than if they were to do the same training at sea level.

Additionally, it highlights that sprint intervals alone may not be sufficient enough to improve aerobic-based performance – a mixture of endurance in addition to sprinting may be required, as found here. As if you needed any more reason to join our hypoxic HIIT classes…