Performance and metabolic responses to repeated sprints at altitude

Those who dislike training at altitude may occasionally try to disprove the obvious benefits that altitude training can provide. In theory, this could make sense. Exercising in an environment with less oxygen than sea level would be harder as the body demands oxygen to function optimally – with less of it, you’d imagine that the body would function less efficiently.

Fear not!

A group of researchers have found this to not be the case after publishing some research in the Journal of Athletic Enhancement last year. They took a group of AFL athletes through a challenging protocol, consisting of 10 reps of 6s sprints interspersed with 24s recovery on a non-motorised treadmill, completed in an altitude (~3200m) and sea level environment. Measurements of running velocity, oxygen uptake and lactate were recorded at regular intervals.

The results showed that average and maximal running velocity across all sprints did not differ between altitude and sea level. Oxygen uptake, however, was significantly lower during sprints in altitude than sea level whilst lactate concentrations were significantly higher following the final sprint in altitude. The interpretation of these findings lead the researchers to suggest that sprints completed in altitude significantly increase the reliance on anaerobic metabolism, as demonstrated by the reduced amount of oxygen uptake and greater lactate concentration, without negatively impacting on sprinting performance. The take home message from this is that carrying out sprints in an altitude environment improves your ability to break energy down rapidly and efficiently to maintain performance at the highest of intensities.

Therefore, when completing the hypoxicHIIT classes in the chamber, you can rest assured knowing that your performance and metabolic responses will be benefiting from the intense work you are doing!

Study Details:

Performance and Metabolic Responses of Highly-Trained Team-Sport Athletes during Repeated Sprinting in Hypoxia
Morrison et al. (2015)
J Athl Enhancement