Pre-Season/Post-Christmas Training at Altitude

Christmas is a festive period filled with well-deserved enjoyment and celebration. From over-indulging in mince pies to stacking the plate with pigs in blankets – these parts of the year are difficult not to take advantage of! However, the excess calories, late nights and lack of training make it difficult to return back to full fitness in the New Year.

Nevertheless, some training here at the Altitude Centre will help you get back up to speed quicker, as shown by some previously published research.

During pre-season, a group of triathletes partook in 10 days of altitude training in a chamber consisting of 2hr sessions on a stationary bike at 60-70% of their maximum heart rate everyday, whereas, an age and training status-matched control group did exactly the same at sea level. Before and after training, VO2MAX and Wingate tests were carried out to assess endurance and sprint performance, respectively.

The results showed that the group who completed their pre-season training in an altitude chamber subsequently improved their VO2MAX by 7% and Wingate performance by 7.4% after the 10 days compared to baseline – whereas, there were no significant changes in the sea level group. Notably, average heart rate throughout each test was consistently similar across both groups.

So, the take home message from this piece of research suggests that after the off-season, a 10-day period of altitude training is sufficient enough to improve endurance and sprint cycling performance compared to normal sea level. Additionally, these improvements were found even though there was no additional strain on the cardiovascular system i.e. the triathletes did not require greater “work” from the heart to produce the larger power.

After two weeks of altitude training in the chamber during the cold, dark months of January you’ll be back up to speed and ready to go for the year ahead!

Full study details:
Meeuwsen et al (2001). Eur J Appl Physiol (2001) 84: 283-290.