The broader research of this study was to determine the minimal effective dose for living high and training low. This article suggest that previous altitude studies have shown that altitude training has had little effect on EPO and increasing red cell mass. The study hypothesized that the higher you live the greater the chronic stimulus to aerobic pathways and therefore Vo2 max and 3km time trial.
Athletes were assigned to four different altitude living arrangements while going through a training block at the 1,250 m – 3000 m.
The research problem identified to develop a specific understanding of the differences in physiological adaptation when comparing living at different altitude levels.
As mentioned in the study altitude training has been proven to improve VO2 max for sub elite and elite endurance athletes. While effective in the developing physiological adaptation the individual variance amongst previous studies is significant, particularly with EPO response and red cell mass. This study is hoping to discover the optimal chronic living altitude for a least affective dose to achieve hematological acclimatization and thus aerobic capacity performance.
A randomized small group of 48 athletes were selected controlled study. After 4 weeks of sea level testing which included hematological, metabolic, and performance base line measures at sea level. athletes were randomly assigned to one of four living altitudes (1,780, 2085, 2454 or 2800 m).
The research problem of this study was to quantify the most effective living altitude heights for improving aerobic capacity.
The subjects were randomly selected 48 collegiate track & cross country runners 32 men and 16 women close to the same age, weight & height of 21 – 24 years old, weighed 64 kg range of 8.4kg and 174cm range of 9cm.
Members were excluded if they didn’t fit the criteria of living altitude at or above 1500m, and or if injury or illness would impaired normal normal training.
The elimination for those living in the altitude zones, keeping physical traits similar and selecting healthy athletes from similar sporting back grounds helped eliminated any major bias about individual variance. Subjects were also matched by sex, training history, Vo2 max and a 3km time trial then randomly assigned to living one of the four living arrangements. Supervision from a staff member ensure living compliance. Athletes would only leave for grocery shopping and to train at the set intensity following the HiLo method. High intensity interval-based training completed at lower altitude of 1250 m. Moderate & low intensity training was completed at moderate altitude 1,780 – 3000m. I think the large range for moderate could be an issue for variability of results.
Assessment protocols were thorough and valid utilising previous research, Vo2 sub-maximal test assessed on a treadmill at a consistent pace 14km/h for men and 12km/h for women.
This researched utilised reliable and valid testing measure to determine bench marking and test the effectiveness of the study.
The data obtained throughout this study was appropriate and completed with scientific methods.
The use of tables and graphs was an effective way to present the testing data. The in-text results contained all significant findings in relation to the four different groups.
Figure 2 is an effective way presented percent change in 3,000m time trial performance at sea level from post altitude and 2-week post altitude. Effective show casing the difference in results amongst the four groups, the graph was lacking a heading yet there was a blurb providing context and helped with understanding the block graph.
The study set out to find the optimal living altitude for sea level performance enhancement omit aerobic capacity and physiology in endurance athletes when compared to different altitude living arrangements while completing the same training program.
The main findings from this study were that there was a large difference between the lowest altitude (1780m) when group compared to the other three groups. Including 44% less EPO changes, suggesting that living at higher altitude has a greater erythropoietic stimulus to increase red cell mass.
Performance increase in the 3km time trial for the two middle groups were superior (2 – 3%) when compared to the lowest and highest altitude groups whom had no change in 3km time trial.
The findings in this study showed significant difference in living at different altitude for 3km performance. The sample size was identified, and the study did a great job of filtering people from similar demographics while still randomly selecting the groups. Definitions and variables were all well explained to help with understanding what scientific terms like (Sa02) mean.
This study put to good use the current research on altitude training and living high training low for aerobic adaptation. While achieving their hypothesis of displaying the difference between living at different altitude heights, they also found contrast beliefs in that the highest altitude group didn’t achieve the greatest results.
I thought the limitation of this study was the dominance of male to female yet the study group did a good job to accommodate with adjust supplementation, the pace for sub max test and height/weight age of the athletes. Find the optimal living arrangements a few more groups could have been selected and a larger sample size of athletes now we have an idea that there is a sweet spot between 2085 – 2454m.
The discussion piece did a great job providing their opinion on why the highest group didn’t achieve the greatest results. Census being the acclimatization effects was more significant for this group and so the accumulation of poor-quality sleep and mountain sickness may have had negative effects on the training response and testing performance.
The implications of these findings were that there is difference in physiological response depending on what living altitude arrangement for living in high attitude. The practical take ways of this study were that the 1780m group wasn’t as effective as the middle two groups and the highest group had negative significant implications due to acclimatization.
Part 2: Reflection
Strength & Conditioning (S&C)
I have chosen Strength & Conditioning as the target discipline I would like to focus on. I have the desire to be a head strength & conditioning coach at AFL level soon. Currently clarifying my S&C philosophy for elite athletes, I also have a strong passion for helping athletes prepare for high performance and sound S&C principles and methods help with this. I enjoy working in a team environment and I like the fact S&C’s must not only consider our own area of expertise but also the coaches, dietitian, sport psych and of course the athletes.
This article struck my interest as it wasn’t long ago where AFL clubs were keen on going away for altitude camps for physiology reasons also mental resilience. Understanding the science behind ideal living in high altitude could come in handy down the line when planning training camps.
Personal & professional strengths
My strengths from a personal point of view are:
I am a motivated and curios learner, I enjoy open and honest conversations on why people do things the way they do. I love to connect with those I’m working with whether it be athletes or staff. I value inclusivity and having an open-minded mindset. This helps me develop rapport with those I’m working with.
In relation to professional strengths:
My strength & conditioning experience started 13 years ago.
The time dedicated to coaching has helped me develop my communication and skill set to adjust my coaching to suit the environment I am working in.
Playing the game of football for 10 years and working with sub-elite and elite footballers in an S&C role for the last 7 years has helped me have a strong understanding of the demands of the sport.
I have the tools to help athletes with their athletic strength & conditioning goals.
Areas for future improvement
In my group-level communication, I am working to ensure my group-level communication is clear, engaging, and time efficient. Familiarizing myself with the recent research on velocity-based training for power development and Maximal aerobic conditioning prescription for team-based athletes.
Check out our coaches academy for more high-performance
Jack McLean is the founder of Prepare Like a Pro. He loves coaching people so that they can reach their personal/professional goals and become the best that they can possibly be. He is currently the Strength & Rehab Coach of Melbourne Football Club and has worked as Strength & Conditioning Coach at Hawthorn Football Club. Jack is a Level 3 Australian Strength & Conditioning Association and Professional Coach and a Level 1 Australian Weightlifting Federation Coach.