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The demand for fitness in sports has increased manifold in today’s world. The athletes work constantly with their trainers to improve their performance. In recent times, a new technique known as ‘high altitude training’ is adopted by athletes to improve their strength and increase stamina. It is also known as Hypoxic Training, which majorly focuses on improving athletic performance and physical well-being. No doubt that altitude training gives elite runners and swimmers a competitive edge.
High Altitude Training
High altitude typically means a height of at least 7,000 to 8,000 feet above sea level. At that height, there is a lack of oxygen in the air. You feel tired easily as your muscles get tired quickly due to a lack of oxygen.
So, high altitude training forces your body to adapt to a lack of oxygen situation. Thus, it makes your body customed to do activity in less oxygenated air, thus helping your body to function better at sea level.
How does high altitude training work
You breathe in less oxygen at high elevations than you would at lower elevations. As a result, your muscles will receive less oxygen with each breath. While living at higher altitudes and being accustomed to breathing “thinner” air may sound like a strange thing, however, it can improve athletes’ athletic performance in events held at lower elevations.
Athletes feel that they must exert more effort during exercises at high altitudes to perform as effectively as they do at lower altitudes. Altitude-induced hypoxia, which is a reduction in the quantity of oxygen given to the muscles to burn fuel and produce energy, is what leads to a higher rate of perceived effort.
Artificial Altitude: Methods to perform high altitude training
Elevation training masks
Elevation training masks (ETMs), also known as altitude masks, are worn during exercise to put the body under stress by simulating circumstances at greater elevations.
An area of any size that replicates altitude circumstances is referred to as a hypoxic chamber, and its uses range from specialized training spaces to sleeping tents that provide athletes access to the physiological conditions present at higher elevations.
Benefits of High Altitude Training
Increase in the production of red blood cells
Your body must grow more effective at getting the essential oxygen molecules to your muscles since the amount of oxygen in the air is decreasing.
The protein erythropoietin, which stimulates the creation of red blood cells, is produced more often after high-altitude exercise, according to research. The more red blood cells you have, the more oxygen your muscles will receive when you’re running.
Increased Lactic capacity
During vigorous activity, your muscles create lactic acid as a byproduct when they consume oxygen. Muscle tiredness can develop as a result of lactic acid buildup. You’ll have to cease exercising as a result. Your tolerance to lactic acid may rise with altitude training. This indicates that your muscles can withstand larger amounts of lactic acid before becoming fatigued.
The muscles become less fatigued and do not cramp up easily. Muscle soreness is drastically reduced due to high-altitude training.
Increased metabolic rate
High altitude training is highly beneficial in weight loss because it increases the metabolic rate. According to studies, athletes practicing at high altitudes burn 2.5–3 times more energy than they would at sea level.
High altitude training forces your body to adapt to a lack of oxygen situation. Thus, it makes your body customed to do activity in less oxygenated air, thus helping your body to function better at sea level.
A natural training strategy at high and low altitudes may provide the best protocol for enhancing endurance performance in athletes. They are generally safe for recreational athletes, but they should be aware of their individual risks.