High-altitude training will power up the intensity of your workout routine in a relatively short amount of time. In this blog article, we will touch on the benefits of high-altitude training and discuss how you can incorporate it into your fitness regimen, regardless of where you live.
What Is High Altitude Training?
Also known as high elevation training, this process is just like it sounds…it focuses on exercising at higher-than-usual altitudes.
As every fitness coach will tell you, exercise requires getting oxygen to the working muscles.
The idea behind altitude training is that it increases your red blood cell count. As a result, this allows your body to carry more oxygen to the working muscles.
If you can carry more oxygen to the working muscles, you can sustain higher-intensity work for a longer period of time. High-altitude workouts improve your VO2 max. VO2 max is the maximal ability of your body to uptake and utilize oxygen.
Ever since the 1968 Olympic Games were held in the high elevation of Mexico City, athletes worldwide have become aware of the importance (and advantages) of training in high-altitude settings.
Take Your Fitness to New Heights
Exercising in thin air at high altitudes presents a unique challenge to the body.
Elevation training requires you to put in more effort during workouts. It forces you to become more efficient in delivering oxygen to the muscles.
High altitude traditionally refers to 7,000 to 8,000 feet above sea level or higher. You draw in less oxygen per breath in high-altitude environments than at lower altitudes. This means that with each breath, your muscles receive less oxygen.
This may sound like a negative thing, but training in higher altitudes and breathing “thinner” air actually enhances athletic performance.
4 Benefits of High Altitude Training
Even if you’re not a professional athlete, you may want to examine the advantages of altitude performance. Here are some of the key findings:
Improved Oxygen Delivery
The body uses oxygen to produce energy. This helps your muscles move and perform exercises.
When you work out, your body delivers oxygen to your muscles but eventually becomes drained as your blood is unable to keep up with the oxygen demands of your muscles.
High-altitude training increases the production of the erythropoietin hormone (EPO), which activates red blood cell production. In turn, this enhances oxygen delivery to your tissues and muscles, decreasing muscle fatigue and boosting athletic performance.
Increased Lung Capacity
High-altitude training works to increase lung capacity, which can significantly improve performance during workouts.
Higher Lactic Acid Threshold
When your muscles use oxygen during intense exercise, they produce lactic acid. When lactic acid accumulates, it leads to muscle fatigue, which causes athletes to stop their workouts.
However, high-altitude training allows athletes to perform for longer periods before their muscles feel fatigued. This is helpful in competitions that require endurance.
Supports Endurance and Performance
Research on the performance of long-distance runners found that elevation training effectively enhanced athletic performance. Once again, this is due to increased oxygen delivery to the muscles and improved efficiency of oxygen utilization. A separate study revealed an increase in the performance of elite cyclists of over 10 percent due to training at altitude. The benefits are clear that elevation boosts performance.
High-Elevation Training Options
Simply put, high altitude exercise is the practice of working out in places high above sea level so your body adapts to having less oxygen, enhancing your athletic performance.
However, it may not be practical for all of us.
The good news is that you don’t need to move to Colorado or work out on a mountaintop to get the benefits of elevation training.
Living in low elevation does not have to be a barrier to high-altitude exercise. There are ways to gain the benefits of high altitude regardless of where you live.
- You can adapt high-intensity interval training (HIIT) to include an elevation training mask (ETM). The scientific literature reports that using an ETM positively affected both aerobic and anaerobic power performance.
- Incline training on a treadmill or similar equipment isn’t exactly the same, but walking or running hills is a great way to boost the intensity of your workout.
These adaptations can help you experience elevation benefits during your high-intensity training routine.
You cannot control the altitude in your area, but we all know working out is essential for optimal health. Fit Body Boot Camp can help.
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