Training at altitude for a gold medal…what does it take?
We all know that elite athletes use altitude training to prepare optimally for competition. Most of this training involves travelling to altitude within Europe and the United States, but it can be considered a secret as to what athletes actually get up to whilst in the mountains. For example, what type of intensity and volume is permitted, and what does this do for performance? A recent study has provided some insight into this by analysing the data of two Olympic athletes (walker, athlete A; marathon runner, athlete B) during a 3 week live-high train-high training camp at 2090 m, which is summarised below:
– Training intensity
Athlete A: zone 1 = 19%, zone 2 = 52%, zone 3 = 29%.
Athlete B: zone 1 = 75%, zone 2 = 7%, zone 3 = 18%.
– Training volume
Athlete A: 435 km.
Athlete B: 652 km.
– Training diary
Athlete A: no injury or illnesses.
Athlete B: no injury or illnesses.
Athlete A: gold.
Athlete B: gold.
This is all good and well, but knowing this, what does it tell us? Firstly, altitude training takes you to the top of the game as shown by both athletes winning gold medals within their respective sports. Secondly, neither athlete suffered from any injury or illness even though their training and living was conducted at altitude. And thirdly, all of the training was conducted in zones 1-3.
Now, we imagine, you’re beginning to think why all of the training we do at Trump Street is HIIT based and usually above zone 3 (apart from recovery). The benefits of HIIT training in hypoxia are extremely well known. Given the time commitment, continuous intensity and slightly less exciting format of the intensity in the lower zones, we find that exercising using intervals interspersed with short recovery periods leads to greater benefits for performance. Therefore, we offer an alternative to travelling outside of the UK for some altitude training, which can be completed with us in London. Take a look here for some of the sessions we run on a regular daily and weekly basis.
And also, if you’re training at altitude regularly, never let go of the Olympic dream…
Pugliese et al. (2014). Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, 13(3), 666.