CrossFit, Hyrox, National Fitness Games, F45…whatever your slant on functional fitness, there is no denying that the space has grown exponentially in the past few years, and with that, the number of people looking to push themselves to ever higher standards in competitions. Over the years, we’ve had numerous functional fitness athletes use altitude training, either as an accessory to their functional fitness training, or actually completing their WOD at altitude to get the most from their workout. It’s been hugely successful, with one athlete going as far as to say it was his ‘secret weapon’ for his MetCons and anything stamina or endurance related.
We were joined on our latest altitude training camp by our very own competitive CrossFit athlete. Here, we dive into some of his data to look at how 6 weeks of altitude training influenced his performance levels.
What Did We Do?
As a quick reminder, our altitude camp is a 6 week training camp in which participants have unlimited access to our altitude chamber for bike and treadmill classes, circuit sessions and solos, as well as to our altitude POD for high altitude exposure to enhance rest, recovery and altitude gains. Our athlete completed 9 HypoxicHIIT sessions (bike or run) and 4 circuit classes, as well as 7 POD sessions over 6 weeks, visiting The Altitude Centre between 2-3 times per week alongside daily CrossFit training. Before and after the training block, we put him through his paces with our Power Profile; an all around assessment of endurance and anaerobic performance, designed to create a full fitness profile for any athlete.
What Were The Results?
In short, very encouraging. Functional threshold power (a measure of endurance) increased 10%, going from 230 W at 2.19 W/kg at baseline, to 252 W at 2.4 W/kg 6 weeks later, demonstrating significant improvements in work capacity in a very short space of time. Not only endurance, but anaerobic capacity improved too, with the average power output for a 3 min max effort on the bike improving 15% from 344 W to 397 W, and peak power increasing 41% from 964 W to 1360 W perhaps the most remarkable improvement across the 6 weeks.
These data back the research which consistently demonstrates improvements of around 7-10% in endurance, with similar increases in measures of anaerobic capacity across 4-6 weeks.
The exciting thing as far as functional fitness goes is that these improvements came when training was slotted alongside the pre-existing functional fitness plan, meaning that the skills and specific training required for competition was in no way compromised. The athlete from this case study trained in the chamber here at The Altitude Centre in London, but we have had a number of athletes looking to implement altitude training at home. This is made possible by portable hypoxic generators, which create a high altitude environment for you to train in within the comfort of your own home – whether using a home treadmill, turbo trainer, or even carrying out weighted workouts. Home systems can also open up the additional possibility of sleeping at altitude, which some would consider the gold standard to improve endurance performance.
With intense training blocks taking the focus ahead of Hyrox games across the UK, National Fitness Games, and other competition across the next few months, eeking out a few extra percent is a big win, let alone the sorts of improvements seen here with the help of altitude training. As we head into competition season, we will be keeping tabs on our functional fitness athletes, and be sure to update you on their hypoxia assisted progress!