New research (currently awaiting publication) has shown the additional benefits of undertaking repeated sprint training in hypoxia (RSH), compared to repeated sprint training in normoxia (RSN).
The study used a tennis specific time to exhaustion test (TEST) and the onset of blood lactate accumulation to assess physical fitness improvements, but also looked at technical components such as ball accuracy at 100% VO2 max.
The results of the study showed that the RSH group significantly improved across the board, with ~18% improvements in TEST performance, as well as a significant delay in the onset of blood lactate accumulation. The RSH group also showed significant improvements in ball accuracy at 100% VO2max!
So what does that mean in practical terms?
A delayed onset of blood lactate accumulation shows an increase in an athlete’s lactate threshold, meaning that they are able to perform ‘aerobically’ at higher intensities, and improvements in TEST performance show a significant improvement in tennis specific fitness. In short, they were able to run harder, for longer, without fatiguing! What’s especially exciting about this new research is that it shows how these improvements in players’ fitness translated into improved tennis skilled performance. When running at 100% of VO2max, ball accuracy improved 38% which means not only were the athletes able to chase down more balls thanks to their improved fitness, but were able to return them more accurately.
Take home message
All in all, if you are adding repeated sprint training in hypoxia to your programme, either by training in an altitude chamber or with a hypoxic generator, you can expect to see significant improvements in your physical performance on the court which also contributes to improved technical performance!
What’s the best part? The players were only subjected to 5 sessions over 12 days!
On the use of the repeated-sprint training in hypoxia in tennis (Brechbuhl et al., 2020)
For more information on the study, see here.