Influence of altitude training modality on performance and total haemoglobin mass in elite swimmers

Department of Physiology, Australian Institute of Sport, PO Box 176, Belconnen, Canberra, ACT, 2616, Australia.
Arbeitsphysiologie (Impact Factor: 2.3). 01/2012; 112(9):3275-85. DOI: 10.1007/s00421-011-2291-7
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT We compared changes in performance and total haemoglobin mass (tHb) of elite swimmers in the weeks following either Classic or Live High:Train Low (LHTL) altitude training. Twenty-six elite swimmers (15 male, 11 female, 21.4 ± 2.7 years; mean ± SD) were divided into two groups for 3 weeks of either Classic or LHTL altitude training. Swimming performances over 100 or 200 m were assessed before altitude, then 1, 7, 14 and 28 days after returning to sea-level. Total haemoglobin mass was measured twice before altitude, then 1 and 14 days after return to sea-level. Changes in swimming performance in the first week after Classic and LHTL were compared against those of Race Control (n = 11), a group of elite swimmers who did not complete altitude training. In addition, a season-long comparison of swimming performance between altitude and non-altitude groups was undertaken to compare the progression of performances over the course of a competitive season. Regardless of altitude training modality, swimming performances were substantially slower 1 day (Classic 1.4 ± 1.3% and LHTL 1.6 ± 1.6%; mean ± 90% confidence limits) and 7 days (0.9 ± 1.0% and 1.9 ± 1.1%) after altitude compared to Race Control. In both groups, performances 14 and 28 days after altitude were not different from pre-altitude. The season-long comparison indicated that no clear advantage was obtained by swimmers who completed altitude training. Both Classic and LHTL elicited ~4% increases in tHb. Although altitude training induced erythropoeisis, this physiological adaptation did not transfer directly into improved competitive performance in elite swimmers.


Available from: David B Pyne, Jun 15, 2015
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    ABSTRACT: Objective To characterise the time course of changes in haemoglobin mass (Hbmass) in response to altitude exposure. Methods This meta-analysis uses raw data from 17 studies that used carbon monoxide rebreathing to determine Hbmass prealtitude, during altitude and postaltitude. Seven studies were classic altitude training, eight were live high train low (LHTL) and two mixed classic and LHTL. Separate linear-mixed models were fitted to the data from the 17 studies and the resultant estimates of the effects of altitude used in a random effects meta-analysis to obtain an overall estimate of the effect of altitude, with separate analyses during altitude and postaltitude. In addition, within-subject differences from the prealtitude phase for altitude participant and all the data on control participants were used to estimate the analytical SD. The ‘true’ between-subject response to altitude was estimated from the within-subject differences on altitude participants, between the prealtitude and during-altitude phases, together with the estimated analytical SD. Results During-altitude Hbmass was estimated to increase by ∼1.1%/100 h for LHTL and classic altitude. Postaltitude Hbmass was estimated to be 3.3% higher than prealtitude values for up to 20 days. The within-subject SD was constant at ∼2% for up to 7 days between observations, indicative of analytical error. A 95% prediction interval for the ‘true’ response of an athlete exposed to 300 h of altitude was estimated to be 1.1–6%. Conclusions Camps as short as 2 weeks of classic and LHTL altitude will quite likely increase Hbmass and most athletes can expect benefit.
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    ABSTRACT: We investigated the changes in both performance and selected physiological parameters following a Live High-Train Low (LHTL) altitude camp in either normobaric hypoxia (NH) or hypobaric hypoxia (HH) replicating current "real" practices of endurance athletes. Well-trained triathletes were split into two groups (NH, n = 14 and HH, n = 13) and completed an 18-d LHTL camp during which they trained at 1100-1200 m and resided at an altitude of 2250 m (PiO2 = 121.7+/-1.2 vs. 121.4+/-0.9 mmHg) under either NH (hypoxic chamber; FiO2 15.8+/-0.8%) or HH (real altitude; barometric pressure 580+/-23 mmHg) conditions. Oxygen saturations (SpO2) were recorded continuously daily overnight. PiO2 and training loads were matched daily. Before (Pre-) and 1 day after (Post-) LHTL, blood samples, VO2max, and total haemoglobin mass (Hbmass) were measured. A 3-km running test was performed near sea level twice before, and 1, 7, and 21 days following LHTL. During LHTL, hypoxic exposure was lower for the NH group than for the HH group (220 vs. 300 h; P<0.001). Night SpO2 was higher (92.1+/-0.3 vs. 90.9+/-0.3%, P<0.001), and breathing frequency was lower in the NH group compared with the HH group (13.9+/-2.1 vs. 15.5+/-1.5 breath.min-1, P<0.05). Immediately following LHTL, similar increases in VO2max (6.1+/-6.8 vs. 5.2+/-4.8%) and Hbmass (2.6+/-1.9 vs. 3.4+/-2.1%) were observed in NH and HH groups, respectively, while 3-km performance was not improved. However, 21 days following the LHTL intervention, 3-km run time was significantly faster in the HH (3.3+/-3.6%; P<0.05) versus the NH (1.2+/-2.9%; ns) group. In conclusion, the greater degree of race performance enhancement by day 21 after an 18-d LHTL camp in the HH group was likely induced by a larger hypoxic dose. However, one cannot rule out other factors including differences in sleeping desaturations and breathing patterns, thus suggesting higher hypoxic stimuli in the HH group.
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