ALTITUDE TRAINING AND ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE Joe I. Vigil, Ph.D.
SUBJECTS Physiological Responses and Limitations of Altitude Training Potential Physiological Benefits of Altitude Training Current Practices and Trends in Altitude Training Recommendations and Guidelines
DETERMINATION OF BAROMETRIC PRESSURE PO2 = (PBAR – 47) 20.94 AT SEA LEVEL PO2 = (760 – 47) 713 20.94 PO2 = 149.30 Hg MM TRACHEAL
DETERMINATION OF BAROMETRIC PRESSURE, Cont’d. PO2 = (PBAR – 47) 20.94 AT ALTITUDE 7546’ (2300 METERS) PO2 = (575 – 47) 20.94 528 20.94 PO2 = 110.5 MM Hg TRACHEAL
DETERMINATION OF BAROMETRIC PRESSURE, Cont’d. COMPARISON 149.3 MM Hg AT SEA LEVEL 110.5 MM Hg AT 2300 METERS % DIFFERENCE 23 – 24%
DETERMINATION OF BAROMETRIC PRESSURE, Cont’d. RESULTS Less driving force of O2 across all biological membranes. As altitude increases, the PO2 in inspired air decreases creating a hypoxic stress which results in the domino effect.
THE DIFFERENTIAL GRADIENT The differential gradient is the difference between: PO2 – ARTERIES PO2 – CELLS PO2 ARTERIES – PO2 CELLS = PG
THE DIFFERENTIAL GRADIENT, Cont’d. SEA LEVEL PO2 ARTERIES = 94 MM Hg PO2 CELLS = 20 MM Hg PG = 74 MM Hg 2700 METERS PO2 ARTERIES = 60 MM Hg PO2 CELLS = 20 MM Hg PG = 40 MM Hg • Less driving force of O2 across biological • membrane at altitude.
POINTS TO CONSIDER WHEN ATTEMPTING ALTITUDE TRAINING Athletes that believe that altitude will enhance their sea level performance. Athletes that are free of injuries and disease. Overcome any problems you have before your trip to altitude.
POINTS TO CONSIDER WHEN ATTEMPTING ALTITUDE TRAINING, Cont’d. Have complete plan of expected outcomes while at altitude. Logistical Aspects Training Consideration Desired Psychological Adaptations and Outcomes Make sure you have coaching or advice from someone who understands the complexity of altitude training.
POINTS TO CONSIDER WHEN ATTEMPTING ALTITUDE TRAINING, Cont’d. Discuss the importance of Central Nervous System (CNS) Drive. Training trends being practiced today. Make sure the athlete understands where they are at in light of physiological variables: Pre-Altitude Post-Altitude This will influence repeat trips (or elimination of trips) to altitude.
POINTS TO CONSIDER WHEN ATTEMPTING ALTITUDE TRAINING, Cont’d. How soon after return to sea level should the athlete compete or resume sea level training?
WHY TRAIN AT ALTITUDE? For aerobic boost prior to high intensity training. For performance advantage in endurance events at sea level. For speed/coordination improvements. For aerobic fitness during and post injury. For quicker recovery between rounds of competition at sea level. For performance at altitude.
QUESTIONS TO BE ASKED What point in their training are they in? How close to competition are they? What is their objective for high altitude training? Development of Physiological Variables Preparation for Major Competition What type of athletes are they? Developmental Intermediate Elite
STAGES TO BE CONSIDERED *Strength Work / Circuitry / Bounding / Flexibility
ALTITUDE The following Table shows barometric pressure (standard atmosphere) at various altitudes and the pressure of oxygen after the inspired gas has been saturated with water vapor at 37 degrees Centigrade (Tracheal air).
ALTITUDE AND OXYGEN Sea Level 3100m 5800m Relationship between altitude and the partial pressure of oxygen in inspired air (PIO2), alveolar air (PAO2), arterial blood (PaO2) and venous blood (PvO2). 150PIO2 PAO2 PaO2 PvO2 100 50 0 Inspired Alveolar Arterial Venous B Air Air Blood Blood Adapted from Haymes and Wells, Environment and Human Performance, 1996. Partial Pressure of 0xge, mmHg
THE DOMINO EFFECT PO2 In Inspired Air PO2 In The Lungs PO2 In Arterial PO2 In Arterioles PO2 In Capillaries PO2 In Cells PO2 In Mitochondria Causing less O2 for aerobic metabolism which results in fewer ATPs for sustained muscular contraction.
OLYMPIC EVENTS COMPARISON Comparison of the % Decrement and Approximate Time Differential of Olympic Events Over 800 Meters
ALTITUDE PREPARATION – 42 DAYS Selected Factors of Altitude Training Using a Six-Week Period at Altitude 1ST WEEK 2ND WEEK 3RD WEEK 4TH WEEK 5TH WEEK 6TH WEEK 100 % 75% Volume 50% 25% General Strength Training Intensity
ALTITUDE PREPARATION – 42 DAYS, Cont’d. Main Points Athletic Strength Aerobic Endurance Aerobic Endurance Speed Anaerobic Endurance Regeneration 1st Phase 2nd Phase 3rd Phase Systematic Intensification
SYSTEMATIC INTENSIFICATION OF THE WORKOUT Types of Activity During the First and Second Training Pases of Acclimatization
SYSTEMATIC INTENSIFICATION OF THE WORKOUT, Cont’d. The second objective is a systematic intensification of the workout, with a goal to run the same intensity at altitude that one would run at sea level. Many experts in altitude training say this is not possible, however, one works toward this goal. The ability of adaptation always determines how close to maximum intensity the athlete can achieve.
Model For Structuring Training After Returning From Altitude Training And Prior To A Major Competition
Model For Structuring Training Over A 16-Week Period Includes two altitude camps, one prior to the national trials and one prior to the international championships
Model for Structuring Altitude Training Proposed by British Athletics Coach Frank Dick Training Load 11-14 Days RETURN TO SEA LEVEL 2 - 2.5 Weeks < PEAK P E A K
TRAINING CONSIDERATIONS AT ALTITUDE Heart rate-based intensities are not valid at altitude. Resting Heart Rate May Be Up 10% Max Heart Rate May Be Down 10% Recovery Heart Rate Pattern May Change Adjustment Requires Time – 5-7 Days Program Variables Reduce Aerobic Base Pace 10% Strength Training Unchanged Employ Shorter Intervals/Repeats Increase Rest Intervals – Up To 4x Repeated exposures help adaptations.
TRAINING CONSIDERATIONS AT ALTITUDE, Cont’d. Neither high volume/high intensity nor high lactate tolerance sessions should be used. Living high (2500-4000m) and training low (<1500m) may need to be considered. Not generally recommended for juniors or athletes less than 21 years old. A gradual intensification to equal sea level efforts after repeated visits to altitude or for prolonged stays of ten weeks or longer.
LOGISTICAL ASPECTS OF ALTITUDE TRAINING Planning of training program compatible with training venue and its facilities. Access to medical/athletic training personnel must be assured. Attention to nutritional considerations is important. Dining Facilities Micro-Nutrients Additional Fluid Intake
LOGISTICAL ASPECTS OF ALTITUDE TRAINING, Cont’d. Additional rest/recovery needs to be built into the schedule. Adjustment Periods Required Sleep Disturbances Afternoon Naps Training program must be flexible. Altitude Adjustment Varies Headaches Nosebleeds Needs for Additional Recovery
LOGISTICAL ASPECTS OF ALTITUDE TRAINING, Cont’d. Environmental Factors Fluid Intake Weather Conditions Ultra-Violet Radiation Recreational and relaxation activities need to be planned. Social Support
MODERATE ALTITUDE TRAINING • DESIRED PHYSIOLOGICAL ADAPTATIONS • Plasma Volume • Initially Depressed at Altitude – Up to 24% • Remains Depressed at Least One Week • Normal After 6 Days at Sea Level • (Dill, et al., 1974 / Wolfel, et al., 1991) 2,3 – DPG (Mariburl, et al., 1986) • Capillary Density • Capillary Per Cross Sectional Area • Capillary Per Fiber Ratio
MODERATE ALTITUDE TRAINING DESIRED PHYSIOLOGICAL ADAPTATIONS, Cont’d. Aerobic Enzymes (Oxidative Enzymes) (Terrados, 1992) Mitochondrial Number (Ou and Tenney, 1970) Mobilization of Free Fatty Acids and Glycogen Sparing (Brooks, et al., 1991) Accumulation of Lactate or Ammonia (Young, et al., 1982 & 1987)
MODERATE ALTITUDE TRAINING DESIRED PHYSIOLOGICAL ADAPTATIONS, Cont’d. In Myoglobin With Simulated Altitude Training (Terrados, 1990) In Glycolytic Activity (Not Glycolytic Concentration) (Terrados, 1990) Protein Synthesis – Especially >4000m Buffering Capacity of Skeletal Muscle
MODERATE ALTITUDE TRAINING DESIRED PHYSIOLOGICAL ADAPTATIONS, Cont’d. Glycolytic Enzymes – LDH and PFK (Terrados, 1992) Aerobic Power and Performance (Kanstrup and Ekbloom, 1984)
RELATED READING Dick, F.W., “Training at Altitude in Practice,” International Journal of Sports Medicine, 13 (Supp): 203-205, 1992. Levine, B. D. and J. Stray-Gundersen, “A Practical Approach to Altitude Training: Where to Live and Train for Optimal Performance Enhancement,” International Journal of Sports Medicine (Supp 1): S 209-212, 1992. Berglund, B., “High Altitude Training: Aspects of Hematological Adaptation,” Sports Medicine 14 (5): 289-303, 1992.