If you are trying to get back into shape or in better shape, altitude training could give you the kick start you need to get your body back in shape fast! This trick has been used by professional athletes for years, yet the general public overlooks it as a way to get their general fitness back in a hurry.
Benefits of Altitude Training
- Training at higher altitudes means that your body is in a lower oxygen atmosphere. Once in this type of atmosphere, your body must work harder to breath and fuel muscles. Over time, the body produces more red blood cells which deliver oxygen to the muscles. When placed back in the normal environment the body’s endurance is increased and lactic acid build up is decreased. This means you can work out longer, harder, and burn more calories when back at sea level!!! Who doesn’t want that?!
- “The body naturally produces a hormone called erythropoetin (EPO) which stimulates the production of red blood cells which carry oxygen to the muscles. Up to a point, the more blood cells you have, the more oxygen you can deliver to your muscles. There are also a number of other changes that happen during acclimatisation which may help athletic performance, including an increase in the number of small blood vessels, an increase in buffering capacity (ability to manage the build up of waste acid) and changes in the microscopic structure and function of the muscles themselves (source).”
The Break Down – How to Add Altitude Training Into Your Week
- Find a hiking or biking trail for you to use that’s at a higher elevation then you currently live and function on a daily basis.
- You can do any kind of training at the higher altitude. If you are trying to get back into shape, I would suggest something that allows you to pace yourself, such as hiking.
- Use the altitude training 2 – 3 days per week.
- Track and measure your time while doing your altitude training. You should notice that as you get better with your higher elevation training, your regular training becomes SO MUCH easier!
Additional Tips While Doing Altitude Training
- Diet – A high carbohydrate, low salt diet allows for better adaptation and less risk of “mountain sickness”. Some people experience significant decline in appetite and the resulting loss of muscle mass may hinder performance. Iron is used to make hemoglobin and the demand for making more red blood cells may require iron supplementation — especially in women and vegetarians. Megadoses of vitamins are not helpful and are potentially dangerous.
- Fluids – Because mountain air is cool and dry you can lose a lot of water so be sure to maintain adequate hydration.
- Alcohol – It is best to avoid alcohol consumption during the acclimatization period since it appears to increase the risk of “mountain sickness”