Altitude training – what is the optimal living altitude?

Winter and ski season is approaching, and thousands of people interested in winter sports will follow the contests from now until April, with Olympic Games in Sotsji as the great highlight. Even though this is not an alternative for every-day exercise performers, it is well-known that our medal hopes include altitude training to reach the top. But what is the best way to train in the height? And which altitude is the optimal for best results ion aerobic performance?

utah1A new publication in the Journal of Applied Physiology adresses these questions. How high should athletes live during an altitude training camp to improve sea level running performance? In the study, 48 collegian long distance runners spent 4 weeks at an altitude training camp in the mountain area around Park City, Utah in the United States. The runners were randomly divided to live at 4 different locations in the mountains, at 1780m, 2085m, 2454m, or 2800m and trained together after the live high – train low model (Live and train moderately at high altitude, and travel down as low as possible to perform high intensity work outs. In this case to 1300 meter in Salt Lake City, Utah).

When comparing the results in the different groups, it was found that a living altitude between 2000 and 2500 meter gave the greates improvements in sea level performance. In other words, this should be the preferred height for athletes at altitude training camps.

utah2The study was run by Professor Benjamin Levine and Dr. James Stray Gundersen from the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, and CERGs Trine Karlsen were one of many research fellows working on the study. 

 

Trine Karlsen, post doc at CERG