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Altitude Training: Working towards your next team goal

July 31, 2019
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Many believe that altitude training is only for the elite sports person – the best of the best. It’s only reserved for those who have really made it into the near-superhuman realm of professional sports, surely? Well, this could not be more wrong! 

With growing awareness for the importance of personal health and well-being worldwide, more and more people are signing up to corporate team events, international sportives and marathons, setting out each year to beat personal records and conquer bucket list events. Add to this the rising popularity of outdoor adventures, with mounting interests in mountaineering expeditions (pun certainly intended!) altitude training has never been more relevant. 

So how can altitude training help your team prepare for their next event, whatever it may be?

Simulated altitude training at The Altitude Centre is achieved through reducing the oxygen percentage in the air that you breathe from what normally is 20.9% to 15%, which places you at roughly 2700m – the height of many alpine ski resorts for comparison – and over twice the height of Ben Nevis.

When you first step into the low-oxygenated chamber, you won’t suddenly start feeling faint like many people expect. You might not necessarily notice any differences either, but don’t be fooled. There are certainly changes happening in your body, which are reflected in metrics such as your SpO2 (the available oxygen in the blood) and your heart rate (a simple measure of how hard you are working during exercise).

Typically, your SpO2 – the percentage of red blood cells in your body fully saturated with oxygen - will desaturate to around 80-85% when training at altitude. This is what we call the ‘adaptation zone’. The body is under enough metabolic stress to develop efficient oxygen systems, in order to reach the increasing demands of energy output. 

Over time, your body will start adapting in a number of ways:

1. Your red blood cell count will increase following an increase in your EPO when you have more than 7 hours of altitude exposure per day

              a) Primarily gained through sleeping at altitude in one of our Hypoxic Sleep Tents

2. Your lungs will adapt to increase the speed at which oxygen gets into your body.

3. Your cardiovascular system will develop to ensure enough oxygenated blood gets to your muscles.

4. Your muscles will develop more powerful mitochondria to process this extra oxygen into energy.

So now that you have taken up altitude training, and you are more oxygen efficient, how does that translate into performance gains?

By improving your oxygen efficiency, the pace or power output that normally would have sent your heart rate sky-rocketing, becomes easier and easier to maintain. In simple terms, we are getting fitter, faster! 

Essentially, your body becomes accustomed to doing ‘more work, with less oxygen’, and when you return back to sea level and top up with that extra 6% of oxygen you were missing whilst you trained, you can go further, faster and/or for longer. 

The best thing about all of this is that, for you and I, the potential for improvement is much greater. For the elites such as Mo Farah, Bradley Wiggins, the Brownlee brothers and more, they are looking for marginal gains.

If it is good enough for those guys, it’s good enough for me!  See how team based events can benefit your workforce. The 3 peaks challenge, London to Paris ride or even a local 10km are great places to start in bringing the team together. GoSweat are excited to launch with The Altitude Centre and make group training even easier.

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Nina’s sporting background started early, enjoying individual sports before eventually progressing to team based sports as she got older. Trying a variety of sports along the way, (ranging from gymnastics to muay thai), Nina found her heart became set on volleyball. Having got into Loughborough University, Nina dabbled in several other sports such as MMA and touch rugby before eventually settling back into Volleyball and going on to win the BUCS volleyball finals in her first year – some achievement! Nina is looking forward to seeing how altitude training can help push her performance even further! Greatest/Proudest Sporting Achievement: Winning the Volleyball BUCS National Championships as a first year! Challenging adventures at altitude: Hiking up and snowboarding down Les Deux Alpes (3700m)

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