Improve Your Performance By Training at the Perfect Altitude

December 23, 2013

Must See Conditioning Videos

Everyone knows that living at a high altitude can increase your athletic performance, right? But what if someone asked you, “well, what’s the best altitude to live at?” You might be stumped. That was the question a group of researchers set out to answer when they flew 48 collegiate distance runners (32 males, 16 females) from Dallas to one of four training camps near Salt Lake City. Their research was published online in the Journal Of Applied Physiology.

Before they flew the athletes to Utah, researchers from the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine at Texas Health Resources, the UT Southwestern Medical Center, and the USA Ski and Snowboard Association tested their speed in a 3K run. They also tested the athletes' 3K times after two weeks of training in Dallas, 48 hours after returning from Salt Lake City and two weeks after returning to sea level (Dallas).

When the athletes arrived in Salt Lake City, they were assigned to live at four different altitudes: 1,780 meters, 2,085 meters, 2,454 meters and 2,800 meters.  Once each day, the athletes gathered to train at an altitude between 1,250 and 1,300 meters, then returned to their living altitude. This happened every day for a month, after which the athletes returned to Dallas.

When the runners performed their first 3K test after returning to sea level, the group who lived at 2,085 meters notched an approximate 2-percent improvement over their control test, while the group living at 2,454 meters recorded approximately a 3-percent improvement. The groups that trained at 1,780 meters and 2,800 meters, on the other hand, both showed performance improvements of less than 1 percent.

When all four groups tested their 3K performance two weeks after returning to Dallas, the athletes who had lived in the middle altitudes again performed best, registering times that were approximately 2 percent faster than their original tests. The group at the highest altitude again tested 1 percent lower than their baseline. The group that trained at the bottom altitude actually registered times that were approximately 1 percent worse than their control run.

"These data suggest that when completing an altitude training camp, there is an optimal living altitude for producing improvements in sea level performance," the researchers said in a press release. "For the athlete engaged in altitude training, the identification of an optimal living altitude holds tremendous practical application."

Now, if you don’t live at the base of a small mountain, you have two options, one likely and one unlikely. Option 1 is to move further up the mountain. That’s probably not going to happen. Option 2 is to invest in an altitude mask, which mimics the effects of living at elevation. If you were to follow the guidelines here, you’d set the elevation mask to between 2,000 and 2,500 meters during low to moderate exercise and then reduce it to an elevation between 1,250 and 1,300 meters during intense exercise.

And before you scoff, consider how massive a 3 percent improvement in your speed could be when you reach the elite level. It might make wearing that mask a bit more bearable.

Read more:

Topics: NEWS
Sam DeHority
- Sam DeHority is an Associate Editor at STACK Media. He was previously a member of the editorial staffs at 'Men’s Fitness' and 'Muscle & Fitness,'...
Sam DeHority
- Sam DeHority is an Associate Editor at STACK Media. He was previously a member of the editorial staffs at 'Men’s Fitness' and 'Muscle & Fitness,'...

Featured Videos

Tim Tebow's NFL Off-Season Workout Tim Tebow's NFL Off-Season Workout Views: 152,830
Path to the Pros 2015: Trae Waynes Path to the Pros 2015: Trae Waynes Views: 80,325
Path to the Pros 2015: Marcus Mariota Path to the Pros 2015: Marcus Mariota Views: 1,268,862
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds
Views: 43,536,765
Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied
Views: 12,117,693
Colin Kaepernick's Core Workout Colin Kaepernick's Core Workout
Views: 895,904
Robert Griffin III Pocket Presence QB Drill Robert Griffin III Pocket Presence QB Drill
Views: 6,866,240
Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill
Views: 9,501,332

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
Get in Shape Fast With Todd Durkin's 5 Intense Workout Finishers

Get in Shape Fast With Todd Durkin's 5 Intense Workout Finishers

Can You Handle the Husker Toughness Test?

Can You Handle the Husker Toughness Test?

LaTroy Hawkins' Epic Battle Ropes Workout

LaTroy Hawkins' Epic Battle Ropes Workout

Improve Your Aerobic Fitness in the Off-Season

Improve Your Aerobic Fitness in the Off-Season

7 Footwork Drills That Give You an Advantage

7 Footwork Drills That Give You an Advantage

Get in Shape With 5 Intense Lower-Body Finishers

Get in Shape With 5 Intense Lower-Body Finishers

Baseball Conditioning: Why You Need an Aerobic Base

Baseball Conditioning: Why You Need an Aerobic Base

How to Avoid Hockey Conditioning That Slows You Down

How to Avoid Hockey Conditioning That Slows You Down

ZSeries 10-Minute Workouts: Fartlek Run

ZSeries 10-Minute Workouts: Fartlek Run

Win the Fourth Quarter With These Basketball Sled Push Finishers

Win the Fourth Quarter With These Basketball Sled Push Finishers

Off-Season Conditioning: Full-Body Med Ball Workout

Off-Season Conditioning: Full-Body Med Ball Workout

Alternatives to Boring Cardio Training

Alternatives to Boring Cardio Training

Can You Survive the ‘100 Bears’ Challenge?

Can You Survive the '100 Bears' Challenge?

4 Simple Drills to Improve Your Endurance

4 Simple Drills to Improve Your Endurance

Prepare for Your Season With These Conditioning Drills

Prepare for Your Season With These Conditioning Drills

ZSeries 10-Minute Workouts: Interval Sprints

ZSeries 10-Minute Workouts: Interval Sprints

Training with the Elevation Training Mask 2.0

Training with the Elevation Training Mask 2.0

Get in Basketball Shape With the Right Workout

Get in Basketball Shape With the Right Workout

LeBron James's Insane Conditioning Drill

LeBron James's Insane Conditioning Drill

High-Intensity Interval Training: How Much Is Too Much?

High-Intensity Interval Training: How Much Is Too Much?

Who Invented the Burpee?

Who Invented the Burpee?

4 HIIT Workouts That Will Get You in Shape Fast

4 HIIT Workouts That Will Get You in Shape Fast

A Slo-Mo Must-See: Ike Taylor's 4-Man Battle Rope Squats

A Slo-Mo Must-See: Ike Taylor's 4-Man Battle Rope Squats

Test Your Toughness With the Who Dat? Challenge

Test Your Toughness With the Who Dat? Challenge

5 Brutal Sprint Drills That Push the Lactic Threshold

5 Brutal Sprint Drills That Push the Lactic Threshold

Get in Shape With This Basketball Conditioning Workout

Get in Shape With This Basketball Conditioning Workout

5 NBA Players Who Found Their Game After Losing Weight

5 NBA Players Who Found Their Game After Losing Weight

STACK Challenge: Finish Strong

STACK Challenge: Finish Strong

How to Build Soccer-Specific Conditioning

How to Build Soccer-Specific Conditioning

The Mount Everest Treadmill Challenge

The Mount Everest Treadmill Challenge

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Trail Running

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Trail Running

ZSeries 10-Minute Workouts: The Hill

ZSeries 10-Minute Workouts: The Hill

Obstacle Race Training: Get in Shape With This Finisher

Obstacle Race Training: Get in Shape With This Finisher

STACK Challenge: 500-Meter Row

STACK Challenge: 500-Meter Row

Football Players: 2-Week Crash Course in Football Conditioning

Football Players: 2-Week Crash Course in Football Conditioning

Adeline Gray Is Going for Gold

Adeline Gray Is Going for Gold

Why Better Conditioned Athletes Have Fewer Injuries

Why Better Conditioned Athletes Have Fewer Injuries

WATCH: Ronda Rousey's Intense New Bag Drill

WATCH: Ronda Rousey's Intense New Bag Drill

Are High-Intensity Workouts Making You Fat?

Are High-Intensity Workouts Making You Fat?

Get in Football Shape Fast With Metabolic Runs

Get in Football Shape Fast With Metabolic Runs

YardBarker