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,'...
Must See
Dwyane Wade Leads by Example Dwyane Wade Leads by Example
Views: 6,918,864
Antonio Brown Juggles 3 Footballs Antonio Brown Juggles 3 Footballs
Views: 1,206,878
Dashon Goldson: Dashon Goldson: "You Just Gotta Have Heart"
Views: 5,108,955

Featured Videos

Real Workouts: Randall Cobb Real Workouts: Randall Cobb Views: 20,496
Greg Nixon's Full-Body Dumbbell Circuit Greg Nixon's Full-Body Dumbbell Circuit Views: 317,829
SEALFIT: Pushing the Limits of What Athletes Are Capable Of SEALFIT: Pushing the Limits of What Athletes Are Capable Of Views: 58,814
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

Derrick Rose Explains How He Stays Positive Derrick Rose Explains How He Stays Positive
Views: 6,105,983
Allyson Felix Explains How To Choose a Coach Allyson Felix Explains How To Choose a Coach
Views: 8,690,942
Dustin Pedroia on Training Dustin Pedroia on Training
Views: 10,919,972
Charging Ground Balls With Skip Schumaker Charging Ground Balls With Skip Schumaker
Views: 29,938
Yoga for Athletes: Crow Pose Yoga for Athletes: Crow Pose
Views: 3,539,467

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
The Mount Everest Treadmill Challenge

The Mount Everest Treadmill Challenge

Win the Fourth Quarter With These Basketball Sled Push Finishers

Win the Fourth Quarter With These Basketball Sled Push Finishers

4 HIIT Workouts That Will Get You in Shape Fast

4 HIIT Workouts That Will Get You in Shape Fast

Understanding the Benefits and Risks of Altitude Training

Understanding the Benefits and Risks of Altitude Training

Get in Shape With 5 Intense Lower-Body Finishers

Get in Shape With 5 Intense Lower-Body Finishers

Get in Football Shape Fast With Metabolic Runs

Get in Football Shape Fast With Metabolic Runs

Adeline Gray Is Going for Gold

Adeline Gray Is Going for Gold

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

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

ZSeries 10-Minute Workouts: The Hill

ZSeries 10-Minute Workouts: The Hill

ZSeries 10-Minute Workouts: Interval Sprints

ZSeries 10-Minute Workouts: Interval Sprints

STACK Challenge: Finish Strong

STACK Challenge: Finish Strong

ZSeries 10-Minute Workouts: Fartlek Run

ZSeries 10-Minute Workouts: Fartlek Run

Who Invented the Burpee?

Who Invented the Burpee?

Can You Handle the Husker Toughness Test?

Can You Handle the Husker Toughness Test?

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

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

Obstacle Race Training: Get in Shape With This Finisher

Obstacle Race Training: Get in Shape With This Finisher

Improve Your Aerobic Fitness in the Off-Season

Improve Your Aerobic Fitness in the Off-Season

Get in Shape With This Basketball Conditioning Workout

Get in Shape With This Basketball Conditioning Workout

Get in Game Shape With 4 Conditioning Combos

Get in Game Shape With 4 Conditioning Combos

STACK Challenge: 500-Meter Row

STACK Challenge: 500-Meter Row

Baseball Conditioning: Why You Need an Aerobic Base

Baseball Conditioning: Why You Need an Aerobic Base

How to Build Soccer-Specific Conditioning

How to Build Soccer-Specific Conditioning

Training with the Elevation Training Mask 2.0

Training with the Elevation Training Mask 2.0

Can You Survive the 100 Bears Challenge?

Can You Survive the

4 Simple Drills to Improve Your Endurance

4 Simple Drills to Improve Your Endurance

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

In-Season Baseball Pitcher Workout Program

In-Season Baseball Pitcher Workout Program

STACK Challenge: The 10/10 Treadmill Challenge

STACK Challenge: The 10/10 Treadmill Challenge

WATCH: Ronda Rousey's Intense New Bag Drill

WATCH: Ronda Rousey's Intense New Bag Drill

Advanced High School Football Summer Conditioning Program

Advanced High School Football Summer Conditioning Program

How Sporting Kansas City Stays 'Sporting Fit'

How Sporting Kansas City Stays 'Sporting Fit'

5 NBA Players Who Found Their Game After Losing Weight

5 NBA Players Who Found Their Game After Losing Weight

LaTroy Hawkins' Epic Battle Ropes Workout

LaTroy Hawkins' Epic Battle Ropes Workout

Test Your Toughness With the Who Dat? Challenge

Test Your Toughness With the Who Dat? Challenge

How Much Conditioning Do You Really Need?

How Much Conditioning Do You Really Need?

How to Avoid Hockey Conditioning That Slows You Down

How to Avoid Hockey Conditioning That Slows You Down

LeBron James's Insane Conditioning Drill

LeBron James's Insane Conditioning Drill

Off-Season Conditioning: Full-Body Med Ball Workout

Off-Season Conditioning: Full-Body Med Ball Workout

In Defense of Cardio

In Defense of Cardio

Alternatives to Boring Cardio Training

Alternatives to Boring Cardio Training

5 Brutal Sprint Drills That Push the Lactic Threshold

5 Brutal Sprint Drills That Push the Lactic Threshold

Get in Basketball Shape With the Right Workout

Get in Basketball Shape With the Right Workout

7 Footwork Drills That Give You an Advantage

7 Footwork Drills That Give You an Advantage

Prepare for Your Season With These Conditioning Drills

Prepare for Your Season With These Conditioning Drills

Can You Pass Drew Brees' Conditioning Test?

Can You Pass Drew Brees' Conditioning Test?

YardBarker