How to make the most of a high-altitude training room

Physiologically there are some great benefits to training in, what is known as, an altitude room. Many top athletes use altitude rooms to improve their cardiovascular performance and overall fitness, however you too can benefit from this new innovation in fitness.

What is an altitude room?

The air we breathe is made up of oxygen and nitrogen, however at higher altitude oxygen molecules are further apart thus making the air feel thinner.

To use an example, Durban is 8 metres above sea level and Sani Pass is 2876 metres above sea level and the higher above sea level you go, the thinner the air becomes. An altitude room is a room which has controlled amounts of nitrogen pumped into it to simulate an environment at high altitude.

 

What are the physiological benefits of training in an altitude room?

It has been observed that athletes who do most of their training at higher altitude generally have better fitness. This is because there is less oxygen in the air, and therefore less oxygen in the blood. If there are lower levels of oxygen in the blood, the heart has to work harder to supply oxygenated blood to the muscles and organs. Over time, a body will adapt to this and become better at using oxygen for its needs. Athletes who train at high altitude have an advantage when they compete at sea level or a lower altitude as their bodies find the abundance of oxygen molecules has positive effects on their performance. Initially a body will increase ventilation at higher altitude but after some time it will acclimate. This acclimation results in an increase of the blood protein which carries oxygen and also an increase in the number of blood vessels to muscle mass. The same thing happens when you train in an altitude room – your body will eventually acclimate and with that comes a host of other physical benefits.

 

Who should use an altitude room?

Virtually anybody can use an altitude room given that they have medical permission to do so. Altitude training is suited to a range of disciplines from running to cycling. One of the newer innovations combines the benefits of training in an altitude room and cycling on a stationary bike- this is known as Watt training. In this instance, participants increase and decrease the intensity of their training by the monitoring how many watts they produce. Many trekkers and mountaineers use altitude rooms to ready them for their climbs. Although an altitude room may not be able to simulate the exact conditions of a climb, it can help by enhancing cardiovascular fitness.

Any good altitude training programme would focus on training at altitude throughout the programme, but not every day, and then taper off towards the end of the programme.

 

The benefits of altitude training needn’t be limited to athletes. Gold Coast Estate has its very own altitude room within the estate, which can be used for a variety of training disciplines depending on what your goals are

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