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The Effects of Altitude Training on Athletic Performance

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Altitude training has become increasingly popular among athletes looking to improve their performance. Training at high altitudes is believed to enhance oxygen-carrying capacity, increase red blood cell count, and improve overall endurance.

In this article, we’ll explore the effects of altitude training on athletic performance and whether it’s worth incorporating into your training regimen.

What is Altitude Training?

Altitude training involves training at elevations of 6,000 feet (1,800 meters) or higher. At higher elevations, the air pressure decreases, resulting in lower oxygen levels. This forces the body to work harder to obtain the oxygen it needs, which can lead to improvements in aerobic capacity and endurance.

There are two main types of altitude training:

Live-High, Train-High – This type of altitude training involves living and training at high elevations. This allows the body to adapt to the lower oxygen levels, resulting in increased red blood cell count and improved oxygen-carrying capacity.

Live-High, Train-Low – This type of altitude training involves living at high elevations but training at lower elevations. This allows the body to adapt to the lower oxygen levels while still allowing for high-intensity training at lower elevations.

Effects on Athletic Performance

Altitude training is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and its effectiveness can vary depending on the individual. Some athletes may respond better to altitude training than others, and some may not see any benefits at all. Additionally, the optimal altitude for altitude training can vary depending on the athlete’s sport and training goals.

For example, endurance athletes may benefit from training at higher altitudes, while sprinters may see more benefits from training at lower altitudes. Therefore, it’s important for athletes to work with a qualified coach or trainer to determine the best altitude training program for their individual needs.

Altitude training has been shown to have several positive effects on athletic performance:

  • Increased Aerobic Capacity – Altitude training stimulates the production of erythropoietin (EPO), a hormone that stimulates the production of red blood cells. This leads to an increase in oxygen-carrying capacity, resulting in improved endurance and aerobic capacity.
  • Improved Oxygen Utilization – Altitude training also improves the body’s ability to use oxygen. This is because the body adapts to the lower oxygen levels by becoming more efficient at using the oxygen it has available.
  • Improved Speed – Altitude training can also lead to improvements in speed. This is because the adaptations that occur during altitude training can lead to improvements in overall cardiovascular fitness, allowing athletes to perform at higher intensities for longer periods of time.
  • Enhanced Recovery – Altitude training has also been shown to enhance recovery. This is because the adaptations that occur during altitude training can improve the body’s ability to recover from high-intensity exercise.

Potential Drawbacks

While altitude training has many potential benefits, it’s important to consider the potential drawbacks as well:

  • Altitude Sickness – Altitude training can lead to altitude sickness, which can cause headaches, nausea, and other symptoms. This can be especially problematic for athletes who need to perform at their best.
  • Reduced Training Intensity – Training at high altitudes can be more difficult than training at lower elevations, which can lead to a reduction in training intensity.
  • Time and Cost – Altitude training can be expensive and time-consuming, as it often requires traveling to high elevations and staying there for several weeks.


Altitude training can be an effective tool for improving athletic performance. By increasing aerobic capacity, improving oxygen utilization, and enhancing recovery, altitude training can help athletes perform at their best. However, it’s important to consider the potential drawbacks, such as altitude sickness and reduced training intensity.

If you’re considering altitude training, be sure to consult with a healthcare professional and consider the costs and time commitments involved. With careful planning and preparation, altitude training can be a valuable addition to your training regimen.

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