ADAPTATIONS OCCUR AT LOW ALTITUDES IN TRAINED ATHLETES
Ebert, T. R., Brothers, M. D., Nelson, J. L., Flyget, N., Martin, D. T., West, G. M., & Gore, C. J. (2011). Effects of moderate altitude training on total hemoglobin mass and hematology in world class sprint cyclists. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 43(5). Supplement abstract 1382.
This study quantified the hematological response of sprint cyclists to four weeks of moderate altitude training (1,861 m). The Australian Track Sprint Cycling Team (M = 4; F = 3) completed a 28-day training camp at 1,861 m. Ss' hemoglobin concentration and hematocrit were measured pre-departure and on day 25 at altitude, while body composition and total hemoglobin were determined on days 4 and 25 of the camp. Ss completed track training involving maximal efforts over distances ranging from 50 to 750 m (~27 hours total), weight training (~16 hours total), road rides (~18 hours total), and cycle ergometer sessions (~2 hours total).
There was a ~4.5% increase in total hemoglobin, a ~7.81% increase in hemoglobin concentration, and ~9.2% increase in hematocrit. Changes in ferritin, blood volume, and plasma volume were not significant. Only one cyclist used oral iron supplements. There was ~1 kg decrease in body mass without a significant change in the sum of seven skinfolds.
Implication. This study challenged the recommendation that ~2,200 m is the minimal altitude required to increase total hemoglobin. Significant gains in total hemoglobin (~5% in four weeks) can occur in sprint cyclists who complete low-volume high-intensity training at 1,861 m.
Return to Table of Contents for this issue.