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.

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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.

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