Lecoultre, V., Tappy, L., Schneiter, P. H., & Schutz, Y. (2009). Effect of high-intensity training in hypoxia on cycling performance and lactate metabolism. A paper presented at the 14th Annual Congress of the European College of Sport Science, Oslo, Norway, June 24-27.

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"Living and training at low altitude and adding some key training sessions in hypoxia (Live Low Train High (LLTH)) may be considered as an effective way of using altitude as a training stimulus for endurance athletes. It has also been shown to be effective in improving glucose tolerance in untrained individuals. However, its effects on performance are debated."

This study hypothesized that four weeks of live-low/train-high would increase more endurance performance and lactate turnover rate in well-trained cyclists (N = 14) than the same training regimen performed in normoxia. Ss replaced part of their weekly training schedule with three sessions performed in normobaric hypoxia (~3,000 m) or normoxia over four weeks. Before and after the training period, endurance performance was assessed during incremental tests performed in normoxia and hypoxia and a 40-km time-trial performed in normoxia. Lactate and glucose turnover rates were measured by means of stable isotope tracer infusion.

Time-trial performance improved significantly in both conditions. Maximal oxygen uptake was significantly increased only in normoxia. In hypoxia, a slight but significant increase in maximal aerobic power and maximal ventilation occurred. No effect of training was found on lactate turnover rates. In contrast, glucose metabolic clearance rate decreased and plasma concentration of insulin and glucose increased after training in hypoxia. Three athletes involved in hypoxia exhibited overtraining symptoms.

Implication. Live-low/train-high sessions add nothing to sea-level endurance performancse and are no different to continued normoxic training. Additional live-low/train-high experiences add significant stress to serious training athletes by altering glucoregulation and contributing to accelerated onset of overtraining in some athletes.

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