Ingham, E.A., Pfitzinger, P. D., Hellemans, J., Bailey, C., Fleming, J. S., & Hopkins, W. G. (2001). Running performance following intermittent altitude exposure simulated with nitrogen tents. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 33(5), Supplement abstract 11.

This study reported changes in the performance of athletes exposed to simulated altitude hypoxia, achieved by sleeping and resting in tents flushed with oxygen-depleted air. Competitive middle-distance runners (M = 17; F = 4) served as Ss. A tent group (N = 11) slept in Hypoxico tents for an average of 10+ hours per day for a four-week period. The control group (N = 10) performed normal training and living. The simulated elevation was 2,500 m at the start of the first week, which was then raised gradually to 3,500 m for the last three weeks if each athlete's rest and sleep was not disturbed. Performance trials were conducted on a treadmill and blood tests were conducted before and after the experience. [Groups were not equated for performance, life-style parameters, or motivation to participate in the experimental condition.]

For the tent group, run time on the treadmill increased 13%, which translated into a 1.5% increase in race speed. Lactate threshold improved 1.4% relative to the control group. The average hematocrit of 44% did not change throughout the study. Improvements were lost after four weeks.

It was concluded that tent-living hypoxia produces improvements similar to those obtained by live-high/train-low experiences. The effects last less than one month and are independent of oxygen carrying capacity of the blood.

Implication. Hypoxic tents produce improved adaptations that translate into elevated running times.

Return to Table of Contents for this issue.