The Ergogenics of Hypoxia Training in Athletes

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Abstract

Hypoxia elicits hematopoiesis, which ultimately improves oxygen transport to peripheral tissues. In part because of this, altitude training has been used in the conditioning of elite endurance athletes for decades, despite equivocal evidence that such training benefits subsequent sea level performance. Recently, traditional live high-train high athletic conditioning has been implicated in a number of deleterious effects on training intensity, cardiac output, muscle composition, and fluid and metabolite balance'effects that largely offset hematopoietic benefits during sea level performance. Modified live high-train low conditioning regimens appear to capture the beneficial hematopoietic effects of hypoxic training while avoiding many of the deleterious effects of training at altitude. Because of the logistical and financial barriers to living high and training low, various methods to simulate hypoxia have been developed and studied. The data from these studies suggest a threshold requirement for hypoxic exposure to meaningfully augment hematopoiesis, and presumably improve athletic performance.

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