Intermittent Hypoxic Training Krista Austin writes about an alternative to traditional altitude training

Intermittent Hypoxic Training

For most of recreational or amateur athletes, training at altitude isn’t really possible while maintaining a steady job and normal family life. Month-long trips to Boulder or the Alps just aren’t realistic for most of us. That’s where Intermittent Hypoxic Training (IHT) comes in. IHT is an alternative to traditional altitude training that can improve aerobic and anaerobic performance by enhancing muscle function and how well we use and transport oxygen. It can be put to use in three different forms: a prolonged passive exposure ranging from eight to 12 hours, a short passive exposure ranging from 1 to 2 hours, or short training exposures to improve aerobic or anaerobic metabolism.
To employ IHT in your training it’s important to first understand how it differs from simply training at altitude. Moving to Boulder, or engaging in IHT, can bring on hypoxia, basically a reduced total body oxygen saturation. This occurs, however, in two different ways. At altitude, the “thinner air” (created by changes in atmospheric pressure) leads to a degree of hypoxia that is more intense than the kind IHT exposure leads to.

On the flip side, IHT creates a hypoxic environment by reducing the oxygen content of the air you’re already breathing. As a result, a simulated altitude setting on IHT equipment is not the same as experiencing real altitude.

In order to put the two types of hypoxia on a level playing field, an objective measure of hypoxic stress must be measured through the use of a pulse oximeter. This provides a measure of arterial oxygen saturation (SpO2 percent), which indicates the level of hypoxia the body’s tissues are experiencing. At sea level the body is 100 percent saturated with oxygen and, in order to receive benefit, the saturation level must drop below 92 percent. Much like any type of training, the hypoxic training stimulus is determined by the intensity (SpO2percent) and duration of the exposure. This is commonly referred to as the hypoxic training index. This index can be used to tailor the training regime for different individuals and, over time, determine the necessary hypoxic stimulus to produce desired training effects such as increased lactate tolerance or increases in red blood cell volume.

Comments are closed.