Altitude training has been a common form of high-performance training for many decades, however the team at the Prime Human Performance Institute have gone as far as to develop a individualistic approach to altitude training that is athlete-focused.
The Simulated Altitude Room at Prime has become a popular venue for Elite Athlete Development Programme Athletes as well as the general public as they aim to improve performance before big events. Through research funded by SmartXchange Incubator, under the Innovation Seed Funding programme of the Technology Innovation Agency, Prime has developed a method of assessing athletes and prescribing personalised programmes to individually optimise altitude training benefits.
“Simulated altitude training has been popular for many years, however every athlete responds differently and we need to adapt the training to support the individual,” lead researcher and physiotherapist, Wayne Holroyd commented.
“Athletes undertook baseline testing that included the YoYo Test, a repeat sprint exercise. These results enabled us to prescribe an individualised program to be used over three weeks.
“We used several elite athletes for our research and through our individualised training protocol we saw an average of 4.5% increase in the YoYo Test performance at the end of the three-week trial.
“This increase in elite athletes is hugely significant and in a member of the general public we would expect to see an even greater increase.”
“The key points are that the protocol we use increases oxygen uptake and transport to the muscles, improves oxygen utilisation efficiency in the muscles, reduces the volume of lactate produced during high intensity exercise, and enhances the removal and processing of the lactate that is produced.
“By manipulating the simulated altitude level in our chamber to as high as 3800m above sea level, and prescribing individualised training protocols to each athlete, we can maximise the benefits of the altitude training.
“The benefits are mainly that athletes can sustain a higher intensity of output for slightly longer, and that they recover quicker after high intensity bouts. This leads to, amongst other benefits, the 4.5% increase in repeat sprint performance.
“We use the altitude training not to replace existing training, but to create this benefit which will allow athletes to train harder with their normal training and therefore get more out of it.
One of the athletes that has been part of this testing is Olympic bronze medallist Bridgitte Hartley. The paddler understands the importance of altitude training and has used it in the past.
“I think for me the most important element from the test was that my recovery time was quicker when I was doing those sprints,” she explained.
“The training sessions were hard but I felt good because I knew that it was beneficial.
“It’s great that they set it up for us individually, it doesn’t help if there are ten people all using the same programme because we all have different requirements.”