A Different Perspective On Altitude Training

  • By Duncan Larkin
  • Published Mar. 24, 2011
  • Updated Mar. 24, 2011 at 3:58 PM UTC

The approach is now ”Live High, Train Low.”

Of the many excuses used by the 2010 British World Cup showing to explain their dismal showing in South Africa, one stands out: altitude training.

Is altitude training a good thing for all endurance sports?

In an article on BBC Sports’ Web page, U.S. Olympic team physiologist Randall L Wilber writes that it depends on how the training is conducted. Traditionally, endurance athletes have both lived and trained at high altitude (abbreviated as “LH+TH). However, this theory is now being questioned.

“The main limitation of LH+TH altitude training is that many athletes find themselves unable to produce the level of training intensity (running velocity for example) and oxygen flux necessary to bring about or preserve the physiological changes that have a positive impact on performance,” writes Wilber.

Instead of LH+TH, Wilber argues for the LH + TL (train low) approach. To prove his point, he conducted a study of 48 competitive athletes who were tested at a variety of altitudes. He found that athletes had to spend approximately 28 consecutive days at altitude (2,500m) to begin to reap the benefits, which are an increase in red cell volume.

For More: BBC Sport

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Duncan Larkin

Duncan Larkin

Duncan Larkin is the news editor at and a freelance journalist who’s been covering the sport of running for over five years. He’s run 2:32 in the marathon and won the Himalayan 100-Mile Stage Race in 2007. His first running book, RUN SIMPLE, was released last July.

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