Training at altitude with CHASKi

The benefits of altitude training

Altitude training is common practice among endurance athletes seeking to improve performance. It is generally performed at > 2,000 meters (> 6,560 ft) above sea level and induces a series of physiological adaptations, such as increased production of red blood cells and hemoglobin, which improve the body’s ability to transport and utilize oxygen. These adaptations generate improved aerobic performance once the athlete descends to lower altitude levels. 

Case study: Training at altitude with CHASKi

Today we want to tell you about Maite, a triathlete, who used the Live high, Train high (LHTH) model, living and training for 2 weeks in northern Chile at 2,250 meters (7,381 ft) above sea level. She did a CHASKi bike test before going to altitude and 20 days after descent.

As we see in her CHASKi reports, her FTP and maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) were not impacted pre and post altitude training. Additionally at her second ventilatory threshold (VT2), also referred to as the anaerobic threshold, her power, respiratory rate, and heart rate were unchanged. However, at her first ventilatory threshold (VT1), also referred to as the aerobic threshold, her power increased from 160 to 200 watts while her respiratory rate and heart rate remain unchanged. In other words, she was able to reach a higher power output before she began to fatigue (*). 

 This adaptation allowed Maite to output more power and speed with less internal load which is important for longer distance endurance races. Thanks to this and all her preparation, Maite qualified for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in New Zealand this year.

Maite’s case is an example of how CHASKi enables you to measure and monitor your progress over time, so you can make timely decisions during your training cycles, to meet your goals

The Science of High-Altitude Training

These results are consistent with a study conducted in Chile with elite rowers in 2022. In this study, the same training methodology (LHTH) was used. The training consisted of 3 weeks at ~2,900 (~9,500 ft) above sea level and concluded that maximal parameters (VO2 max and maximal aerobic power) did not change, but submaximal parameters, such as ventilatory thresholds, did.

It is known that environmental conditions at altitude result in physiological adaptations that produce improvements in performance at sea level. As altitude increases, atmospheric pressure decreases, making it difficult for the body to transfer oxygen to the blood.

In the medium term the body adapts to these conditions by optimizing oxygen transport. When the athlete returns to sea level, with these adaptations and higher atmospheric pressure, the body is able to transport oxygen better than before and thus the athlete’s aerobic capacity increases. 

There are several ways to use altitude as a tool, such as utilizing a combination of living and or training at altitude. In addition, simulated exposure can be used through altitude tents or masks that mimic these environmental conditions.

Call to Action

Maite’s case is an example of how CHASKi enables you to measure and monitor your progress over time, so you can make timely decisions during your training cycles, to meet your goals. 

* Before surpassing her VT1 and transitioning into a mix of aerobic and anaerobic metabolism, starting to accumulate lactic acid and fatigue.