High altitude training benefits may be a myth
THE endurance benefits of high altitude training, said to come from a boost to red blood cell count, may simply be due to the placebo effect, researchers have suggested.
The training, which typically means living and sleeping at about 2400m but coming down to sea level to train, has been used by the English soccer team, the US speed-skating team, cyclists, swimmers and top-ranked tennis player Novak Djokovic.
But a Swiss study, unlike many previous investigations, included a control group and found no proof that elite cyclists spending 16 hours a day in rooms simulating oxygen levels at 3000m performed any better than those living with sea-level oxygen.
Swiss researcher Carsten Lundby took muscle samples, finding no suggestion the athletes at higher altitude were using energy more efficiently, and believes there may be a “ceiling effect” so that endurance athletes with a high level of red blood cells cannot increase performance further.
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