Altitude Training for Improved Cycling Performance

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02/28/2006| 0 comments
by Andy Lapkass - Expert coach

Altitude Training for Improved Cycling Performance

Breathing in the thin air of high elevation can help you improve your performance.

week after a LHTL camp to feel ?race ready.?

 

Competing at Altitude

When preparing for competition at altitude there are basically three choices, as listed below in order of preference.

 

Arrive at altitude at least three weeks prior to competition

This allows for adequate altitude adaptation as well as time to develop a sound pacing strategy. The first week at altitude should involve easy exercise to allow time for acclimatization without the added stress of training. This minimizes the risks of acute mountain sickness and its associated headache, nausea, poor appetite, fatigue, disturbed sleep, and lethargy. The remaining 2-5 weeks constitute the primary phase of altitude training and should incorporate the training modifications listed below, based on an athlete?s standard, low altitude program.

 

?         Altitude: The recommended training altitude is from 1,900 m (6,000 ft) to 2,700 m (8,800 ft), but should also reflect the average actual competition altitude.

?         Training Volume: Volume should be decreased by 10-20 % of sea level values and gradually increased by 3-5% each week.

?         Training Intensity: Interval workout intensity should be decreased by 5-7% over the first week and then increased by 0.5-1% per week.

?         Recovery: Recovery time for interval workouts needs to be doubled initially, and then decreased by 2-3% per week. It should always remain at least 10% above sea level recovery times.

?         Pacing: Due to the increased recovery time at altitude following short, intense efforts, the ability to appropriately pace an all-out effort is critical for performance at altitude.

 

Arrive two weeks prior to competition

Arriving two weeks prior to competition allows for adequate time to develop pacing strategies, improve sleep quality and appetite, and take advantage of RBC changes. Oxygen delivery to working muscles is generally improved over shorter stays, though there may still be issues with decreased blood volume and buffering capacity.

?         Altitude: The recommended altitude is between 1,900 m (6000 ft) and 2,700 (8,800 ft).

?         Training Volume and Intensity: Both volume and intensity should be decreased by 30-40% initially (first 4 days) and over the following 10 days gradually increased back to 75-85% of sea level doses.

?         Recovery: Recovery time for interval workouts needs to be doubled initially, and then decreased by 2-3% per week. It should always remain at least 10% above sea level recovery times.

?         Pacing: The focus of training should be pacing strategies.

 

Arrive as close to race time as possible

In this protocol there is no time for acclimatization or adaptation to altitude prior to competition. In fact, the goal is to avoid an altitude stimulus, which initially has components that can potentially decrease performance. Basically, you?re getting there and doing your event before the detrimental aspects of being at altitude kick in. The major disadvantage to this protocol is that there is no time to develop a sense of pace. However, if you have competed or trained at altitude previously, then this disadvantage may be minimal.

 

In summary, altitude training has a proven

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