performance/training affected by altitude?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jan 03, 2012 1:44 AM GMT
    Greetings from the Mile High City of Denver!

    So I am doing yet another round of P90X with another member of RJ. I have observed lately that my ability to perform the exercises is MUCH lower than it was before. Granted it's been a while since I did P90X and some of this is surely due to the fact that my body is being shocked back into the routine, but I have to tell you, I have never felt worse in my life while training. Could this possibly be attributable to the higher altitude and the thinner air? (I've only lived at --and worked out at -- sea level or just a bit above it until now.)

    Any input would be appreciated... even if it is to tell me that I'm way wrong and that I just need to accept my aging body like the elder statesman I am (haha).

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    Jan 03, 2012 4:03 AM GMT
    icon_neutral.gif I think altitude acclimation only takes a couple of weeks.
    Certainly, I've noticed a couple of times when I went right from sea level to 6000 or 8000 feet and tried to jump on my bike or something the next day, I thought I was gonna die. After a week or so, it seemed like normal.
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    Jan 03, 2012 6:03 AM GMT
    I'm also in the Denver area (moved here about 18 months ago). The high altitude definitely makes the same workout more challenging than it is near sea level. Example: I could burn 600 calories/hour on a rowing machine at a 600-foot elevation, but it seems equally difficult to burn 525 calories/hour on a rowing machine in the Mile High City. That's a 15% loss of performance.

    I took a hiatus from working out (resulting in weight gain), but I'm burning 15% fewer calories for a similar perceived level of exertion as compared to sea level. I've been back in Colorado for 18 months, so I should have acclimated to the altitude by now. Hopefully I'll get to similar calories/hour after I've worked out for a while.

    Elite athletes use altitude training to get an advantage at sea level, but that only lasts a few weeks after descending to near sea level. I've wondered what I could do to improve my fitness at altitude or increase my tolerance to altitiude. I'd like to revisit Mt. Evans this summer (elevation of 14,250 feet), but this time without a ~130 bpm resting pulse while at that altitude. I'll need to get in better shape to tolerate the thin air at such a high elevation and be able to hike up a short trail to the summit to the top of the Rockies.
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    Jan 04, 2012 1:51 AM GMT
    Most definitely!
    Whenever we go to Denver to visit my in-laws, my heart-rate goes up way faster at slower speeds than down here at sea-level. The dry air isn't helping either, I always drink way more water during a workout in Denver than here.
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    Jan 04, 2012 3:06 AM GMT
    The dryness in Colorado actually makes exercise a little easier for me. Sweat doesn't stay around long before evaporating. That makes strenuous exercise more comfortable.

    Haven't found anything yet about how to train the body to acclimate to higher altitude. The most common advice is to gradually increase altitude (don't just fly in to 12,000 feet if you're used to living at sea level), hydrate thoroughly, and take it easy for a few days to allow the body to adjust.

    It's just that I've been back here 18 months now and still feel like my body won't adjust and equal what I could do at a lower elevation.
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    Jan 04, 2012 3:16 AM GMT
    When I am in Denver I can run about an 8 minute mile or I can run about 5 miles before I die of exhaustion.

    When I am in Tel Aviv, Israel, which is at sea level, I can run a 7 minute mile and can run about 7 miles before I collapse completely.
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    Jan 04, 2012 3:22 AM GMT
    the thinner air at high altitudes is harder on the cardiopulmonary system..until you get used to it...i once read somewhere that certain tribes of people at high altitude mountain ranges have lived there so long that they have developed larger hearts to accomodate the oxygen difference...
  • ncaahockey

    Posts: 59

    Jan 04, 2012 3:40 AM GMT
    I'm really glad you brought up this topic!

    I posted a topic on the forums a while back about a new thing called the Altitude Training Mask and how it is suppose to make you a better athlete?

    The site is :

    Here is a guy using the mask to train in:

    It looks different but it seems like it could really make you better? But not sure how other people at the gym would think if you were wearing this!

    What are everyone thoughts?

    Sahem = I agree with others that the altitude mixed with the really dry air can make it tough on you. Your body will adapt to the new altitude and actually make you a better athlete when you come down from the Heavens in Denver lol
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    Jan 04, 2012 7:22 AM GMT
    Altitude definitely makes a big difference with your training.

    In fact, many athletes will spend the off season in places like Colorado to get high altitude training. If your body is conditioned to perform at a certain level with less oxygen, it will be easier for it to do the same under more oxygenated environments