Competitive athletes are always look for an advantage over their competitors. There are many methods of training available that can give you that competitive edge. Most of them have been used over and over with proven studies. One style of training that falls into the other category, the category of being studied but not having established effects and approaches, is altitude training.
However, a great number of competitive athletes have used altitude training to their advantage and have found their own benefits.
Why is altitude training becoming so popular?
Because we are seeing Olympians reap the benefits. We are seeing altitude training used to enhance athletes in team sports, and individual sports. We are also seeing altitude training being used to enhance weight loss and health in unfit, overweight individuals.
Benefits of Altitude Training
The biggest benefit of altitude training is that it is supposed to improve the capacity in which you exercise. Since you are exercising at higher altitudes, your body is being forced to acclimate to the atmosphere which contains lower amounts of oxygen. This, in turn, helps improve your body’s ability to deliver oxygen to your muscles.
When your workouts last longer than a few minutes, it needs more oxygen delivered to produce more energy. This is your aerobic exercise – exercise with oxygen. Without the oxygen, your muscles will seize up, cramp, and become damaged.
Thus, exercising at higher altitudes helps your body better prepare for lower oxygen workouts. The workouts known as anaerobic – exercise without oxygen. It is when you exercise in this range that your body will reap the largest benefits. Your cardiovascular and circulatory systems will begin to function at more optimal levels.
Weight Loss Benefits of Altitude Training
You will improve your post-exercise calorie burn. The altitude training improves your metabolic rate. After a workout at a higher altitude you will be able to burn more calories over the next 12 – 15 hours, which means you are still burning calories while sitting in front of the television.
You will also be able to gain more results in half the time. Exercising for less time while putting forth more effort will result in greater benefits. Exercising for 30 minutes at a high altitude will give you the same benefits as exercising for 1 hour at sea level.
You will also find that your fat is used more efficiently than being stored. When you are overweight, it is because you have a poor fat and carbohydrate metabolism – your body wants to store the fat instead of using it as energy. Therefore, you have a lower capacity for exercising. Instead of storing the fat, when you add altitude training to your fitness you will enhance your metabolisms ability to burn the stored fat and carbohydrates, giving you greater weight loss results.
The Negative Side Effects to Altitude Training
Although there are many benefits of altitude training to your fitness, weight loss, and overall health it is not to be taken as an easy way out. It does take training and work to reap the positive benefits.
Exercising at high altitudes increases your red blood cell count allowing for more oxygen to enter your body, but the more red blood cells you have the thicker your blood becomes. This may cause your blood to become sluggish and have a harder time pumping throughout your body.
The higher number of red blood cells slowing down the flow of blood may also lower your endurance. Instead of allowing adequate amounts of oxygen to your muscles, the amount is limited.
You may also find that your immune system is weakened, or you may have higher levels of stress. Both of which cause your ability to fight disease to be lowered.
One other downside is that you may become dehydrated.
The good news is that you can avoid these by using common sense precautions when it comes to exercising. Do your research and find a method that allows you to slowly build up your altitude training sessions.
It is best to find a routine that has been used with great results. You also want to continue regular exercise precautions such as listening to your body and drinking plenty of fluids before, during, and after your workouts.
Before you begin using altitude training and reaping its benefits it is important that you do your research and properly prepare. Slowly build up your exposure, always keeping in mind that your health is important. Listen to your body and slowly build up to high altitudes. You will reap the benefits and your body with thank you.