Background: It is unclear whether world class endurance athletes, in contrast with less well trained subjects, increase their haemoglobin mass on a regimen of living high and training low (LHTL).
Objective: To assess whether haemoglobin mass increases in world class athletes on LHTL and whether this increase is associated with peak performance at a subsequent important competition.
Methods: Two Swiss world class runners (one 5000 m and one marathon) lived for 26 days (18 hours a day) at an altitude of 2456 m and trained at 1800 m. This LHTL camp was the preparation for the World Athletic Championships taking place 27–29 days after the end of the camp. Haemoglobin mass and other haematological variables were measured before and after the LHTL camp. The performance parameter was the race times during that period.
Results: Haemoglobin mass increased by 3.9% and 7.6%, and erythrocyte volume by 5.8% and 6.3%. The race times, as well as the ranking at the World Championships, indicated clearly improved performance after the LHTL camp.
Conclusions: The results suggest that LHTL with an adequate dose of hypoxia can increase haemoglobin mass even in world class athletes, which may translate into improved performance at important competitions at sea level.
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Competing interests: none declared
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