Article Text

PDF

Relationship between changes in haemoglobin mass and maximal oxygen uptake after hypoxic exposure
  1. Philo U Saunders1,2,
  2. Laura A Garvican-Lewis1,2,
  3. Walter F Schmidt3,
  4. Christopher J Gore1,2,4
  1. 1Department of Physiology, Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
  2. 2National Institute of Sports Studies, University of Canberra, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
  3. 3Department of Sports Medicine, University of Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany
  4. 4Exercise Physiology Laboratory, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Philo U Saunders, Australian Institute of Sport, PO Box 176, Belconnen, ACT 2616, Australia; philo.saunders{at}ausport.gov.au

Abstract

Background Endurance athletes have been using altitude training for decades to improve near sea-level performance. The predominant mechanism is thought to be accelerated erythropoiesis increasing haemoglobin mass (Hbmass) resulting in a greater maximal oxygen uptake (GraphicO2max). Not all studies have shown a proportionate increase in GraphicO2max as a result of increased Hbmass. The aim of this study was to determine the relationship between the two parameters in a large group of endurance athletes after altitude training.

Methods 145 elite endurance athletes (94 male and 51 female) who participated in various altitude studies as altitude or control participants were used for the analysis. Participants performed Hbmass and GraphicO2max testing before and after intervention.

Results For the pooled data, the correlation between per cent change in Hbmass and per cent change in GraphicO2max was significant (p<0.0001, r2=0.15), with a slope (95% CI) of 0.48 (0.30 to 0.67) intercept free to vary and 0.62 (0.46 to 0.77) when constrained through the origin. When separated, the correlations were significant for the altitude and control groups, with the correlation being stronger for the altitude group (slope of 0.57 to 0.72).

Conclusions With high statistical power, we conclude that altitude training of endurance athletes will result in an increase in GraphicO2max of more than half the magnitude of the increase in Hbmass, which supports the use of altitude training by athletes. But race performance is not perfectly related to relative GraphicO2max, and other non-haematological factors altered from altitude training, such as running economy and lactate threshold, may also be beneficial to performance.

  • Aerobic fitness/Vo2 Max
  • Altitude
  • Exercise
  • Endurance
  • Elite performance

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 3.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Statistics from Altmetric.com

Request permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.