Over the past two decades, intermittent hypoxic training (IHT), that is, a method where athletes live at or near sea level but train under hypoxic conditions, has gained unprecedented popularity. By adding the stress of hypoxia during ‘aerobic’ or ‘anaerobic’ interval training, it is believed that IHT would potentiate greater performance improvements compared to similar training at sea level. A thorough analysis of studies including IHT, however, leads to strikingly poor benefits for sea-level performance improvement, compared to the same training method performed in normoxia. Despite the positive molecular adaptations observed after various IHT modalities, the characteristics of optimal training stimulus in hypoxia are still unclear and their functional translation in terms of whole-body performance enhancement is minimal. To overcome some of the inherent limitations of IHT (lower training stimulus due to hypoxia), recent studies have successfully investigated a new training method based on the repetition of short (<30 s) ‘all-out’ sprints with incomplete recoveries in hypoxia, the so-called repeated sprint training in hypoxia (RSH). The aims of the present review are therefore threefold: first, to summarise the main mechanisms for interval training and repeated sprint training in normoxia. Second, to critically analyse the results of the studies involving high-intensity exercises performed in hypoxia for sea-level performance enhancement by differentiating IHT and RSH. Third, to discuss the potential mechanisms underpinning the effectiveness of those methods, and their inherent limitations, along with the new research avenues surrounding this topic.
- Assessing Physical Training Modalities in Enhancing Sports Performance
- Exercise Physiology
- Evidence Based Reviews
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