Innovative climate technology enables us to create the conditions for altitude training in our altitude chamber at LANS Medicum in Hamburg and simulate conditions up to 4,500 metres above sea level. Competitive athletes have been using the hypoxia effect in altitude training for some time now as part of their seasonal and immediate competitive training. What actually happens during physical exertion at such dizzying heights?
During altitude training, also known as hypoxia training, conditions are similar to those found at the top of a mountain. The artificially lowered partial pressure of oxygen in the altitude chamber makes it increasingly difficult for the body to supply oxygen to the muscles (and to the brain and all other organs). This causes a reduction in oxygen saturation in the blood. Consequently, the body is forced to pump more blood through the organism to transport the same amount of oxygen. This leads to effects and is thus a training stimulus for O² uptake, O² transport and O²utilisation, which can be summarised by the term hypoxia training.
A distinction is made between acute and chronic adaptations to the hypoxia stimulus. Acutely, the respiratory and heart rates will increase in order to sufficiently stabilise the oxygen saturation in the blood and the O2 supply. As a long-term adaptation, red blood cells (erythrocytes) may increase. However, this chronic adaptation requires a longer and permanent stay (e.g. over -> life high) and is not associated with individual and shorter durations at this altitude.