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The Process of “Natural Doping”- Altitude Training Elite athletes around the world engage in altitude training methods to increase their performance. This practice is mostly evident among individual endurance athletes that include cyclists, triathletes, and marathon runners to increase their endurance. However team-sports, such as, Futbol (Soccer) club has experienced an increase in altitude training because of the energy demands and the different climates FIFA World Cup qualifier are held.

Despite the altitude, oxygen still remains 21% and 78% nitrogen in the air.  However, as a person increases altitude the pressures decrease with fewer molecules and the body has to adapt with physiological changes in the body. One of the primarily adaption to this change is the increase of red blood cell volume, which in turn, will attach oxygen to more hemoglobin produced.   In essence, because of this change in the body, athletes will gain a competitive edge for endurance sports or events.

Altitude training in athletes shows a correlation with the enhancement of physical endurance after returning to sea level.  There are two common forms of altitude training:

Live High and Train High (LH+TH): This form of altitude training is conducted between 5,000 -13,123 feet above sea level at a moderately to intense training.  LH+TH altitude training is commonly see in athletes who live at sea level and during a training cycle they will train and live in higher altitude.

Live High Train Low (LH+TL): This form of hypoxic training has a recommendation of living anywhere from 6,900-8200 feet and training at 4,100 feet or less to show flavorful results.

Altitude training has become very popular for the 1968 Mexico City Olympics Games and continues to be among individual endurance athletes whom wish to seek the performance benefits.

-Richard A. Martinez, M.A., ATC
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