Is There a Benefit to Altitude Training? – with Dr. Peter Hackett and Jon Jonis

Not everything that happens to us at altitude is positive, nor do we all respond the same way. We discuss the ins and outs of altitude camps, and how to make sure you benefit from them.

man-training-at-high-altitude
Tarcu, Romania: Road racer training at high altitude in the mountains.

Perhaps nothing in endurance sports carries the sort of mystique that altitude camps carry. It’s a marker of the seriousness with which we take our training when we go to altitude for a few weeks, build up that natural EPO, and return home to crush our friends and rivals.  

But is it really that simple? Do we see those mythical gains promised to us from time in the high mountains? The answer is a definitive no, followed by a maybe, followed by a clear yes if you do it right. The truth is that there are responders and non-responders to altitude. To take it a step further, many adaptations to altitude take time, take very high altitudes, and not all those adaptations are positive. Doing an altitude camp right takes careful planning and monitoring.  

Here to help us navigate through the many landmines of altitude training is one of the top experts on the subject, Dr. Peter Hackett. He is the director of the Institute for Altitude Medicine. Dr. Hackett has spent decades researching altitude in the Himalayas, Denali, South America, and Colorado. Joining him is Jon Jonis, the founder of Mountain Air Cardio, here in Boulder. Jonis built a company that tries to help athletes get the benefit of hypoxic exposure without having to deal with the negative consequences of training at high altitude.

Along with our two experts, we’ll hear from a host of coaches, athletes, and physiologists, including Dirk Friel, the founder of TrainingPeaks, and Tim Cusick, who develops the WKO+ training software. Jim Miller, the head of High Performance at USA Cycling, will talk about running altitude training camps. Payson McElveen, host of the popular Adventure Stache podcast, will talk about living at altitude as an athlete. Dr. Robert Kenefick, the senior Vice President of Research and Development at Entrinsic Health Solutions, will share his thoughts on supplemental oxygen. Finally, Dr. Andy Pruitt, Colby Pearce, and Todd Carver will discuss the downside of training at altitude.  

So, dial up your altitude tent to 11, and let’s make you fast! 

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