"Hypoxic training has been reported to enhance athletes’ altitude and sea-level performance by augmenting oxygen carrying capacity of the blood, as a consequence of increases in hematocrit and hemoglobin concentrations. However the effect of intermittent hypoxic training on hematological responses remains unresolved."
This study investigated the effect of two intermittent hypoxic training regimens on the response of hematological indices. Healthy male Ss (N = 27) were equally assigned to a control group, a live low-train high (LL-TH) group, or a intermittent hypoxic exposure group. Ss performed a one-hour submaximal endurance exercise on a cycle ergometer, five days per week for four weeks, at an intensity corresponding to 50% of normoxic peak power output for the control and intermittent hypoxic exposure groups, and to 50% of hypoxic peak power output for the LL-TH group. Thus, all groups trained at the same relative work rate. The absolute work rate during training was 18-20 W lower for the LL-TH group compared to the other two groups. All groups lived at an altitude of ~300 m above sea level. The control and intermittent hypoxic exposure groups also trained at this altitude, whereas the LL-TH group trained in a hypoxic chamber, breathing a hypoxic mixture (FIO2=12%). In addition to the daily exercise training, the intermittent hypoxic exposure group also inspired a hypoxic gas mixture at rest, and prior to the cycle ergometry. The intermittent hypoxic training comprised breathing a hypoxic mixture during seven phases. Each phase consisted of five minutes of breathing a hypoxic mixture, followed by three minutes of breathing a normoxic gas mixture. Prior to, during, at the end, and 10 days after the training period, blood samples were taken from all Ss in order to measure hemoglobin, hematocrit, erythrocytes, ferritin, and transferrin concentrations.
No significant differences were observed between groups in any measured hematological variables. Similarly, no significant differences were found within groups at the different testing periods.
Implication. Although it has been reported that both LL-TH and intermittent hypoxic exposure protocols provide hematological benefits, that was not confirmed by this study. The tested protocols did not induce any changes in the measured hematological variables; therefore no improvements of the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood should be expected following this type of hypoxic training.
14th Annual Congress of the European College of Sport Science, Oslo, Norway, 24-27/6/2009.