Hypoxic training is a form of therapy that improves the body’s performance through gradually introducing a reduced amount of oxygen to the airflow, so that the body adapts and becomes more efficient at using the oxygen available. It is a technique common among athletes who wish to improve how their body processes air and works on the amount of oxygen present in the bloodstream. It is also used by people with various illnesses. Popular with both Olympic athletes and people wishing to improve their health, this introductory guide will tell you everything you need to know.
What is hypoxic training and how does it work?
Simply put, hypoxic training is a way to train your body to be more efficient in its use of oxygen. The average person breathes in air which is 21% oxygen. However, we only use 4% of that oxygen available to us. Clearly there is a lot of room for improvement. A training session with hypoxic air involves breathing air containing a lowered amount of oxygen through a hand-held mask connected to a hypoxicator, a specially designed machine for this training. These breaths of low-oxygen air are alternated with breaths of air with regular levels of oxygen. Over time, the goal is to induce a change in the cardiovascular system, making it function better on a lower amount of oxygen.
When the body receives less oxygen, it produces more haemoglobin – the foundation element in blood that carries oxygen around the body. This means that with less oxygen available, the body works harder to get it to the muscles more efficiently. The goal is that this level of haemoglobin production should continue once the training is completed. The body’s adaptation is almost instantaneous, giving visible results after the first session.
An Alternative to High Altitude Training
Not to be confused with high-altitude or elevation training, which involves exercising at a high altitude over a period of time, hypoxic training relies on treatment sessions where the trainee remains stationary as they breathe the hypoxic air. High-altitude training typically takes place in locations with an elevation of over 5,000 feet above sea level, often requiring athletes to devote days or weeks of their time to training in these situations. Conversely, training with hypoxic air requires approximately half an hour to an hour and a half of intake time each day of a treatment course, with courses generally lasting about a month. Hypoxic training does aim to have similar results as high-altitude training, but the method with which it achieves them is entirely different and can be used at sea level.
Why should you train this way?
Hypoxic training is suitable for athletes looking to increase their body’s potential, or people who suffering from various ailments such as:
- asthma and other respiratory diseases
- hypertension, anxiety
- other illnesses that could be improved by a better use of oxygen
Are there any drawbacks?
The training can be unsuitable for the elderly, because lung capacity decreases as we age and so that natural decline cannot be counteracted. Other than that, there are no noted drawbacks to using hypoxic air.
In conclusion, hypoxic training is a way to train your body to adapt to make better use of the oxygen available to it, resulting in a more efficient oxygen-metabolism.