Altitude (mountain) training and its influence on hemoglobine mass and erythrocyte volume


Altitude (mountain) training and its influence on changes in oxygen blood capacity and on the improvement of physical efficiency of sportspersons highly interests sports coaches and sports competitors. Adaptative changes within an organism (such as erytropoesa intensification) that occurs due to staying in high- mountain conditions (lower atmospheric pressure and lower partial blood pressure) may beneficiently influence on intensifying the ability of transporting oxygen in blood, leading to improve competitors’ effort abilities.

The scientists from Swiss Sport Institute published in 2006 the results of their scientific experiment. They examined the influence of 24- day high mountain training done in a form ‘Live high, train low’ on chosen blood ingredients, such as : hemoglobine mass (Hbmass) and red cells volume (RCV) within the group of well- trained competitors specialized in orienteering.

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There were 10 people examined in the research (5 women and 5 men) who spent 24 days on 2500 meters above the sea level (spending there on average 24 hours a day) but training on lower heights (1000- 1800 meters above the sea level).

Before the beginning and after the end of a high- mountain training, their basic blood components were checked to estimate their level of physical capacity (the test of 5 kilometers of running).

A control group consisted of 7 ski- runners (3 men and 2 women) who, at the same time, were living and training on low heights (500- 1600 meters above the sea level).

As a result of a high- mountain training, some significant changes in a hemoglobin mass (approximately from 805 to 848 g) and erytrocit volume (approximately from 2,353 to 4470 ml) among examined people were observed. In the control group no changes were noticed.

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What is more, among sportspersons from an experimental group, the growth of eritropoetine concentration ( a hormone stimulating the production of red blood cells in a bone marrow), reticultocits (immature red blood cells), transferins (proteins transporting iron ions to cells) with a simultaneous decreasion of ferritine ( a protein responsible for storing iron ions in a liver) were noticed.

The change of the blood ingredients concentration mentioned above correlates with the growth of the size of the maximal oxygen consumption per minute VO2 max (on average from 3,5 to 3,7 l per minute) and with the improvement on 5000- meter run results (on average from 18’18” to 18’0”).

The authors also stated that the form of a high- mountain training applied above appeared effective, because it had caused useful changes in abilities of oxygen transporting in blood. It also had caused increasing of effort abilities among examined athletes.

Based on:

Wehrlin J.P., Zuest P., Hallén J., Marti B., Live high-train low for 24 days increases hemoglobin mass and red cell volume in elite endurance athletes, Journal of Applied Physiology, 2006;100:1938–4

Altitude (mountain) training

Altitude (mountain) training

Altitude (mountain) training


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