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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2004 May;96(5):1800-7. Epub 2003 Dec 12.

Intermittent normobaric hypoxia does not alter performance or erythropoietic markers in highly trained distance runners.

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Sports Medicine Institute International, Palo Alto, California 94300, USA.


This study was designed to test the hypothesis that intermittent normobaric hypoxia at rest is a sufficient stimulus to elicit changes in physiological measures associated with improved performance in highly trained distance runners. Fourteen national-class distance runners completed a 4-wk regimen (5:5-min hypoxia-to-normoxia ratio for 70 min, 5 times/wk) of intermittent normobaric hypoxia (Hyp) or placebo control (Norm) at rest. The experimental group was exposed to a graded decline in fraction of inspired O2: 0.12 (week 1), 0.11 (week 2), and 0.10 (weeks 3 and 4). The placebo control group was exposed to the same temporal regimen but breathed fraction of inspired O2 of 0.209 for the entire 4 wk. Subjects were matched for training history, gender, and baseline measures of maximal O2 uptake and 3,000-m time-trial performance in a randomized, balanced, double-blind design. These parameters, along with submaximal treadmill performance (economy, heart rate, lactate, and ventilation), were measured in duplicate before, as well as 1 and 3 wk after, the intervention. Hematologic indexes, including serum concentrations of erythropoietin and soluble transferrin receptor and reticulocyte parameters (flow cytometry), were measured twice before the intervention, on days 1, 5, 10, and 19 of the intervention, and 10 and 25 days after the intervention. There were no significant differences in maximal O2 uptake, 3,000-m time-trial performance, erythropoietin, soluble transferrin receptor, or reticulocyte parameters between groups at any time. Four weeks of a 5:5-min normobaric hypoxia exposure at rest for 70 min, 5 days/wk, is not a sufficient stimulus to elicit improved performance or change the normal level of erythropoiesis in highly trained runners.

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