If living at altitude or simulating altitude is not a reality for you, can gains be made by taking shorter trips to high altitude?
Unfortunately, for the average cyclist who just wants to get faster, studies on short-term altitude exposure are inconclusive. Some studies suggest that performance increases after a period of high-altitude training, while others indicate that simply training at sea level will yield faster race times.
Utilizing Altitude Training for a Sea-level Race
- Train at moderately high altitudes for three to four weeks to get the full benefits.
- While at altitude, maintain sea-level pace and power output by doing shorter work intervals, driving to lower altitudes, or utilizing supplemental oxygen during workouts and perhaps for some portion of recovery periods as well.
- Be certain to drink enough fluids at altitude to keep your urine a light straw color to avoid dehydration.
Utilizing Altitude Training for Racing at Altitude Between 5,000 and 8,500 Feet
- Live and train at race altitude for three to four weeks.
- Maintain high power output by doing shorter work intervals, drive to lower altitudes for key workouts or utilize supplemental oxygen during workouts.
- If you already live at this altitude, consider short trips to higher altitudes for some training sessions.
Utilizing Altitude Training for Racing at Altitudes Above 8,500 Feet
- Live at an altitude between 5,000 and 8,500 feet for three to four weeks.
- Drive to higher altitudes for some training days and consider occasional overnight stays prior to training days. Keep recovery periods at lower altitudes.
- Keep power output high by doing high-intensity work intervals at 5,000 to 8,500 feet or lower. Or, consider using supplemental oxygen during workouts.
Limited Time and Cash
If you are a lowlander planning to race at altitude but do not have the resources to relocate to a higher elevation for an extended period of time before the event, consider arriving two or three days prior to the race start. More information on adapting to high elevations before a race can be found here.