Intermittent Hypoxic Training to Enhance Endurance in Elite Swimmers

  • Nikolai I. VolkovEmail author


Intermittent hypoxic training (IHT) with normobaric hypoxia has been used as an adjunct method to enhance performance of endurance athletes. Twelve swimmers of high qualification were divided into two groups: control and experimental. The control group was trained with usual capacity using traditional techniques. The experimental group of swimmers underwent the same traditional methods of training combined with different variants of IHT during the recovery periods followed the main physical training loads. “Hypoxicator Everest” (a device jointly developed by the Climbi Ltd. of Russia and the Praxsep Inc. of Canada) was used for generating hypoxic atmosphere with hypoxic gas mixtures (10% or 12% O2). Each hypoxic exposure was 3–10 min followed by 3–10 min of normoxia period when the athletes breathed regular air. The combined exposure to hypoxia did not exceed 1.5–2 h/day. The adjunct IHT training continued for a period of 3 months. Before and immediately after the end of experiments, the athletes of both groups were tested in standard ergonomic procedures for the maximum of aerobic and anaerobic work capacity. IHT resulted in significant increase in parameters of maximum aerobic capacity for the experimental group: VO2max increased on average 11% from its pretraining baseline; V E, 6.4%; W cr, 10.8%; ΔpH, 44.6%; ExcCO2, 23%, and W max, 9.8%. Results for the control group were significantly lower. According to these findings, the greater improvement in swimming performance was to be expected for athletes in the IHT group in middle distances such as 200, 400, and 800 m. In conclusion, the use of IHT as additional training method for elite swimmers has considerably improved their performance results during a relatively short period of training.


Intermittent Hypoxia Training Load Physical Load Hypoxic Treatment Oxygen Debt 
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Interval hypoxic training


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© Springer-Verlag London 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Russian State University of Physical Education, Sport and TourismMoscowRussia

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