At TCR, we love using science to help you achieve your goals. Canada’s first dedicated Altitude Lab is our way of helping you achieve them. The “human body is a wonderful organism that continually adapts to a stimulus.” Our stimulus is to use short episodes of altitude exposure to produce a positive change in your body. You will experience an improvement in your metabolism, fitness and body composition in a relatively short period of time.
Our Altitude Lab:
Capacity: up to 8 people
Modalities: 2 Treadmills and 4 stationary bicycles by PowerTap
How: Walk, run, cycle or row
Elevations: Sea level to 17,000 ft (5181 m)
What happens in the Altitude Lab?
Each session is 60-75 min consisting of interval walking, running, cycling or rowing. The degree of effort is dependent on your fitness and experience. The session is customized to your ability. We monitor your SPO2 (oxygen saturation) to make sure you are getting the appropriate training effect. At normal elevation, your SPO2 is at 97-100% saturation. At Altitude, we aim to drop your SPO2 between 80-90% on each interval. Our coaches help you with every set. Everyone responds differently at Altitude and that is how we customize each session.
What to expect:
Based off our Altitude study and participants to date, the average power increase is 10-25 watts over 6 sessions! Runners have seen 3-6% improvement in their race times and the walkers have experienced 3-15 lbs of weight loss. As for hematocrit and hemoglobin, the results are variable between each participant. Some people do show a positive change in their blood while others remain the same.
How high do we go and how long does it last?
9000-12,000 ft (2700-3600 m). Through our research and trials, we have found that this elevation range achieves significant and positive changes for each person. You can expect the “Altitude effects” to last 4-6 weeks after the 6 sessions.
Altitude training grabbed the world’s attention at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, which took place at an altitude of 7380 ft (2380 m). Athletes from high elevation countries, such as Kenya and Ethiopia, had tremendous success and beat out many of the race favorites who were sea level competitors. Today, athletes continue to use Altitude as a training method by travelling to locations such as Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Kenya for extended visits. The interest and popularity of Altitude training typically occurs at elevations greater than 6000 ft (1828 m). The most popular method over the past 20 years is to live at these elevations and then drop down to 3280 ft (1000m) for training. This is called the “Live High, Train Low (LHTL)” model of training. Although highly effective for dedicated and professional athletes, the LHTH model is not practical for the majority of people who have families, jobs and do not compete professionally. This is where TCR steps in to help!
Research over the last 10 years has also shown that short, interval based training sessions at Altitude can have a similar effect as LHTL. This is also called “Intermittent Training.” The obvious advantage is the ability to stay close to home and maintain your lifestyle! TCR’s Altitude Lab is intended to do exactly that.
We will provide you with a robust and individual based program in our own Altitude room. We also have the Physiology Laboratory to measure your body’s adaptation to the training through pre and post VO2 testing and your blood’s hematocrit and hemoglobin levels.
It’s not all about performance! You may simply just want to get ready for a high altitude trip to Kilimanjaro or a week trip in the mountains. Not everyone has the opportunity to drive or travel to these destinations, which is where our Altitude Lab can help with the preparation. We can set-up a program to progressively expose your body to increasing elevations so that when your trip occurs, you can ready to enjoy the scenery…instead of feeling nausea and out of breathe.
Sea-level exposure is beneficial for people living at higher elevations such as Calgary (1100m) and Edmonton (700m). Dropping down or increasing the oxygen intake to your lungs is a great recovery aid. You will feel stronger and more energetic which is helpful in getting your vitality back for exercise. For every 1000m you can attain or get back, your body’s VO2max or oxygen efficiency increases by up to 10%. This means you can train with less effort and still get in a great workout.
One of the most common issues with injury is losing your cardiovascular fitness. People are unable to effectively exercise to their previous pre-injury levels and hence fitness is lost. With our Altitude room, we can regain those previous efforts and heart rates by simply exposing your body to higher elevations. Imagine walking or running at 50% of your normal speed but still getting in the same workout! Altitude exposure automatically drives your breathing and heart rate to a higher level even though the workload is moderate. This way, you protect your injury, but maintain your cardiovascular fitness.
Are you looking to drop a few extra pounds but have hit a plateau? When your exercise and nutrition plans are not getting you the results you desire, Altitude Training is a viable option to get your metabolism moving again. There are two points to consider on why to try Altitude training for weight loss:
Due to the automatic increase in your breath and heart rate, exercise at altitude also increases your caloric expenditure. This means that you burn more calories.
To understand this, it is important to know that the body always wants to replace what it uses for exercise. Exercise at higher altitudes causes your body to use up its short term carbohydrate (glycogen) stores at higher rates than normal. We then immediately breakdown our fat to replace the carbohydrates. This faster sugar breakdown causes two unique changes: 1) your body slows the fat storage mode and 2) you force the body to burn fat for recovery. This is what we consider a “great bang for your buck.” Altitude training is a great aid for fat and weight loss.