Oxygen manipulation as an ergogenic aid

Curr Sports Med Rep. 2003 Aug;2(4):233-8. doi: 10.1249/00149619-200308000-00011.


The benefits of living and training at high altitude (HiHi) for an improved sea-level performance have been questioned because controlled studies have shown contradictory results. HiHi increases red blood cell mass (RCM), but training in hypoxia may be either an inadequate (low-intensity) or even harmful (to heart, muscle, and brain) stimulus. Recent studies indicate that the best approach to attain the benefits and overcome the problems of altitude training is to sleep at a natural or simulated moderate altitude and train at low altitude or sea level (HiLo). HiLo training increases RCM, as well as sea-level VO(2max) and performance (at least in responders), if certain prerequisites are fulfilled. The minimum dose seems to be more than 12 hours per day for over 3 weeks at an altitude or simulated altitude of 2100 to 2500 m. The effects of exposure to hypoxia seem to persist for a short period during the subsequent training or racing in normoxia.

MeSH terms

  • Altitude
  • Humans
  • Oxygen / metabolism*
  • Physical Endurance / physiology*
  • Physical Exertion / physiology*
  • Sports


  • Oxygen