Effects of intermittent hypoxia on running economy

Int J Sports Med. 2010 Sep;31(9):644-50. doi: 10.1055/s-0030-1255067. Epub 2010 Jun 29.


We investigated the effects of two 5-wk periods of intermittent hypoxia on running economy (RE). 11 male and female middle-distance runners were randomly assigned to the intermittent hypoxia group (IHG) or to the control group (CG). All athletes trained for a 13-wk period starting at pre-season until the competition season. The IHG spent additionally 2 h at rest on 3 days/wk for the first and the last 5 weeks in normobaric hypoxia (15-11% FiO2). RE, haematological parameters and body composition were determined at low altitude (600 m) at baseline, after the 5 (th), the 8 (th) and the 13 (th) week of training. RE, determined by the relative oxygen consumption during submaximal running, (-2.3+/-1.2 vs. -0.3+/-0.7 ml/min/kg, P<0.05) and total running time (+1.0+/-0.9 vs. +0.4+/-0.5 min, P<0.05) changed significantly between the IHG and CG only during the first 5-wk period. Haematological and cardiorespiratory changes indicate that the improved RE was associated with decreased cardiorespiratory costs and greater reliance on carbohydrate. Intermittent hypoxia did not affect RE during the second 5-wk period. These findings suggest that the effects of intermittent hypoxia on RE strongly depend on the training phase.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Altitude
  • Athletes
  • Athletic Performance / physiology
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology*
  • Running / physiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult