Individual hemoglobin mass response to normobaric and hypobaric "live high-train low": A one-year crossover study

J Appl Physiol (1985). 2017 Aug 1;123(2):387-393. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00932.2016. Epub 2017 May 18.


The purpose of this research was to compare individual hemoglobin mass (Hbmass) changes following a live high-train low (LHTL) altitude training camp under either normobaric hypoxia (NH) or hypobaric hypoxia (HH) conditions in endurance athletes. In a crossover design with a one-year washout, 15 male triathletes randomly performed two 18-day LHTL training camps in either HH or NH. All athletes slept at 2,250 meters and trained at altitudes <1,200 meters. Hbmass was measured in duplicate with the optimized carbon monoxide rebreathing method before (pre) and immediately after (post) each 18-day training camp. Hbmass increased similarly in HH (916-957 g, 4.5 ± 2.2%, P < 0.001) and in NH (918-953 g, 3.8 ± 2.6%, P < 0.001). Hbmass changes did not differ between HH and NH (P = 0.42). There was substantial interindividual variability among subjects to both interventions (i.e., individual responsiveness or the individual variation in the response to an intervention free of technical noise): 0.9% in HH and 1.7% in NH. However, a correlation between intraindividual ΔHbmass changes (%) in HH and in NH (r = 0.52, P = 0.048) was observed. HH and NH evoked similar mean Hbmass increases following LHTL. Among the mean Hbmass changes, there was a notable variation in individual Hbmass response that tended to be reproducible.NEW & NOTEWORTHY This is the first study to compare individual hemoglobin mass (Hbmass) response to normobaric and hypobaric live high-train low using a same-subject crossover design. The main findings indicate that hypobaric and normobaric hypoxia evoked a similar mean increase in Hbmass following 18 days of live high-train low. Notable variability and reproducibility in individual Hbmass responses between athletes was observed, indicating the importance of evaluating individual Hbmass response to altitude training.

Keywords: altitude; athletes; hemoglobin mass; hypoxia; live high-train low; training.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Altitude
  • Athletes
  • Athletic Performance / physiology
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Hemoglobins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / metabolism
  • Male
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Young Adult


  • Hemoglobins