PURPOSE: This study tested whether 3-4 weeks of classical "Live High-Train High" (LHTH) altitude training increases swim-specific VO2max through increased hemoglobin mass (Hbmass).
METHODS: Ten swimmers lived and trained for more than 3 weeks between 2,130 and 3,094 m of altitude, and a control group of ten swimmers followed the same training at sea-level (SL). Body composition was examined using dual X-ray absorptiometry. Hbmass was determined by carbon monoxide rebreathing. Swimming VO2peak was determined and swimming trials of 4 × 50, 200 and 3,000 m were performed before and after the intervention.
RESULTS: Hbmass (n = 10) was increased (P < 0.05)after altitude training by 6.2 ± 3.9 % in the LHTH group, whereas no changes were apparent in the SL group (n = 10). Swimming VO2peak was similar before and after training camps in both groups (LHTH: n = 7, SL: n = 6). Performance of 4 × 50 m at race pace was improved to a similar degree in both groups (LHTH: n = 10, SL: n = 10). Maximal speed reached in an incremental swimming step test (P = 0.051), and time to complete 3,000 m tended (P = 0.09) to be more improved after LHTH (n = 10) than SL training (n = 10).
CONCLUSION: In conclusion, 3-4 weeks of classical LHTH is sufficient to increase Hbmass but exerts no effect on swimming-specific VO2peak. LHTH may improve performance more than SL training.