Being the first to bring altitude training to the Central Coast, we are committed to educating Coasties on why training at The Altitude Gym can help you achieve your fitness goals faster. Below are the most commonly asked questions to help you get an understanding of what training at The Altitude Gym can do for you.

What is altitude?
Altitude refers to the elevation gain from sea level. Mt Kosciuszko has an altitude of 2,228m while Mt Everest is 8,868m. As altitude increases, the effects of gravity decreases thereby allowing air to become more dispersed, or ‘thinner’ as it is commonly known. The higher you go, the “thinner” the air becomes. ‘Thin’ air equates to less oxygen becoming available in every breath.

What is altitude training?
The old way is to live and train at a high altitude location for a period of time prior to competition. This is very expensive and impractical for most unless they are professional athletes. The other method involves simulated altitude where hypoxic air (i.e. air containing less oxygen) is breathed while training. A specialised hypoxic generator produces this air and delivers it to the athlete via a mask. This is less expensive but very restrictive for the athlete’s movements. Today, the air within an entire facility (e.g. gym, swimming pool lane, thoroughbred treadmills etc) can be regulated by hypoxic generators allowing the athlete (or racehorse) freedom of movement when exercising. Such facilities are mostly private, however we are the only commercial altitude gym on the Central Coast that provides to the public, world class facilities normally only available to elite sporting professionals for less than $30.00 per week!

What are the effects of high altitude?
People living at Sea-Level (such as on the Central Coast) who visit high altitude locations (above 2,500m) often find a big initial drop in their physical fitness such as experiencing breathlessness after performing easy exercises such as going for a brisk walk. After a period of living at altitude, people develop an increase in physical fitness upon returning to sea level.

Air becomes sparser as we go higher due to a decrease in gravity and this results in less oxygen being available for every breath taken. This triggers an adaptive physiological response so that the body can survive in the new lower-oxygen environment. Essentially – your body adapts to the low oxygen environment by becoming more efficient at taking in and using oxygen. Upon returning to sea level, these physiological changes will result in enhanced fitness as more oxygen is available.

How does altitude training help me?
Training, or even just being, in a low oxygen environment stresses the body and causes it to produce a range of adaptive responses as it attempts to regain normal functionality again. These adaptive responses translate to improved performance when that person is in a normal oxygen environment. Essentially, training at The Altitude Gym, helps you improve your Endurance, Speed, Weight loss and over all fitness!

How long or often do I train?
Training with the Repeat Sprint Hypoxia (RSH) protocol* twice a week for four weeks gives significant fitness improvements. If you are training for a race or sporting event, or about to embark on a high altitude or trekking trip, we recommend a minimum of three months  of regular training (two to three times per week) to give the body time to physically adapt to its enhanced ‘biochemical fitness’. We can train at altitude indefinitely – The city of Lhasa in Tibet, has a similar altitude to our gym and the highest settlement in the world is just above 5,000m.

*We provide our members a range of complimentary virtual classes that guide you through Repeat Sprint Hypoxia Training, taking all the guesswork out for you. Simply show up, put on the virtual class, and see results!

Can I get altitude sickness?
It is practically impossible to get Altitude Sickness in The Altitude Gym. Altitude Sickness, or Acute Mountaineering Sickness (AMS), is caused by the combined effects of low atmospheric pressure and insufficient oxygen. It is not instantaneous and warning signs of impending AMS are well documented (e.g. headaches, nausea). In the mountains, the treatment is immediate descent or the administration of oxygen. We do not adjust the atmospheric pressure inside The Altitude Gym – only the oxygen content.  Should you experience any headaches or nausea in The Altitude Gym, simply step outside the room to get an instant boost of oxygen.

I’ve booked a trip to Machu-Pichu in August. Can training at The Altitude Gym help me reduce the risk of getting altitude sickness when I get there?
YES! Training at The Altitude Gym for a minimum of 3 months prior to the trip date will help pre-acclimatise you to high altitude conditions, reducing the risk of AMS for trekkers. Plus, our workouts will help get you fitter as well!

Don’t you have to sleep at altitude?
Sleeping (or sitting down) at altitude is a passive way of training and will give some results, but it’s not particularly efficient. Simply being in a high altitude environment such as sleeping in high altitude helps to increase your red blood cell count. The most effective way to get the most out of a high altitude environment is by performing intermittent hypoxic training programs like repeat sprint hypoxia* which is proven to adapt your body and boost performance by up to a whopping 50% compared to just 5% by sleeping in a high altitude bed.

*We provide our members a range of complimentary virtual classes that guide you through Repeat Sprint Hypoxia Training, taking all the guesswork out for you. Simply show up, put on the virtual class, and see results!

What changes happen in my body from altitude training?
Exposure to low oxygen causes the kidneys to produce a hormone called Erythropoietin (EPO) which triggers the production of red blood cells (RBC) in the bone marrow which leads to more efficient transportation of oxygen (from an increase in haemoglobin). The myoglobin content of our muscles also increases so that the haemoglobin’s oxygen is more efficiently transferred to working muscles. Proteins (i.e. Transcription Factors) called Hypoxia-Inducible Factors (HIFs) are produced, which in turn promotes blood vessel formation (i.e. increased capillarization) and the healing of wounds. Vigorous altitude training causes lactic acid to build up quicker and the body will react by enhancing its ability to metabolize lactic acid, which translates to better performance at sea level.

Adaptations include:
Increased blood capillary growth
Increase red blood cell count
Increased vasodilation of blood cells
Increased in mitochondrial efficiency – at a molecular level
Increase in Heat Shock Proteins – hydrogen ion buffer
Enhanced insulin regulation
Enhanced glycogen storage and usage
Enhanced metabolic rate
Enhanced haemodynamics
Overall, the body becomes more efficient at using oxygen.

How many sessions before I see a difference?
Effects are typically noticeable after three to four weeks of training two to three times per week.

How can this help my trekking?
Pre-acclimatization starts the body off in the process of becoming more oxygen efficient. When exposed to low oxygen while trekking, the body is less stressed and continues to acclimatize as the trek progresses.

How long will it last?
The effects of training at The Altitude Gym typically last up to 4 weeks after your last session, however this is typical of working out in general. The solution? Make exercise and working out at The Altitude Gym part of your lifestyle!

I’ve googled altitude training and have come across the live low/train high, live high/train low debate. What are the benefits between training at The Altitude Gym and flying to a naturally high altitude place to live and train? 

Other than the obvious, such as it being a ridiculously long commute to a mountain high enough in Australia to be able to benefit from altitude training, living in a low altitude environment such as on the Central Coast and having access to The Altitude Gym where you can “train high” allows you the added benefits of:
Intermittent as opposed to constant exposure
Practically no risk of altitude sickness with a simulated altitude
The ability to maintain peak power output and intensity at simulated altitude
Can implement both anaerobic and aerobic protocols
Can be done year around – regardless of weather
More cost effective (Less than $30.00 per week!)
Less performance compromise from low pressure
Reduced risk of severe dehydration and appetite loss
Climate is controllable and not a risk factor – Air conditioned
Full range of familiar training equipment available
No restriction to training after scuba diving

Will it compromise or add to my training load?
The primary goal of altitude training is to enhance the body’s biochemistry. Depending on what your specific health and fitness goals are, training with us at The Altitude Gym may be the only training you need to do. For people who have a heavy training load already, the ability to gain fantastic results in as little as two 45 minute sessions per week, allows training at The Altitude Gym to be incorporated into your existing training program, easily and with minimal adjustment to your overall program.

Is it dangerous?
Many people are unaware that they may have already been in an oxygen poor environment. If you have ever flown on a plane, you have been exposed to approximately 15% oxygen saturation (compared to approximately 22% at sea level) The Altitude Gym, is kept at a constant 13-14% oxygen saturation. We also offer screening, regulated training programs, professional advice and almost constant supervision making it safer than most standard gyms.

Can I train higher?I want to train at 5000metres?  Is higher better?
The ideal range is between 3,000m and 3,500m  or 13-14% oxygen saturation . Training above 4000 metres causes you to lose too much power and intensity during your workout, compromising your ultimate result.

Do you have any independent scientific studies I can research to learn more?

For those of you wanting to do further research into this amazing technology, you’re in luck! Below you will find a list of studies performed by various people totally independent from The Altitude Gym. Should you still have questions left unanswered, be sure to send us an email or pop in and speak to our resident Scientist, Jason. 

Studies showing training at Altitude enhances fitness and well being
Enhanced & faster weight loss, enhanced metabolic rate, increase in lean muscle – 15%
(Chia et al 2013 Haufe 2008, Christensen 2012)
30 – 50% Significant Increase in repeat sprint efforts to exhaustion enhanced power and extended endurance.
(Faiss et al 2014, 2013, Galvin 2013)
Increase in HIF-1 protein which improves oxygen efficiency and delivery plus VO2 max increase and increased time to fatigue.
(Dufour et al 2006, Czuba et al 2011, Roels 2005, Katayama 2003)
Enhanced mitochondrial function allowing for better metabolic efficiency. Better EPOC or post exercise burn, 7hrs
(Ponsot 2006, Katayama 2004, Serebrovskaya 2002)
Positive impact on Type 2 Diabetes – significant increase acute and moderate term glucose control
(McKenzie et al 2012)

Studies showing how altitude training is superior to standard training
Increase in Hct, Red Blood Cell Count, reticulocytes and Hb concentration.
(Rodriguez 1999)
Buffer capacity, Increase in heat shock proteins which assist in intra and extra cellular buffering that can improve extended sprint and intensity endurance.
(Taylor 2011, 2010)
Enhanced strength gains – 40% greater hypertrophy over normal weight training.
(Nishimura 2010)
Increase EPO levels and concentrations naturally and safely.
(Knaupp 1992, Mackenzie et al 2009)
Sprint Training – enhanced maximal aerobic power, aerobic peak power and anaerobic mean power.
(Meeuwsen 2001, Hendrickson 2003, Hamlin 2010)