With the increasing popularity of altitude training as an add-on or supplementary service offered by gyms and studios, we’ve put together 10 things to know about simulated altitude training rooms.1The air that we breathe at sea level is roughly 79% Nitrogen 20.9% oxygen and a mix of smaller gasses. Fundamentally, simulated altitude training (SAT) involves reducing the amount of oxygen in the room to mimic the terrestrial altitude environment. 2Individuals should undertake a passive exposure test followed by an active altitude tolerance test that involves an incremental exercise regime to determine an individuals response to a simulated altitude training environment. 3Most simulated altitude training chambers are generally set between 2500m to 3500m (approximately 15% to 13% oxygen) to enable good results in a safe environment. Some SAT chambers are designed to simulate very high altitudes of >5500m. 4You should always have access to a pulse oximeter (a non-invasive device placed on your finger that measures oxygen saturation in your blood and heart rate in BPM) whilst training in an altitude room. 5Excess exposure to training at altitude can weaken a person’s immune system, so it is important for the body to have proper nutrition whilst training at altitude is part of your overall exercise regime. 6Given the exercise limitations of an individual in a rehab state, a simulated altitude training environment allows for the maintenance of cardiovascular fitness with lower musculo-skelatal load, speeding up the recovery process after injury. 7A lack of oxygen (hypoxia) elicits an immediate response of increased heart rate and respiratory rate. The stress of hypoxia stimulates the body to be more efficient in using oxygen and providing energy to active muscles, improving aerobic conditioning. 8With less oxygen available in a simulated altitude training environment, you are unlikely to be able maintain the same level of exercise ‘intensity’ than you would normally achieve if training at sea level. 9Improved fat loss and improved cardiovascular health is a known major benefit with training at altitude with studies also showing a decrease in insulin resistance even after a three week stay at 1,700m above sea level. 10Improved insulin and glucose sensitivity for weight management and body composition is a benefit for many who participate in altitude training.
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Simulated Altitude Training (SAT) Instructor courses are available through Fitness Science Australia. This foundations course includes an overview of the history of SAT, terminology, physiological adaptations to SAT in response to a variety of training conditions, client screening and assessment, SAT progression, integration and periodisation and workout structure and session planning.