Aerobic HR at altitude

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  • #59596

    Just finished my final weekend workout and next week will be my taper week before heading to Ecuador. A few acclimatization peaks and then Cayembe and Chimborazo.

    I have found my Garmix Fenix watch to be very accurate when using it side by side with my Polar chest strap, so I plan on wearing that and will be able to monitor my HR while on the trip.

    With that in mind, while climbing I would still like to stay in my aerobic zone correct? Does the AET remain the same or how does that translate in higher altitudes? Or are there other tips to stay in the zone while climbing at altitude.Nose breathing? Any suggestions would be great!

Posted In: Mountaineering

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    bill on #59628

    I live at pretty close to sea level and most of my training hikes are between 2500 and 6000 feet. So I have this question, too, though I am afraid I know the answer… AeT doesn’t change with altitude.

    bwhipple on #59716


    Edgar Carby on #59727

    Bill, check out a book called Going Higher by Charles Houston (less than $5 on eBay).

    The studies Houston performed looked more at VO2, but I *think* his research means that your AeT will be the same at any elevation but your “pace” at AeT will decrease as elevation increases. So you can still hold your AeT for hours but you’ll be moving slower as elevation increases, ie, the amount of work you can perform at a given heart rate decreases as elevation increases.

    MarkPostle on #59759

    A lot of variables with this one (what kind of altitudes, how acclimated is the individual, how efficient they are at the activity etc) but heres my experience with it. Amount of work you can perform is greatly reduced that is for sure! I have seen a reduction in AeT for the folks I have tested at 2 different altitudes when they are at the higher altitude. (A second home in a mountain town is a common scenario here) How much less varies quite a bit between individuals and I suspect is also a function of how acclimated they are at the time of testing to some extent. If that applies to you I think its worth doing a second AeT drift test at the higher altitude to confirm. As for a trip like Ecuador indeed you want to be operating sub-AeT most of the time, the good news is you won’t have to worry about it as you don’t really have a choice on a 12 hour summit day ? Personally as much as I like data and metrics for training I get a little overwhelmed watch my HR on things like summit days and feel like it detracts from my experience a bit but mostly from my situational awareness of the surroundings. This is of course a bit individual but I like to go much more by feel than HR. It is important to note however that you will likely have a much high respiratory rate up high for a given work output so if you don’t have a lot of time at altitude it may subjectively feel quite hard. FWIW I have never had any luck what so ever with nose breathing once I get up high so I wouldn’t recommend that as a tool to gauge effort. I have included a link to an article on the website which is related to this and may help. It illustrates how the low oxygen environ really limits the available range of HR even to a very well trained athlete.

    David Goettler and Ueli Steck Put Low-Intensity Training to the Test in the Khumbu

    bwhipple on #59772

    Thanks again Mark!

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