Training for altitude

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  • #3390

    I’m a Floridian who inexplicably got interested in alpine climbing. I train for uphill using bridges, steep slopes next to the freeway and a plyo box. I was pretty gassed above 12000 ft on a trip to the Sierras (though fatigue, dehydration and fear were probably factors in addition to the altitude). How can I train for altitude? I’ve pretty much ruled out masks and low O2 tents based on research. Wind sprints? What duration, how often, and how far out from my trips to altitude? Thanks.

Posted In: Alpinism

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    Max McKee on #3391

    I live at sea level as well and am training for 14ers. I am limited on my time when I do get out to hills, so I do not have the time for acclimatization. The best I can do is just build up my aerobic base as much as possible, stay very well hydrated and go fast and light on my climb. I usually start trying to hydrate well at least a day or two before my climb. It can be difficult to want to drink once you’re up there, but I found it really helps me. As far as I know, altitude training masks don’t work.

    I also feel that focusing on aerobic work at nose breathing pace has given me the best results, versus focusing on sprints. Though, I do incorporate hill sprints into my base period for strength training.

    I have a post about this in the mountaineering section and Scott gives some useful information about strategy and what not.

    Anonymous on #3400

    Florida does not give you much access to altitude and the hypoxic tents have a some down sides as well. Max is right that wind sprints are going to be training exactly the wrong metabolic system you will be needing in the mountains. The best you can do is build your aerobic capacity as well as you can though low intensity high volume training. If you have any tall building access hiking the stair wells with really be as specific as you can find in FL. This won’t do anything about the altitude but it will make you less reliant on your anaerobic metabolism.

    Last year we had a client who lived in Manhattan. We coached him on our Pro plan. So, he was stuck doing sea level training just like you. Other than some strength work he ran and hiked tall buildings. Last May he climbed both Cho Oyu and Everest without oxygen inside of three weeks. Make your self into an aerobic beast. Stay far away from anaerobic work like wind sprints or high intensity interval based gym workouts. They will NOT do what you may have been lead to believe they do.


    BeLimbach on #3516

    what Max McKee wrote is also my experience from the past two years.
    I live in a not very hilly area and training endurance (running) was a subjective good choice to climb at least towards 3.770m (12,369 ft, Wildspitze, Austria) with lots of reserves.
    The opposite has been true this year due to some nasty knee problems which took me out of running. I would think that riding a bike would be somewhat of an alternative being probably less effective with regard to the objective, but better than nothing.
    And as Scott says, taking stairs instead of a lift, will help also.
    It will certainly help!

    Good luck!

    Ed Schaefer on #3675

    I definitely agree that more aerobic capacity threshold training is probably the best way to prepare for altitude, but I recently heard about the below which might be worth looking into.

    Altitude training masks definitely do not work, but Bas Rutten swears by his O2 trainer:

    I just got one to try, mostly because I read so many testimonials of people who it helped eliminate asthma symptoms, but they claim that if you use it while exercising it will greatly improve your lung strength which will in theory help at high altitudes. I suspect this works in much the same way that the AeT training does.

    My idea is to combine the O2 trainer with my AeT runs and see what kind of results I get.

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