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ISSN Graduate Diploma Podcast

Nov 12, 2018

One central tenet that underpins endurance performance is the maximal rate at which an athlete can sustainably maintain aerobic metabolism. The upper limit of which, is determined by measuring an athlete’s Vo2 max.


This is the maximal rate at which one’s heart can efficiently pump oxygenated blood to working muscles for energy. This is governed by peripheral factors such as the number and mass of mitochondria, its enzyme activity, myoglobin content and capillary density; and central factors, such as pulmonary diffusion, cardiac output and the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood (Bassett and Howley, 2000).


The most effective method by which blood transports oxygen is via the metallic compound haemoglobin. 


Many endurance athletes undertake various forms of altitude exposure in a bid to increase haemoglobin mass.


However, a factor that remains relatively unexplored is the effects of an athlete’s health on haemoglobin adaptation during altitude training; with one emerging determinant of health being energy availability.


With this in mind, today’s episode takes a look at a study by Heikura et al. (2018), in which the research group assessed associations between sex, baseline haemoglobin mass, health status, energy availability, hormonal concentrations and bone health on haematological adaptation during 4 weeks of high altitude training in World-Class endurance athletes, 27% of which were Olympians.


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