The Olympic Altitude Advantage

The Olympic Altitude Advantage


With the 2012 London Olympic games beginning in under a month many athletes have been hard at work, training day in and day out. But some endurance competitors have found a secret advantage… One that lurks high above sea levels and upon mountain tops. No, it’s not Julie Andrews, but rather the altitude itself. These athletes are using Altitude Training. Most of us have experienced being under water, and the pressure that comes along with swimming too deep. This is because the further down you go, the more water molecules you have above you, compressing the water down on you. This pressure can even cause your ears to pop The same goes for air. At sea level, the air particles exist at a particular distance from one another. And the higher up you go, the less pressure they have on them, allowing them to spread apart more freely. But because of the spreading, the availability of oxygen for you to breathe in actually decreases. So how could this possibly create an advantage? Well, to compensate for the lack of available oxygen in your body A protein in your body called Erythropoictin is triggered. And begins the production of more and larger red blood cells. Blood cells carry oxygen around the body, so the more blood cells you have, the more oxygen can be transported to your muscles and organs. But this process takes some time, which explains why some people feel sick when quickly travelling to high altitudes. Their body is simply isn’t receiving enough oxygen. Once the extra Erythropoictin kicks in, their body will slowly acclimatise. But just as it takes time for the process to kick in, it can take a while for it to turn off as well. In fact, it can take up to 10-14 days after returning to lower altitudes. For this reason, many athletes will subject their bodies to high altitudes. Preferably, over 2400m. So that when they come back down to lower levels, the body has increased blood cell mass and volume. This method has been dubbed the “live high, train low” principle. Whereby, the athletes train at low altitudes in order to not over exhaust their bodies or get sick. This extra oxygen in the body, not only creates a distinct advantage for aerobic athletes, but could be the distinction between bronze, silver or gold In fact, some facilities are now being created as low oxygen level houses. The athletes live and sleep inside of the house but train outside where their bodies will take in higher oxygen levels. Yeays, somewhat natural alternative to drug enhancements. Got a burning question you want answered? Ask it in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter. And subscribe for more weekly science videos.

100 Replies to “The Olympic Altitude Advantage”

  1. No. Your one TRUE purpose in life, reproduction, is horrible. In fact, its against the beliefs of Islam, Christianity and Atheism. If I'm not mistaken, People have been assassinated for having sex before. Its true Google it.

  2. We are also dependent on them for balance and stabilisation. They are far from an evolutionary relic with no purpose.

  3. Toes are also important for balance. My grandfather lost a big toe (or possibly both; I don't remember) in an accident (he was a farmer), and it made it more difficult for him to walk quite as balanced as he did before the accident.

  4. So if all is needed in high altitude training is a decrease of oxygen intake. Couldnt you ust run and hold your breath and get the same effect.

  5. maby not maby were all sim charictors in like sims 20 and we have no ancesters exept the ones created by the creator huh huh think about we forget often what we were doing or what we were about to do

  6. No, because they're getting low oxygen. If you run with no oxygen you will pass out and, if done regularly, there is the possibility in having some sort of brain damage. Low oxygen is different than no oxygen.

  7. So, that's why the guy who lived in a cave on Mount Olympus, but came down to trade on either side of the mountain became such a powerful athlete known across the land and subsequently inspired the Olympic games. totally just made that up.

  8. actually those low oxygen level houses were banned because it was considered an unfair advantage seeing as not all athletes had access to them

  9. what happens to are brain and body when we get on a roller coaster? why do we feel weightless in water& its easier to lift heavy things?

  10. Sleep 4 hours one night, find out for yourself. The list would include, however; lack of focus, irritability, depression, suicidal thoughts and actions, speech inhibition, memory inhibition, lack of energy, lack of motivation, loss of social skills, loss of motor skills, tendency to use drugs and alcohol, and an extreme desire to sleep.

  11. It's similar to when you hear trickling water. That has the same sound of pee. When you fell the wetness of the shower it has a similar feel to pee, so you end up needing to pee.

  12. can you explain sea sickness. I get the idea of motion sickness but on a boat I can see and feel that I'm moving but I still get sick. why is this?

  13. A few questions but please answer one of them. The science if taste buds, communication, fear, if heat rises then why is high elevation like mountain tops so cold especially if its closer to the sun? And psychologically healing yourself.

  14. This video was very interesting
    So anyway here's my question: what is the science of and social and evolutionary origin of gossip and bullying? It has been known to occur for generations but what fascinates me is where it came from. Did our early hominid ancestors engage in it and was it for a specific function?

  15. Hello, I am Mongolian and Mongolia's average altitude is 1560 m which is quite high. Now I live in Sweden and compared with Swedish people, I almost never get tired. Can I then asume that this is connected with this video 😀 

  16. Please someone answer this! So I live in Colorado Springs where the elevation is pretty damn low. If I run a 6:12 mile here, how fast will I run one in A place like Georgia (low elevation parts) will it go down drastically?

  17. Good video, I'm travelling from England to California ( Lake Tahoe) for a Spartan race. I only arrive 4 days prior to race! Any recommendations for best way to acclimatise for race in short period ?

  18. I have really low blood pressure (Hypotension) and from watching altitude training videos like this, would it mean that I could possibly "cure" my hypotension by living in higher altitude? I understand that it wouldn't be fixed forever. Also would it be possible that if I lived in a low altitude area and then moved to sea level that having low blood pressure might've been caused by this? I know it sounds like a long shot but it's a just an "if" question cuz I know I got it from my dad.
    PS I was born and lived in Mexico for awhile and I've heard it's a little lower than sea level (hence why some cities are literally sinking) and now I live in Vancouver

  19. I grew up in a town at 6,700 ft, then moved to the mile high (≈5,000 ft) Denver. I was just in London (115 ft) where I walked all day, thinking "damn, I'm so fit!" So when we come back home I decided to walk a mile to the shoe store where reality slapped me and reminded me "no, you're not fit, you lazy bum."

  20. If i go to the mountain everyday (2860msnm) to train one hour and then go back to do my normal life at sea lvl, that will increase my cardio?

  21. here's a question I want u to put in video for me to understand.
    the atmosphere above high mountain has a lower concentration of oxygen than the atmophere at sea level ? suggest why this will affect oxygen in the blood and also the activity of mountain climbers answer .

    answer this for me

  22. does this effect the way that you brain works. If you use an altitude mask will you have better cognative performance?

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