Training for altitude when you're a low-lander

Have a friend who will be going on an MTB tour in Colorado, 7000 ft and up elevation. We live near sea level, but do experience more heat and humidity than Colorado ever sees (near Philly).

We were chatting about training for the trip (vacation but he takes it seriously for fear of being weakest in the group).

I heard someone when in this situation, they were training for Leadville and purposely went out during the hottest time of day to kind-a-sorta simulate the elevation. Any physiologists have thoughts on that?

BTW, he’s not serious enough to rent an altitude tent :smile:

Heat acclimatization will certainly help with an increase in plasma volume which will benefit at elevation. Google “Dr. Chris Minson heat training” and you’ll find a bunch of his stuff. It sounds like there are some significant overlaps between elevation and heat acclimatization.

We have several guides about altitude training.

Perhaps your friend would join Fast Talk Labs as a monthly member!

@Ted_Jones, yeah that east coast humidity can get up there! We’re used to our 20% here in Colorado, but hitting a massive 45% today :sweat_smile:

+1 to @robertehall1’s comment about training in the heat as a benefit. Where in Colorado will the MTB tour take you?

One other suggestion would be to adjust current training ranges to accommodate the ascent to altitude as you get closer to the departure, knowing there will be some decline. Also, if you do include some heat training, know that you don’t have to ride hard in the heat to get adaptations. Riding too hard in the heat can leave you feeling pretty spent and can impact your ability to recover.

I’m tagging @ThermalDoc on this one too for his expertise on the topic!

Hi all, apologies for the delay in getting back onto the forum. There certainly are some new emerging studies about cross-adaptation between heat and altitude responses. The studies are limited but intriguing, and also a bit equivocal at this stage. Some very extended 5-6 weeks heat acclimation studies suggest that one chronic response is a slight increase in total hemoglobin mass, which of course is one of the primary chronic responses to altitude. The physiological basis is that both Heat Shock Protein (HSP) and Hypoxic Inducible Factor (HIF) are somewhat misnomers and are responsive to stress in general rather than only to its specific environment.
So heat adaptation may provide some pre-adaptation to altitude. I always feel that heat adaptation in general is a good thing for most endurance athletes, because it’s more about overall physiological improvement whether you’re actually competing in heat or in other environmental stress.

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@ThermalDoc , I’m interested in some heat training for a stage race late summer. Could you suggest a protocol to accomplish and maintain heat acclimatization? I will be using a hot tub. I was thinking of 1 hour at 104F, 3X per week in the last 3 weeks before my race. I’m thinking it will take me about a month to work up to tolerating 1 hr at that temperature. Thoughts?