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Intermittent hypoxia: recovery method and performance improvement

Intermittent hypoxia is a training method increasingly used in sports performance to improve oxygen transport and increase the Fat Max. However, very few use hypoxia training as a method of recovery.

Our collaborator Reebok Performance tells us in this article the benefits of hypoxia in recovery and in improving performance

Training in hypoxia and autonomic nervous system

The autonomic nervous system controls the involuntary actions, such as heart rate, dilate the pupils or sweat. It's divided in Nice (the one that prepares us for the action) and Parasympathetic (the one that allows us to regenerate and save energy).

Autonomic nervous system

Usually the altitude or hypoxia training It is unified, but there really are four very different ways of doing it:

  1. Concentrations in height (with option to train up or down)
  2. Sleeping in store with normobaric hypoxia
  3. Training in height or with simulated height
  4. Intermittent hypoxia Resting

La stay in height represents a activation of the sympathetic nervous system Regarding normoxia conditions, both in exercise and at rest.

However, the method of intermittent hypoxia supposes the opposite and activates the parasympathetic nervous system from the first session, being one of the great unknown benefits of this system.

Parasympathetic nervous system

Intermittent hypoxia at rest and recovery

The use of intermittent hypoxia at rest is a pleasurable experience and the usual thing is to get a feeling of drowsiness that activates the recovery as soon as possible.

It does not mean no detriment to performance since it does not interfere with the usual training and also supposes a better recovery of workouts due to its positive effect on the autonomic nervous system, post-effort vasodilatation and increased capillarization (something that will especially help the most veteran athletes). We will have ability to train more without risks.

When working in intermittent hypoxia at rest we activate the benefits of the hypoxia method, but without feeling the loss of short-term performance what the other methods suppose. There is even research that shows that this method rapidly improves the symptoms of over-training with only 12 sessions (Susta 2015).

Proposal to use the intermittent hypoxia method at rest

  • With an adequate protocol will increase health and performance. Usually from the 5 session you already feel the benefits typical of hypoxia, but from the first we can feel that improves the quality of sleep and how we better recover the training session.
  • It is not necessary to wait to do it in the competition period, The sooner the training is done, the better it is to take advantage of all the benefits during the most demanding moments of planning.
  • Resting hypoxia sessions can be done at any time of the day, but they are especially beneficial post-training to accelerate the recovery (method that we are used in tests by stages in cyclists) or in the habitual relax moments, like the nap or before sleep improving sleep quality.
  • The use of machines hypoxia-hyperoxia are more efficient to increase the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system.

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