Sleeping Through the Next Performance-Enhancing Protocol

Sleeping Through the Next Performance-Enhancing Protocol

Sleeping Through the Next Performance-Enhancing Protocol

By Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N.

With the NCAA trying to level the playing field so big time elite schools with big supporters who donate big bucks can''t bulk up their athletes anymore with expensive supplements, schools are looking for that next enhancing performance technique.

The New Kid on the block has already been adopted by a number of elite professional athletes such as Lance Armstrong (and his U.S Postal team member); the Nike Elite Distance Running Team, the U.S. Olympic Swim Team, the Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Flyers. All you have to do is sleep in altitude acclimatization equipment like Colorado Altitude Training Mountain RoomT for three or four weeks and can increase your performance by increasing your stamina and endurance.


Why do you think many elite athletes move to Colorado or the Alps or to an area where they can train in altitude? The theory is that if you live at high altitude and train at low altitude, you may be able to increase your speed and endurance. So, by using this latest technology known as hypoxic training or altitude simulation training, no matter where you live, you can "live-high and train low" by sleeping in a reduced oxygen atmosphere typical of altitude while training at sea level where oxygen is plentiful and get the same benefits as living in altitude. The live high train low protocol dates back to a technique utilized by Russian scientists during World War II to acclimatize pilots to the stress of high altitudes encountered when flying in open-cockpit planes. Research over the years following this early protocol, had led to the development of the altitude tent in 1997 by Colorado Altitude Training (CAT) founder, Larry Kutt. From small altitude tents to large altitude rooms, CAT has developed systems to meet a multitude of needs - not just in the athletic arena.

Physiologically, one can increase red cell mass, erythropoietin (EPO), and hemoglobin by this type of hypoxic training . When a person inhales lower-oxygen air, the brain responds to this change and instructs the body to increase pulmonary ventilation thus increasing the production of red blood cells. By increasing the red cell mass and EPO production, the ability to deliver oxygen to the muscles can dramatically be increased. Thus, by boosting the total blood volume, you can move more oxygen through your bloodstream. This results it is an increase in VO2 max, which allows you to have more stamina.

In addition to improved stamina, other benefits may be an increase in strength, reduction in recovery time after sprinting or anaerobic efforts, reduced perceived effort for a given workout so that the athlete can actually work harder. Some research suggests that hypoxic training may also afford the athlete a shorter work out time for the same benefits.


The Colorado Mountain RoomT allows you to live high and train low by converting your bedroom, den, or office into an altitude room. In essence, you can sleep with your spouse, play with your kids, work, train and watch TV all while gaining the competitive advantage of altitude.

According to the product information, using the system is easy. All you have to do is set and control the altitude in 200-foot increments for safe acclimatization. Typically, you start off at about 7,500 feet, increasing altitude every couple of days until you reach an altitude of 12,000 - 15,000 feet - the optimal altitude for boosting natural EPO production and red blood cell mass, according to the company. The Colorado Altitude Training Company suggests using their room for at least 6 - 8 hours at a time you can start improving performance within two weeks.


All tent systems include a medical grade high-flow air unit and an oxygen sensor which helps you to reach and maintain target altitude. The sensor transmits data to the control panel so you can maintain proper oxygen levels for the desired altitude. Each room contains a CO 2 sensor to insure safe levels of carbon dioxide. In addition, there is a barometric pressure sensor/altimeter, which allows the equipment to be used at any location at any altitude. Also, each system comes equipped with alarms to alert users of any unsafe conditions have developed.


  • Portable System - sets up quickly, easily transportable in a rolling travel case. Fits up to a queen size bed. From: $5995.
  • Standard Tent System - includes new, high-flow oxygen generator, 7 X 7 X 6 - fits a queen size bed, easily fits in bedroom, optional travel package. Can accommodate a queen size bed. From: $7495.
  • King Size Tent System - includes new, high-flow oxygen generator, 9 X 7 X 6 - largest tent available, doors on both sides, optional travel package. From: $7750.

If you can''t afford any of the tents or just want try before you buy you can lease the tent. There is a 3-month minimum commitment with a 12-month maximum lease term. All lease payments may be applied toward the purchase of the applicable system. The lease payments are from $495 per month to $750 per month depending on the system. For more information about the Colorado Mountain Room go to or 1-877-ALTITUDE.


Intermittent hypoxic training protocol requires that a person sit comfortably for about an hour breathing regular air then hypoxic air during intermittent periods. The companies that provide the intermittent systems suggest that from their research, hypoxic training performance increases are due to the number of transitions from low to high and back, not the hours spent at altitude. These systems are generally less expensive than the tents or rooms.

Intermittent systems available on the market include and for altitude tents, rooms and intermittent hypoxic training systems.


If you have been following the Tour de France, several of the cyclists have been banned from competition because they have been using the illegal drug EPO. EPO is a banned doping substance, which is an injectible substance. However, if the altitude tents do their job properly then one could successfully increase their red blood cell mass and EPO naturally. So what''s with that? OIC is currently looking at use of the altitude tent with caution. The athletes contend that using an altitude tent is nothing more than leveling the playing field for an athlete who can''t afford to live and train at altitude. But what about the athletes who can''t afford expensive altitude tents? The controversy continues in the world of athletics. As these tents become more affordable and more widely used, the governing bodies of sports will have to deal with the tents at some point.

Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N., is the publisher and nutrition editor of KHF and a runner, cyclist and hiker.

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