Repeated Sprint Training in Hypoxia Improves Speed Endurance

There is an interesting presentation on Repeated Sprint Training in Normobaric Hypoxia by Harvey Galvin (UK) at the Altitude Training and Team Sports Conference in Aspetar, Doha (Qatar) in March 2013.

We know High intensity training in hypoxia can augments peripheral adaptation as well as improves endurance performance.

But what about sprinting? Speed? Speed Endurance?

The Study

They used a 4 week training block, and they found that repeated sprinting in hypoxia significantly increases speed endurance in elite intermittent sport athletes.

Fraction of Inspired Oxygen (FiO2) is the percent of oxygen a patient is inhaling. Room air FiO2 is 21%.  You’ve seen the hospital wards.. by applying supplemental oxygen, the FiO2 can go as high as 100%. (not good when this happens, but hey, if your sick, then take it)

They used a series of 10 x 6 sec sprints, which is typical for reaching maxV in sprinting.

The study did experiment with 5 doses of FiO2:

  • 20.9% 0m
  • 15% 2500m
  • 14% 3200m
  • 13% 3800m
  • 12% 4400m (sig speed drops)

Just for a comparison, Mexico City is at 2240m elevation.

Note in the video below how they jump off the treadmill.. thus the lactate stays put between reps!  (This reminds me of the Sebastian Coe’s hill training where his father would drive him down the hill so Seb didn’t have to walk… which helps flushing of the lactate… and the lactate would stay in the legs… true story or not, it sounds brutal)

In their study, they found 13% FiO2 (3800m) sufficiently for team training to increase physiological stimulus while maintaining speed.

The Presentation

Here is the video on YouTube:

The Conclusions

  • In an applied elite setting, hypoxia compliments pre-season training
  • time efficient workouts means 16 min instead of 45 min of traditional interval training
  • There was an individual variation in response to hypoxia

Jimson Lee

Jimson Lee

Coach & Founder at
I am a Masters Athlete and Coach currently based in London UK. My other projects include the Bud Winter Foundation, writer for the IAAF New Studies in Athletics Journal (NSA) and a member of the Track & Field Writers of America.
Jimson Lee
Jimson Lee
Jimson Lee