T Nation

Training for Elevation

Guys need some insight.

I live almost at sea level. I head to mountains every fall to hunt. Sometimes ascending 6k a day to about the 10-11k mark then back down off the mountain the same day.

I always STRUGGLE. can’t ever catch my breathe unless standing still. Bout blacked out a couple times.

Im already going into this fall in better shape than last year for sure but does anyone have any suggestions as to better prepare for the elevation change?

I’ve upped the amount of cardio that I do but still feel under prepared.

I spose i could breathe through a straw while doing my cardio…

Thanks for the help. I know you guys have something up your sleeves…

Short answer is no.

Longer answer:

You will expend more energy in higher altitude, so be prepared with extra carbs and water.

Train “similar”. Get as much hill practice as you can.

Sine you are hunting, bring a pack that is about 5-10 kg heavier (work up to it if needed) when you train. Similar, if you carry your gun, carry a weight in your hands.

Get there a few days earlier.

Alcohol on the last day only. You don’t need thinner blood or be dehydrated.

Been through Mountain Warfare Training, as JFG stated, you MUST stay hydrated. Lack of sufficent fluids will leave you sick and impair your ability to think. You will need a large amount of carbs, this is no place for watching your diet. I hate candy, but, this is the one area where Snickers bars can be a life saver.

If you are talking about elk hunting this season, it is too late to recommend a training program. Just take in plenty of fluids and carbs. Just as important and usually the number one hunt killer: Do you have a good pair of boots? well broke in? and no cotton socks. Just some thoughts.

I live and work at 8000 feet in Mammoth Lake, ca and can tell you from a physiological standpoint that your heart rate and respiration will increase dramatically for the first 72hours+. Your sleep will not be the same and you will need to pace yourself much better.

I had worked two years as Ski Patrol at Mammoth Mountain and the stories of how many people drove up the night before, skied and partied and then passed out are way to numerous…

As others had stated, HYDRATE ! Keep the fluids flowing that are NOT alcohol based ; ) Keep a good supply of food intake coming in…
remember that your body is trying to compansate for the altitude by increasing heart rate, breathing and metabolism.

As far as training. Try to get to a point where you are carrying 10-15% MORE that what you expect to carry at altitude in terms of weight.
IF your pack for the trip is 50# try to work up to the point that you can carry 60# for the same distance at sea level…

Good luck and happy hunting…

Thanks guys, I’ve got the hydration part, no problem there.

the pack is loaded and has been all summer with about double the weight i will be carrying.

I can hike around at 1000k elevation all day with the pack, no problem. I just dont have any hills. Biggest hill might be a 2% grade for 20-30ft.

Ive been spending a lot of time on my incline trainer treadmill and can set the incline to 40%. I just dont feel its the same as actually being outside on the mountain.

The guy i hunt with is a runner, 10-15 miles a day. Runs a few full marathons throughout the year. He kicks my ass every damn time! Really burns me up that i cant keep up or that im sucking wind and he isnt.

I’d say the 2 of us are close in body fat %. I’ll say that im a couple percent more than him but not much. I am about 50lbs heavier and 4-5 inches taller though.

I always get where i want to go but i certainly struggle more than my buddy.

3 weeks to adapt… longer for most. google adapting to altitude…all the articles say 3 weeks to 6 months… read all the articles…your body goes thru a whole lot… people that go a few days early and say they are adapted are full of crap…you are still going to hurt no matter how many carbs you eat and how much fluids you take in…just do the best you can… you’ll make it, but you wont be adapted…

IMO do some hypoxic training and learn what hikers call the rest step along w/ how to control/manage your breathing better?

Loaded step ups. Put 30-40lbs in a ruck/pack, and use at least a 16" step. Alternate feet each time you step up, throw in the headphones, and put 10-12 small stones in your hand. Each 100 steps, drop one. If you can’t do 1000-1200, start with 500 and take a break. Your legs/lungs will get a workout.

  • I’ve only screwed around with a ‘gas’ (protective) mask a few times in order to increase respiratory muscles while rowing and footmarching, and it sucked. Maybe others on here have more experience with that but it is also something to consider.

The problem with the “Dreadmill” is that it pulls your legs back for you, so it takes the lower back, glutes, hamstrings and gastros out of the workload. A stairmaster is a wicked little devil provided you load your pack up with the weight that you will be carrying.

3 weeks does seem to be the minimum amount of length to “start” to really acclimatize to altitude.

Living at 8000ft I always find it funny how people will come up for a 5-8 day training camp and think they are getting some huge benefit.

Sure, psychologically they are…but physiologically you are still 14 days away…alas.

[quote]killerDIRK wrote:
The problem with the “Dreadmill” is that it pulls your legs back for you, so it takes the lower back, glutes, hamstrings and gastros out of the workload. A stairmaster is a wicked little devil provided you load your pack up with the weight that you will be carrying.

3 weeks does seem to be the minimum amount of length to “start” to really acclimatize to altitude.

Living at 8000ft I always find it funny how people will come up for a 5-8 day training camp and think they are getting some huge benefit.

Sure, psychologically they are…but physiologically you are still 14 days away…alas.[/quote]

High altitude training, made popular after the '68 Olympics in Mexico City. And just like carb loading (an excuse to pig out on pasta the day before), people misuse it and/or don’t understand the concept.

This is more of a question than a suggestion, but would getting an elevation mask and wearing it while training help?

[quote]bdocksaints75 wrote:
This is more of a question than a suggestion, but would getting an elevation mask and wearing it while training help? [/quote]

All those fancy masks are beaucoup dolares>nothing’s cheaper than free. For hypoxic training I hold my breath during sets while lifting, jumping rope, etc.