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Training in altitude with Cindy Montambault

You are an athlete and you want to achieve better results? Altitude training might help! Cindy Montambault, professional cyclist, answers our questions!

Why is it important for an athlete to train in altitude?

Not everyone reacts to altitude training the same. Some people don’t even feel the difference!

For those who react positively, training in altitude can be very useful!

If you want to prepare for a competition, living in altitude for 3 weeks is perfect since it allows your body to get used to your environment. However, in altitude, you can’t train as hard as you would at sea level because your efforts (watts) are less intense and the recovery is slower. That’s why some people use the expression “sleep high - train low”! After 3 weeks, the body finally gets used to it and you are ready to compete in altitude!

When you go back to sea level, there’s a 3 weeks period when the body has a lot of red-blood cells and this period of time allows the athlete to train more intensely. However, if the training in altitude isn’t properly planned then the athlete can end up being more tired and might need to rest so this can become a disadvantage. It takes time and mistakes to figure out  the best way to train in altitude. Everyone reacts differently to the experience!

What’s the best height to train? Why ?

The ideal is to live and train at the same height where the competition will be held, or higher! You start feeling the altitude when you’re about 1500m but once again, everyone reacts differently. The higher you are, the longer it takes to get used to it and the effects are hard to handle. I personally like training at around 1800 to 2100m. At this height, there are changes operating in my blood and in my body and I recover properly. It takes me a couple of days to get a good night of sleep, but I usually feel good. Furthermore, my highest competitions for this season are around this height.

Training in altitude with Cindy Montambault

What are the consequences on the body when you train in altitude?

During the trainings or competitions in altitude, we tend to be more out of breath. The heartbeats increase and the effort perception is different. For example, if at sea level an athlete goes until 300W, for the same effort in altitude, the watts will be lower so he will be slower, but the pain will be the same, or sometimes more important. The ideal is to take it slow during the first days in altitude so that the body can get used to it, your training shouldn’t be too intense. That's why during the competition, you usually see the athletes start slowly! Sometimes you want to go too fast and you pay the price at the end of the race!

What does it do to the body when you train in altitude?

If you want a good training, you have to find a place that allows you to go down to sea level to train as well but the travel is really tiring! It’s also difficult for me because I have a very hard time sleeping when I’m in altitude. I sleep less and the quality of my sleep is not that great either. I always need to monitor my recovery hours! After 2 or 3 weeks in altitude, I’m really happy to go down to get a good night of sleep!

A tip for better performances in altitude?

When you are up there, you become dehydrated more easily so my favorite product to use is the BCAA Electro Plus (there are electrolytes that help fight dehydration)!

I also love the pre-workout powders for my interval trainings, whether it’s in altitude or at sea level!