Time course of the hemoglobin mass response to natural altitude training in elite endurance cyclists

Laura Garvican, David Martin, M Quod, B Stephens, A Sassi, Christopher Gore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Citations (Scopus)


To determine the time course of hemoglobin mass (Hbmass) to natural altitude training, Hbmass, erythropoietin [EPO], reticulocytes, ferritin and soluble transferrin receptor (sTfR) were measured in 13 elite cyclists during, and 10 days after, 3 weeks of sea level (n55) or altitude (n58, 2760 m) training. Mean Hbmass, with a typical error of 2%, increased during the first 11 days at altitude (mean standard deviation 2.9 2.0%) and was 3.5 2.5% higher than baseline after 19 days. [EPO] increased 64.2 18.8% after 2 nights at altitude but was not different from baseline after 12 nights. Hbmass and [EPO] did not increase in sea level. Reticulocytes (%) were slightly elevated in altitude at Days 5 and 12 (18.9 17.7% and 20.4 25.3%), sTfR was elevated at Day 12 (18.9 15.0%), but both returned to baseline by Day 20. Hbmass and [EPO] decreased on descent to sea level while ferritin increased. The mean increase in Hbmass observed after 11 days ( 300 h) of altitude training was beyond the measurement error and consitent with the mean increase after 300 h of simulated live high:train low altitude. Our results suggest that in elite cyclists, Hbmass increases progressively with 3 weeks of natural altitude exposure, with greater increases expected as exposure persists.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalScandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


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