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Ho, Meyer in final stages of Rio training

2016-07-07 13:53

Durban – As team South Africa long distance swimmers, Chad Ho and Matthew Meyer are entering the final phase of their build up campaigns to the 2016 Olympic Games which get underway in Rio de Janeiro in less than a month’s time.

The pair continue to place great emphasis on the inclusion of cardiovascular-benefiting simulated altitude training.

Through their involvement in the KZN Department of Sport and Recreation backed Elite Athlete Development Programme, 10km open water competitor and eight time Midmar Mile winner Ho and 1500m freestyle star Meyer have made full use of Prime Human Performance Institute’s hypoxic chamber in recent months, the training technique aiding the in the pair’s conditioning.

"The body responds to stress that it is put under and in order to achieve optimal adaptation, the training exercise needs to be of a high enough intensity to create maximal stress," explains Wayne Holroyd, Prime HPI physiotherapist.

"Training at altitude causes physiological adaptations in the cardiovascular system as well as locally within the muscles being exercised.

"We see a higher exercise tolerance as a result of the altitude training, mostly due to improved oxygen transport and lower lactate production, as well as a quicker recovery after exercise.

"The biggest effect though is a secondary improvement due to the athlete being able to train harder as a result of the higher exercise tolerance and improved recovery."

While the effectiveness of the technique remains unique to each individual, Holroyd is confident that all sportsmen and women across all sporting codes and disciplines can benefit from altitude training.

"We try to simulate each athlete’s sporting requirements as closely as possible, something that is easier to do in some sports than others," he said.

"Despite sprint and endurance athletes having different cardiovascular requirements though, we have seen that by planning each of their training programes differently, both benefit significantly from simulated altitude training."

Holroyd explained the variety of benefits Ho and Meyer, amongst others, enjoy through the hard work they put in in Prime HPI’s simulated altitude chamber.

"When an athlete starts using the room, there is a period of about 3 to 4 weeks where the athlete becomes optimally altitude acclimatised and that period is usually quite intense with 2-3 sessions per week," he said.

"Once they are optimally acclimatised, they then do 1 or 2 sessions a week to maintain the altitude benefits."

The altitude affects a variety of physiological processes in the body, from uptake of oxygen in the lungs and transport to the muscles, to the way the oxygen is used inside the muscles, the by-products that are produced by high intensity exercise in the muscle (mainly lactate), the clearance of lactate out of the muscle cells, and the processing of that lactate within the body.

"Everyone will have some degree of adaptation in all of these areas, although where and how much varies a lot from person to person," added Holroyd.

"Interval training is a very important part of most athletes training and another benefit of altitude training is that it enables athletes to hold a much higher output for each of their intervals, resulting in an enhanced training response."

Ho’s open water Rio challenge takes place on Tuesday, August 16 while Meyer will be in preliminary 1500m Freestyle action on Friday, August 12 with the final taking place the following day.

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