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DIY Altitude Training , does it work??

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Thinking of trying a hypoxia training program. Does this work? I would like to pre adapted to 10k feet and more. When I go from 200ft at home to 7k level to camp I usually feel like a truck ran me over the next morning. This DIY program seems cost effective, I already got most of the stuff to build it. Hope to be able to run up over Rainier while every one else is up chucking and gasping for air...:)

Edited by DanO

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Hard pass for me:

Please read this section carefully, as it is not simply a liability disclaimer. 

  • Like any form of training, altitude training has some inherent risks associated with it. It's a good idea to talk to your physician before starting any new form of training. If you have any concerns or possible medical issues, you should discuss altitude training with your relevant medical professional. 
  • I have not found a clear, approved list of contraindications, but the following symptoms are listed as reasons why you should not perform altitude training without explicit medical approval.
    • Acute infections.
    • Severe Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
    • Epilepsy.
    • High blood pressure, such as over 145 systolic or over 90 diastolic.
    • Low blood pressure, such as under 80 systolic or under 50 diastolic.
    • Heart disease, pacemakers or irregular heartbeat.
    • Blood disorders, such as sickle cell anemia.
    • Anemia.
  • I have seen no research on the effect of altitude training on pregnancy, but it would seem prudent to avoid altitude training if you are pregnant or believe that you maybe.
  • If you are using altitude training to treat a specific medical condition such as asthma, sleep apnea, heart disease, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, etc., then consulting your medical specialist is especially vital.
  • It's unclear what the optimum SpO2 level should be, but generally SpO2 levels below 75% are not recommended and should be avoided.
  • Never use the altitude training system without monitoring your SpO2. While there are symptoms of low SpO2, such as lightheadedness or tunnel vision, these are not reliable predictors of a particular SpO2.
  • The soda lime used to absorb the carbon dioxide is corrosive, and inhaling any soda lime is extremely harmful and will cause lung damage. Therefore, never use the hypoxicator without the antiviral filter in place and check the filter is intact.
  • Never attach the mouthpiece to your face. If you should lose consciousness, it's vital that you'll drop the mouthpiece and breathe normal room air. 
  • Having your blood tested to ensure you are not anemic is highly recommended. The standard anemia test is often considered inadequate and instead you should get your serum ferritin levels checked. The range of values considered 'normal' varies between different authorities, but a representative example is 12-300 ng/mL for men and 12-150 ng/mL for women. However, it is recommended that for altitude training serum ferritin levels are above 60 ng/mL. (Remember that iron is toxic, so you need just the right amount. Do not take supplementary iron without knowing for sure that you need it.)
  • The antiviral filter should be replaced periodically, and you should make sure it dries out fully between uses. I typically have 2 to 3 filters that I rotate through to make sure they are completely dry.
  • The mouthpiece should plug directly into the antiviral filter so that there is very little unfiltered air in the system.
  • All tubing and equipment should be cleaned periodically. You really don't want to breathe in any mold or bacteria.
  • The CO2 scrubber can produce Carbon Monoxide, but this appears to only occur if the CO2 scrubber becomes desiccated (dried out) and comes into contact with anesthetic gasses[1]. As altitude training does not involve anesthesia (the primary use of CO2 scrubber), this should not apply. However, if you're concerned, you can use a latest generation scrubber such as Amsorb Plus which does not produce carbon monoxide.


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Might be simpler/cheaper to put a plastic bag over your head and rubber band it around you neck. If you can do 50 laps on Chair Peak in winter without removing it, wearing only running shoes and a wife beater, then you may be ready for the Kukuczka line on K2. Just don't buy your rope used in a Katmandu bazaar.

Edited by bargainhunter
  • LMAO 1

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Thanks Bronco, good reading.  I'm curious though, does climbing Mt. Rainier 3 X week as climbing rangers and guides do carry the same risks and warnings (other than the potential for infections) as using a hypobaric gadget? 

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If you read the Uphill Athlete literature they would advise you to save the money (and energy wasted sleeping like shit in your own bed) and just do way more easy aerobic volume. I find this helpful personally and have had a strong correlation between having lots of endurance and well rested/hydrated and doing great at altitude up to 14k'.

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