Durban – Having been named in the South African team to the MTB World Championships in Hafjell in Norway in September, Kargo Pro MTB rider Rourke Croeser is using controlled sessions training in a simulated high altitude chamber to sharpen his conditioning.
Working with his coach/manager Shaun Peschl in the lead up to the national championships this weekend, Croeser has been training in the hypoxic chamber at Prime Human Performance Institute at the Moses Mabhida stadium as he aims to peak for the event that he has been prioritising this year.
“The SA champs was a big goal that we set out in week one of our training,” said Croeser. “More importantly we are aiming for consistency, for both myself personally and the whole team.”
Croeser was enthusiastic about the opportunity to train in the hypoxic chamber during the week leading up to the SA champs.
“It is one of the untouched secrets in cycling!”, he said. “A lot of people don’t really know the benefits, and just how many benefits can be handled by a particular athlete.”
“I respond well to it and I believe it is a good way to get that extra little marginal gain that you are looking for.”
For Peschl the advantages of training in the simulated high altitude environment are clear, having worked in the hypoxic chamber at Prime for more than a year, using the Watt bikes for training in a variety of different simulated high altitude conditions.
Peschl says for elite athletes the best results come from using the chamber training in short bursts and high intensity in the key build-up phase to a major event.
“As technology grows we are able to get more science from this side of it and the proof is in the pudding, there are benefits to training in a hypoxic environment.
“We are looking forward to using it for the Kargo Pro MTB team. There is no doubt that it will assist the athletes, obviously taking into account that different athletes will respond differently.
Peschl is clear that for his elite athletes the benefits were more marked from short bursts of high quality training rather than training in the hypoxic environment on an ongoing basis.
“You are not trying to acclimatise, you are placing your body under stress, and it learns how to adapt to that stress and recover, and ultimately this improves its ability to deal with lactic acid demands.”
Peschl said that athletes preparing for events to be held at high altitude benefited more mentally than physically from training in a hypoxic environment.
“You know that when you are breathing at a certain heart rate that there is nothing wrong, it is normal, and you can push to the limits with confidence,” said Peschl.
He added that there also a lot of evidence of benefits for the more recreational riders.
“Training for one hour at 2500m above sea level is the equivalent of training for two and a half hours at sea level. I have a number of weekend warriors riders that I have been training who came back from the sani2c saying it was there best rider ever, and the only difference was their training in the hypoxic chamber.”