Training Plan for High Elevation Athletes

As someone who lives at 7350 feet, training full time here, sometimes racing at similar elevations but mostly elevations in the 4000-5500 foot range, is there any benefit to modifying training plans? Or do I just continue on at my home elevation FTP? Is there any value in doing anaerobic intervals with longer recovery to initiate adaptation to higher power, so the body can utilize this at a lower elevation? Or even a VO2 max workout with longer recovery intervals. Or do I just continue on with the prescribed plans and hope that my muscles will be able to respond to increased oxygen delivery at lower elevations?

I try to go lower in elevation for outdoor intervals when I can but trainer rides are done at the house.

I used to live around 5000 feet, train up to 8000, and did everything pretty normally.

Made it awesome when I was sitting in a peloton down at sea level.

I’m in a very similar situation living at 8,100 ft elevation (was normally training at 4,500 ft) with no option to train at a lower elevation. I performed a 20 min FTP test at 8,100 ft and sampled various workouts to see how I responded. While I may not be at my “optimal” FTP, it’s a solid basis and I’ve been able to complete every workout at 100% intensity. Just recently started up Sweet Spot Base I and it’s been great so far.

I don’t know how it’ll go when racing at lower elevations in the spring but the important part is just staying focused on the plan and making continual improvements. Fingers crossed for “free watts” lower down but time will tell.

Having said this… I’m focusing more on nutrition, hydration, recovery, and sleep. More calories and more sleep have been crucial for me to stay on top of it. Also, higher cadences have been good for me.

1 Like

Up at Snowbird full time? Interesting spot.

Yea, I agree you just adjust the ftp to the right basis and do the best you can, but I do wonder if altering the plans from that with more frequent anaerobic repeats with bigger rest intervals might be fruitful for racing in a more oxygen rich environment.

I have definitely seen the need for higher calories. I’ve dropped a couple pound by accident (although I think some injuries limiting my weight training dragging on has contributed there). But my WHOOP strap definitely shows the need for a ton of calories, to the point that it has been over exaggerated as my body has been acclimating for 3 weeks. I came from 800 feet.

1 Like

Yes, I’m up at Snowbird full time. Moved up here at the end of April so for all of late spring and summer I would just go down canyon and follow the standard “sleep high train low” protocol.
Now being forced into “live high train high” with the shorter days I’ve been adapting over the past month.

I had a similar thought process with the anaerobic repeats; however, regardless of duration of rest intervals I know I still simply cannot produce the same high end power that I could at sea level. Rather than tinkering with workouts I’m just going to dig through SSBI & SSBII, go through the build phase as well, and then by the time I would be in the specialty phase it’ll finally be time to where I can ride outdoors again and drop down in elevation.

This will be my first full year at significant altitude so it’s very much going to be a trial run on how my body takes it. For me recognizing any signs of overtraining or exhaustion will be key and not let my pride and Type A personality get in the way. Like I mentioned though, all workouts have been at 100% intensity thus far so I’m hoping that remains the case. First week was brutal sampling various workouts but now it feels normal as I’ve started Sweet Spot Base I mid volume.

Best of luck, hope it works out well for us! And yes, calories, calories, calories, those first few weeks of training until you feel balanced out!