GREG COMBS: MAG 7 Dramatically Improves Cyclists' Performances
This is the second of a series of articles about ways to improve your performance on the bike.
As mentioned previously, my motivation for writing these columns is that I am tired of learning about professional athletes getting caught taking performance-enhancing drugs or being accused of cheating to increase their athletic performance. There are so many ways to improve your performance and at the same time take the high ground.
I recently began using the Higher Peak Mountain Air Generator (MAG) 7 as a means to increase my performance through simulated altitude conditions. Through research and working with my clients, I learned that simulated altitude training enhances overall athletic capabilities at both high-altitude and sea-level environments. By using the MAG 7, I have learned that my athletes and I have increased our VO2 MAX functions, ranging from 3 to 10 percent.
So, you may ask, What does 3 percent in VO2 MAX really mean?
In terms of cycling, a 3 percent improvement would equal completing a 40-kilometer time trial event 78 seconds faster if it normally would take you an hour to complete. If you were to compete in an Ironman competition, you would see a great improvement in your overall time by finishing the 2.4-mile swim four minutes faster if it normally would take 60 minutes. The 112-mile bike at 20 mph would normally take you 5 hours and 40 minutes, but you would improve this time by finishing in 5:20. At an eight-minute mile pace during the marathon you would normally finish in 3:46. With MAG 7 you would finish nearly 11 minutes faster.
You may also ask, How does the MAG 7 work? It is actually a hypoxicator that limits air through an air separator to simulate higher altitude conditions. It basically removes some of the oxygen from sea-level air to simulate the same concentration of oxygen you would breathe at high altitude. By using the MAG 7, your body will begin to manifest changes in several ways. The most notable changes are the production of red blood cells and new capillaries (small blood vessels) to increase the transfer of oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. During this process a natural hormone is involved, called erythropoietin (EPO).
The reason why using the MAG 7 is safe and legal is because it is very different from using steroids or synthetic EPO, because you are not gaining performance at the point of a needle. By taking a short cut through injecting doses of synthetic EPO into one's self will overwhelm the body's regulatory systems and cause a dramatic and unnatural response within the body, throwing it dangerously out of balance. However, simulated altitude training maximizes the body's natural abilities.
There are three primary ways to use the MAG 7.
One method is what is called "Live High Train Low" training. The athlete can sleep in a reduced-oxygen atmosphere (an altitude tent) and then train at normal altitude.
Another training protocol is what is called "Hypoxic Workouts." These workouts are accomplished via short training sessions of 20-30 minutes at moderate intensity and breathing low oxygenated air through a mask.
The third method using the MAG 7 is through "Intermittent Hypoxic Training (IHT)." Following the IHT procedure provides faster results in altitude training by doing short intervals of breathing low oxygen air in through a mask such as "on and off" for five minutes for a total of 90 minutes for three to five times per week.
By using any of the above methods with the MAG 7, will stimulate the production of new red blood cells is stimulated. The primary reason I became interested in simulated altitude training is because each of the above methods also provides distinct advantages depending on the phases of training and competitive environments that my athletes are involved in.
So far, I have talked only about the benefits of simulated altitude training. However, there can be some drawbacks. The main concern with simulated altitude training is you can have symptoms of mountain sickness if you do not acclimatize according to the Higher Peak prescribed protocols or if you have a medical condition. The first step is to get a checkup from your physician before using simulated altitude training. Another possible drawback for some people is the price. The MAG 7 costs approximately $2,200. However, this cost is cheaper than traveling back-and-forth to higher altitudes, and is also more effective than training and living at altitude.
Simulated altitude training is being used in other ways, as well. I found that medical research is being conducted using IHT as an integrated treatment program for patients undergoing radiation and chemotherapy, as well as asthma and diabetic patients. Since I live in "horse country," I would also like to point out that many competitive equestrians are using simulated altitude training on their endurance and event horses. Furthermore, many professional athletes such as the New England Patriots use simulated altitude training for competition at high-atitude stadiums, say, for instance, when they are scheduled to play against the Denver Broncos, and at sea level competition to maintain explosive power during the entire game.
I would not recommend using simulated altitude training if you are a recreational athlete, or just getting started into competing. However, athletes that are dedicated to their sport and have invested the proper amount of time in preparation would benefit greatly. For more information about the MAG 7 and the MAG 10 visit www.higherpeak.com or call (781) 632-3022.
Greg Combs is a cyclist and coach for more than 30 years. He is also the director of the Sport Management Program at Methodist University in Fayetteville. For more information browse www.velosmart.com or e-mail him at email@example.com
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