European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 118, Issue 2, pp 419–428 | Cite as

Live high–train low guided by daily heart rate variability in elite Nordic-skiers

  • Laurent Schmitt
  • Sarah J. Willis
  • Anthony Fardel
  • Nicolas Coulmy
  • Gregoire P. Millet
Original Article



To analyze if live high–train low (LHTL) effectiveness is improved when daily training is guided by heart rate variability (HRV).


Twenty-four elite Nordic skiers took part in a 15-day LHTL study and were randomized into a HRV-guided training hypoxic group (H-HRV, n = 9, sleeping in normobaric hypoxia, FiO2 = 15.0%) and two predefined training groups sleeping either in hypoxia (H, n = 9, FiO2 = 15.0%) or normoxia (N, n = 6). HRV and training loads (TL) were recorded daily. Prior (Pre), one (Post-1), and 21 days (Post-21) following LHTL, athletes performed a 10-km roller-ski test, and a treadmill test for determination of \(\dot {V}{{\text{O}}_{{\text{2max}}}}\) was performed at Pre and Post-1.


Some HRV parameters measured in supine position were different between H-HRV and H: low and high (HF) frequency power in absolute (ms2) (16.0 ± 35.1 vs. 137.0 ± 54.9%, p = 0.05) and normalized units (− 3.8 ± 10.1 vs. 53.0 ± 19.5%, p = 0.02), HF(nu) (6.3 ± 6.8 vs. − 13.7 ± 8.0%, p = 0.03) as well as heart rate (3.7 ± 6.3 vs. 12.3 ± 4.1%, p = 0.008). At Post-1, \(\dot {V}{{\text{O}}_{{\text{2max}}}}\) was improved in H-HRV and H (3.8 ± 3.1%; p = 0.02 vs. 3.0 ± 4.4%; p = 0.08) but not in N (0.9 ± 5.1%; p = 0.7). Only H-HRV improved the roller-ski performance at Post-21 (− 2.7 ± 3.6%, p = 0.05).


The daily individualization of TL reduced the decrease in autonomic nervous system parasympathetic activity commonly associated with LHTL. The improved performance and oxygen consumption in the two LHTL groups confirm the effectiveness of LHTL even in elite endurance athletes.


Hypoxia HRV Endurance performance 



Analysis of variance


Fast Fourier transform


Inspired fraction of oxygen




High-frequency power


High-frequency power in normalized units


Hemoglobin mass


Heart rate


Heart rate variability


Low-frequency power


Low-frequency power in normalized units


Live high–train low




Partial pressure of inspired oxygen


Questionnaire of the French Society of Sports Medicine


Pulse oxygen saturation


Training load

\({\dot {V}_{\text{E}}}\)/\(\dot {V}{\text{C}}{{\text{O}}_2}\)

Ventilatory equivalent of carbon dioxide

\({\dot {V}_{\text{E}}}\)/\(\dot {V}{{\text{O}}_2}\)

Ventilatory equivalent of oxygen

\(\dot {V}{{\text{O}}_{{\text{2max}}}}\)

Maximal oxygen consumption


First ventilatory threshold


Second ventilatory threshold



We thank the athletes of the French national Nordic-combined and Cross-country skiing (men and women) teams and their coaches: for Nordic-combined—Jérôme Laheurte and Cyril Michaud-Fidey; for cross-country skiing—Vincent Vittoz and Thibaut Chene.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laurent Schmitt
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sarah J. Willis
    • 2
  • Anthony Fardel
    • 2
  • Nicolas Coulmy
    • 3
  • Gregoire P. Millet
    • 2
  1. 1.National School of Mountain Sports/National Ski-Nordic CentrePremanonFrance
  2. 2.ISSUL, Institute of Sport Sciences, Faculty of Biology and MedicineUniversity of LausanneLausanneSwitzerland
  3. 3.French Ski FederationAnnecyFrance

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