Sports Medicine

, Volume 47, Issue 10, pp 1931–1949 | Cite as

Effects of Altitude/Hypoxia on Single- and Multiple-Sprint Performance: A Comprehensive Review

  • Olivier GirardEmail author
  • Franck Brocherie
  • Grégoire P. Millet
Review Article


Many sport competitions, typically involving the completion of single- (e.g. track-and-field or track cycling events) and multiple-sprint exercises (e.g. team and racquet sports, cycling races), are staged at terrestrial altitudes ranging from 1000 to 2500 m. Our aim was to comprehensively review the current knowledge on the responses to either acute or chronic altitude exposure relevant to single and multiple sprints. Performance of a single sprint is generally not negatively affected by acute exposure to simulated altitude (i.e. normobaric hypoxia) because an enhanced anaerobic energy release compensates for the reduced aerobic adenosine triphosphate production. Conversely, the reduction in air density in terrestrial altitude (i.e. hypobaric hypoxia) leads to an improved sprinting performance when aerodynamic drag is a limiting factor. With the repetition of maximal efforts, however, repeated-sprint ability is more altered (i.e. with earlier and larger performance decrements) at high altitudes (>3000–3600 m or inspired fraction of oxygen <14.4–13.3%) compared with either normoxia or low-to-moderate altitudes (<3000 m or inspired fraction of oxygen >14.4%). Traditionally, altitude training camps involve chronic exposure to low-to-moderate terrestrial altitudes (<3000 m or inspired fraction of oxygen >14.4%) for inducing haematological adaptations. However, beneficial effects on sprint performance after such altitude interventions are still debated. Recently, innovative ‘live low-train high’ methods, in isolation or in combination with hypoxic residence, have emerged with the belief that up-regulated non-haematological peripheral adaptations may further improve performance of multiple sprints compared with similar normoxic interventions.


Hypobaric Hypoxia Blood Flow Restriction Sprint Performance Normobaric Hypoxia Simulated Altitude 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors thank Liam Hobbins for the English revision of the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards


No sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this article.

Conflict of interest

Olivier Girard, Franck Brocherie and Grégoire P. Millet have no conflicts of interest directly relevant to the content of this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Aspetar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine HospitalAthlete Health and Performance Research CentreDohaQatar
  2. 2.Laboratory Sport, Expertise and Performance (EA 7370), Research DepartmentFrench Institute of Sport (INSEP)ParisFrance
  3. 3.ISSUL, Institute of Sport SciencesUniversity of LausanneLausanneSwitzerland

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