Changes in Training Characteristics and Functions for Swimmers
during a “DuoBa-KunMing” Altitude Training
Yuhong Wen, Yu Ge, Mengxue Zhang
and Yi Peng
Swimming Section, Beijing Sports University, Beijing, China
Keywords: Altitude Training, Swimming, DuoBa, KunMing, Training Characteristic, Function.
Abstract: It’s rare to see studies on altitude training (AT) carries out continuously in 2 altitudes. This study followed a
10 weeks swimming training program that included 2 weeks training in DuoBa (2366M) and another 2 weeks
in KunMing (1890M). The training characteristics and swimmers’ functional changes were studied in seven
swimmers during the training program, just before swimmers participated in the Chinese 12th National
Games. Blood samples, heart rates and weights were collected and analyzed for physiological index.
Conclusion: (1) The training before plateau was mainly about moderate -high intensity aerobic training. In
Duoba, low-moderate and moderate intensity aerobic training was priority. In KunMing, high intensity
aerobic and anaerobic training was increased. After the plateau, recovery and conditioning adjustment are the
main part. (2) This AT has non-significant effect on athletes’ HR level; the body weight has significant
decreased after 3 weeks in plateau and recovered to the common level after a week return to the plain. The
athletes’ hemoglobin and blood testosterone increase significantly in plateau. (3) The great results of all seven
swimmers in the National Game shows that this pattern of AT is an effective way for improving swimmers’
Altitude training can bring athletes simulation of
hypoxia and training load, which was regarded as an
effective training way to improve performance. The
purpose of altitude training before a major
competition is to promote athletes’ peak performance.
The decrease of training intensity after altitude
training will improve performance significantly
(Roberts et al., 1992). Normally altitude training is
performed in a period of time in one location with
high sea levels. In this study, a different pattern was
adopted which separated the altitude training in 2
different locations with different altitudes. It was
aimed to find a more effective way of altitude
training for elite swimmers before an important
7 elite swimmers from Beijing Sport University
(BSU) were studied. All of them have participated in
the swimming competition of Chinese 12
Game, which represented the most important events
with highest performance levels in China. Among
the subjects, there were 2 freestylers, 2 flyers, 2
backstrokers and 1 breaststroker. All of them had
experienced altitude training before.
Table 1: Basic information of the subjects (n=7).
Sex Age (y) Height (cm) Weight (kg)
time (y)
Male 21.57±2.44 183.57±5.03 78.89±6.72 8.29±4.31
The altitude training took place in four different
locations (Table 2) for 10 weeks. Blood samples
were collected and analyzed for blood testosterone
(T), blood urea nitrogen (BUN), hemoglobin (HB)
on 7:00-7:30 every Monday during the period and
after the meet. BHR and weight were recorded every
morning. Eppendorf-6124 semi automatic
biochemical analyzer and blood urea kit produced by
BIO SINO were used.
Wen, Y., Ge, Y., Zhang, M. and Peng, Y..
Changes in Training Characteristics and Functions for Swimmers during a “DuoBa-KunMing” Altitude Training.
In Proceedings of the 3rd International Congress on Spor t Sciences Research and Technology Support (icSPORTS 2015), pages 121-125
ISBN: 978-989-758-159-5
2015 by SCITEPRESS Science and Technology Publications, Lda. All rights reserved
Table 2: 4 phases of the altitude training.
Phase Purpose Location Altitude (M) Period (W)
1 Preparation Beijing 44 3
Extra high
Duoba 2366 2
Moderate high
Kunming 1890 2
4 Tapering Harbin 128 3
3.1 Training Characteristics
Sports’ training is an important part of competitive
sports activities, which is the special organized
sports activities, aiming at improving the athletes'
competitive ability and sports performance (Tian et
al., 2000). Volume and intensity are two factors that
the coaches need to mainly focus on, especially
when the altitude changed. Volume for swimmers is
usually shown as miles.
3.1.1 Changes in Miles
Training load is a method using the physical exercise
as basic means to make the training stimulation work
on athletes’ body (Wu et al., 2001). The changes of
miles during the altitude training aere showed in
figure 1.
Figure 1: Changes of miles.
Miles increased during the 1
2 weeks, which
was a traditional way for altitude training. Then
decreased to make subjects keeping good mental and
physical condition. Miles decreased in the 3
and increased in the following 2 weeks. Miles
decreased in a great amount in the 6
and 7
while intensity improved significantly, so that
swimmers’ ability could be developed at the most
rage. Miles continuously decreased in the last 3
weeks, so that swimmers physical function could be
gradually recovered and peak performance released
in the competition.
3.1.2 Intensity
6 degrees intensity sorts were used to establish load
levels, including aerobic low (EN1), lactate
threshold (EN2), VO2max (EN3), lactic acid
tolerance (SP1), lactic acid production (SP2) and
power (SP3). Changes of miles and intensity were
showed in Table 3.
Table 3: Changes of miles and intensity.
1 44850 75.92 11.15 3.12 3.79 0.22 5.8
2 59900 51.59 29.72 10.68 5.51 0 2.5
3 51350 55.02 26.87 4.87 7.59 1.46 4.19
4 39100 75.58 20.46 0 0 0 3.96
5 61400 51.87 39.58 6.19 0 0 2.36
6 45600 61.4 11.19 20.61 1.97 0.55 4.28
7 43350 67.53 16.49 9.92 1.62 0 4.44
8 38400 60.42 24.22 9.1 0 3.13 3.13
9 36850 66.55 16.83 7.87 5.83 0.95 1.97
10 30750 69.51 20.49 2.44 2.6 2.6 2.36
In Week 2 and 3, percentage of EN2, EN3 and
SP1 were larger than in Week 1, which means the
training arrangement is preparing for the hypoxia
environment of the plateau.
In Week 4 and 5, aerobic intensity training were
the majority part and SP3 training had been added
into the training session at the same time, so that
swimmers’ aerobic capability could be improved as
long as speed ability maintained. In Week 6, EN3,
SP1 and SP2 were highest among the four phases. In
Week 7, the amount of aerobic training was
increasing and the intensity was decreasing, the
fatigue could be relieved so that swimmers could
prepare for the pre-competition training phase.
Week 8 emphasize on EN2, week 9 focus on SP2.
The main purpose of post-altitude training is to
recover and adjust, so swimmers could participate in
the competitions in their best competitive
conditioning. During this phase, training for pace
and speed need to be held with decreasing miles.
3.2 Physiological Index
Physiological index is an important index to evaluate
swimmers’ physical condition. The research
followed swimmers’ BHR and weight to monitor
their physical condition and study the changes’
icSPORTS 2015 - International Congress on Sport Sciences Research and Technology Support
3.2.1 BHR
The heart rate in the morning while people wake up
and lie quietly is called as BHR. When the training
volume is suitable, BHR should be stable; without
any other factors that could affect BHR, if the
fluctuation increase for a period of time, the reason
could be physical fatigue caused by over-trained
(Wang et al., 2002).
Table 4: Changes in BHR (n=7).
Phase 1 Phase2 Phase3 Phase4
53.36 ± 3.09 55.10 ± 2.30 56.88 ± 3.97 52.60 ± 2.70
Resting heart rate can directly reflect the
condition of cardiovascular. BHR in the altitude
training can reflect swimmers’ physical conditioning
(Ga and Liu, 2004). Table 4 shows that BHR in
DuoBa is higher than that in plain, which showed
plateau’s hypoxia environment caused the speed of
body metabolism to increase (P>0.05). In general,
the subjects’ BHR did change in different phases but
without significant difference (P>0.05), which
means this pattern of altitude training didn’t affect
BHR significantly.
3.2.2 Weight
Long term altitude training may cause lean body
weight and fat decrease significantly, and the range
of the decrease was closely related to the altitude.
One study showed that after living in the 4300
meters plateau for 8 days, weight would drop by 3%;
and after living in the 5300-8000 meters plateau for
three months, body weight decreased by 15%.
(Wang et al., 2002). Weight loss will directly affect
sports performance and may result in strength
decrease. Thus it is very necessary to control weight
in altitude training.
Table 5: Changes in body weight (n=7).
Phase1 (kg) Phase2 (kg) Phase3 (kg) Phase4 (kg)
78.89 ± 6.72 78.76 ± 6.91 77.94 ± 6.83 78.70 ±6.87
Table 5 showed that body weight of the subjects
did not lose significantly (P > 0.05) after 2 weeks in
mountain. However, weight lost in the 3
week in
mountain (P < 0.05). Weight began to recover in
sea level training following the mountain.
Throughout the whole period, body weight
significantly decreased only after 3 weeks trained in
the plateau and the weight restored after 1 week left
from the plateau, which mean subjects capacity did
not decrease because of weight loss.
3.3 Hemogram Index
3.3.1 T
T is a male hormone in the body, which has a strong
assimilation effect. (Zhang et al., 2010).
Table 6: Changes of T level (n=7).
After training on the plateau for 2 weeks, the T
levels were significantly higher than that of the plain
(P<0.05), and after 3 weeks, T levels increased
continuously comparing with that 2 weeks (P<0.05).
Karvonen et al., (1990) studied that T falled after 15
days training in the 1860 meters height for 5 national
level male sprinters. Another research showed that 6
swimmers T decreased after training in the height of
1890 meters (P<0.01) (Qian et al., 1993). Zhao et al.
(1997) showed that after altitude training, T level
national rowing team’s significantly decreased (Zhao
et al., 1997). The research of Feng et al., (2000)
showed that during the 4 weeks altitude training
(1917 meters), T level of 6 elite male middle and
long distance runners decreased (Feng et al., 2000).
All the research results above are opposite to the
result in this study. The specific reason could be
related to the training intensity, or the result shows
that the pattern of 2 weeks training in 2366 meters
height and 2 weeks training in 1890 meters height is
better for holding and improving the level of T
during athletes training in altitude.
When coming back to the plain from the plateau,
the seven swimmers’ T level still holds in a relatively
high level. Their T level were apparently higher than
that before the altitude training, even after the
competition (P<0.05).
3.3.2 Bun
BUN is usually used as the index to value protein
decomposition (Zhang et al, 2010). The changes of
swimmers BUN showed in Table 7.
Changes in Training Characteristics and Functions for Swimmers during a “DuoBa-KunMing” Altitude Training
Table 7: Changes in BUN (n=7).
( mmol/L)
After the
5.43 ± 1.95 7.34 ± 1.87 5.86 ± 0.50 6.75 ± 0.84 3.99 ± 0.60
After training in altitude for 2 weeks, BUN
increased significantly (P < 0.05), means training
load in Duoba was huge, decomposition metabolism
of body and protein catabolism increased, body
reaction is significantly higher than that in plain.
Because BUN is an important indicator of the
evaluation of sports load and fatigue degree, the
results could suggest that when trained in Duoba,
swimmers are more likely to feel fatigue. BUN
decreased significantly when swimmers moved to
the relatively low altitude, Kunming, which was
consistent with the decrease of the training load in
this phase.
3.3.3 HB
HB is often used for measuring the concentration of
HB during the training so to value swimmers’
nutritional status and physical function (Zhang et al.,
2010). HB directly affects the body's ability of
obtaining oxygen and aerobic metabolism (Gao and
Liu, 2004).
Table 8: Changes in HB (n=7).
149.14 ±
164.09 ±
163.57 ±
± 8.52
HB significantly improved (P<0.05) after
training in altitude for 2 weeks, and after 3 weeks
training in altitude, HB increased more(P<0.05)
compared with that in 2 weeks; this result is similar
to researchers’ results like Zhao and Xue (2011),
Qian and Wang (2004), which means swimmers had
a good adaptation to the plateau environment, the
aerobic endurance was developed. But in this aspect,
the results of this study are not consistent with some
of the researches. Some researchers believe that
during the early phase of altitude training, HB will
improve significantly, but decline later (Liu and Liu,
2006; Fan, 2008; and Wei, 2007). The different
opinion indicates that there is still controversy about
the changes of HB in the later phase of altitude
training. In this study, subjects moved to a relatively
low altitude from the third week, caused HB
increased significantly later (P<0.05).
Ma et al., (2013) suggested that 2 weeks after the
four-week altitude training in 1900 meters, HB of
seven cyclists was 0.8% lower (Ma et al., 2013).
Even in 5 weeks after altitude training, HB was still
higher than that before.
3.4 Performance
Subjects competed in the National Swimming
Championship in May 2013. The purpose of this
altitude training was preparing for the 12th National
Game that held in September 4, 2013. It is
meaningful to compare the results of the two games,
because the interval between the two games is only
three months and the main training method is this
altitude training.
Table 9: Comparison of major events’ time in 2 games
Time (seconds)
National Games’
Time (seconds)
55.99±4.32 55.70±3.98 0.005
*D-valuereduction value.
Although the times didn’t improve hugely, this
training mode has its positive significance. Altitude
training is like a double-edged sword, applying
before competition is risky. One research suggests
that (Feng, 2009) altitude training is related with
many problems which needs to be further studied.
Currently coaches still use the traditional mode (Li et
al., 2009; Brooks et al., 1991). There are lots of
failed cases of altitude training before. However,
subjects competition results improved, which
indicated a success. Furthermore, subjects in this
study are in high competitive level and had
experienced altitude training, the results suggested
that this pattern of altitude training is helpful for
improving advanced swimmers’ competition
performance in a short time.
But it’s only experimented once and all different
situations could happen in training, so the
significance of this altitude training need to be
further researched and analysis for proving.
(1) The training characteristics of this pattern of
icSPORTS 2015 - International Congress on Sport Sciences Research and Technology Support
altitude training were: the training before plateau
was in relatively huge volume and intensity,
which consisted mainly of moderate -high
intensity aerobic training; In Duoba,
low-moderate and moderate intensity aerobic
training was priority; In KunMing, high intensity
aerobic and anaerobic training increased; After
the plateau, recovery and conditioning
adjustment were the main part—volume
decreased but pace and speed were hold.
(2) This pattern of altitude training brings no
significance influence for swimmers’ BHR; body
weight decreased significantly after training in
altitude for three weeks and recovered to the
plain level after one week left plateau. T and HB
were raised significantly in mountain.
(3) The performance of the subjects in the National
Game shows that this pattern of altitude training
is effective.
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Changes in Training Characteristics and Functions for Swimmers during a “DuoBa-KunMing” Altitude Training