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Near the end of your article you commented on "if you live and train at about 5,000 feet you could theoretically expect a 5% increase in FTP and performance if you went down to sea level to race" I have always wondered two things:
1. How long would the effect last?
2. Would tapering at 5000+ have a real impact if you train at 0 tapered at 5k and raced at 0?

Joe Friel

Don--thanks for your comment. The effect might last as long as 30 days but would probably decrease in the last several days. 'Tapering' essentially means resting (it's actually a bit more complex than just that). If you rested, regardless of the altitude, you would experience an increase in form.

Racer Ex

Joel, having lived and trained at altitude for quite a few years, the chart mirrors almost exactly the percentages that I use to adjust my FTP in WKO.

One thing that often gets lost in the altitude conversation is the impact on muscular endurance and power; while many people gain an aerobic advantage from altitude,there's the downside of training at lower power levels. Preparation strategy needs to take this into account.

Joe Friel

Racer Ex--Yes, you're exactly right. While aerobic power is gained at altitude, muscular power is lost. One simply can't train at as high an intensity (as measured by power, pace or speed--not HR) for endurance events. You'll simply be going slower/less powerfully at any given HR for extended periods of time.

Andrew Coggan

To give credit where credit is due: Charles Howe is the person who produced that table, which first first appeared in the FAQ for the wattage list way back when it was hosted on topica.com.

Joe Friel

Thanks, Andy. I had it in my archives but didn't recall where it came from.

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