It has been proposed that athletes with high initial values of hemoglobin mass (Hbmass) will have a lower Hbmass increase in response to 'live high-train low' (LHTL) altitude training. To verify this assumption, the relationship between initial absolute and relative Hbmass values and their respective Hbmass increase following LHTL in male endurance and team-sport athletes was investigated. Overall, 58 male athletes (35 well-trained endurance athletes and 23 elite male field hockey players) undertook an LHTL training camp with similar hypoxic doses (200–230 h). Hbmass was measured in duplicate pre- and post-LHTL with the carbon monoxide rebreathing method. While there was no relationship (r = 0.02, P = 0.91) between initial absolute Hbmass (g) and percentage increase in absolute Hbmass, a moderate relationship (r = −0.31, P = 0.02) between initial relative Hbmass (g·kg−1) and percentage increase in relative Hbmass was detected. Mean absolute and relative Hbmass increased to a similar extent (P ≥ 0.81) in endurance (from 916 ± 88 to 951 ± 96 g, +3.8%, P < 0.001 and from 13.1 ± 1.2 to 13.6 ± 1.1 g·kg−1, +4.1%, P < 0.001) and team-sport (from 920 ± 120 to 957 ± 127 g, +4.0%, P < 0.001 and from 11.9 ± 0.9 to 12.3 ± 0.9 g·kg−1, +4.0%, P < 0.001) athletes following LHTL. The direct comparison study using individual data of male endurance and team-sport athletes and strict methodological control (duplicate Hbmass-measures, matched-hypoxic dose) indicated that even athletes with higher initial Hbmass can reasonably expect Hbmass gain post-LHTL.
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