Altitude Training equipment supplied by Sporting Edge UK
Defender Troy Archibald-Henville was ruled out of United’s last two fixtures with a minor hamstring problem but his road back to recovery has been helped by the loan of a machine designed to bring Altitude Training right into the gymnasium.
Former-Blues youth player Kevin Gillespie, who now works for Sporting Edge UK, first introduced Carlisle United to the potential of Altitude Training in 2011 when striker Paddy Madden picked up a nasty foot injury during a pre-season friendly at Workington.
And the Cumbrians have been able to put the machine to good use again as Dave Atkinson, Troy Archibald-Henville and Charlie Wyke go through specific rehabilitation programmes.
Strength and conditioning coach Lee Fearn said: “We’ve been really fortunate to get the loan of this piece of equipment from Sporting Edge UK. It’s a piece of equipment which simulates training at high altitude, and people will have heard more about this with things like boxers and athletes who go away on training camps to gain this type of fitness training.
“The benefit to us is when we have players who are load compromised. Their injury dictates they can’t do as much ground running as they would want but we can put them on this machine on an exercise bike and we can get a higher training load from them.
“That means that when they get to their end-stage rehab, just before going back to full training, they should be at a higher level of fitness. Overall it gives us a better starting level to work from with them.”
“In broad terms, the machine limits the amount of oxygen the player is able to breathe,” he explained. “At sea level, which is effectively where we are now, we’re at about 21% of oxygen. Obviously it’s really important that oxygen is delivered to the muscles efficiently during exercise because it’s used as a fuel during any period of strenuous activity. By limiting the oxygen we can increase the work rate required from the body.
“Using this machine we can replicate altitudes of up to 9,000 metres, but we set the machine at about 2,200 metres. That limits the oxygen to approximately 15% and, because of that, it means the individual has to work that much harder. Theoretically, and even though they have an injury, it means we can maintain the fitness levels they’d built up during pre-season and through the games they’d played.”
On the benefits of Altitude Training, he said: “There is plenty of research out there that shows the use of this machine is warranted. We have to say a huge thank you to Sporting Edge UK because it’s a very expensive piece of kit.
“We had a chamber when I worked down at West Brom and it definitely helped to maintain and improve fitness levels across the board. We even did extra work with the fit players to help to increase their fitness and endurance levels as well. For the injured lads it does mean they can potentially come back quicker, simply because their overall fitness levels have been maintained.
“We tend to take it steady with our lads because they’re new to it, and it’s a different kind of training stimulus. We certainly don’t want to see anyone break down while they’re on the machine.
“That means we put them on it every other day. What we do try to get from our rehab players is continuous hard work. It isn’t a break for them in any way because the aim is to keep them as close to full fitness as possible.”
“Fortunately we’ve had a good start to the season in terms of injuries,” he concluded. “We’ve had nine games and 30 days of the season so it’s pleasing to see such a small amount of muscle injuries. We can’t avoid the contact stuff, that’s part and parcel of the game, so we just have to keep this trend going now.”
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