What is the Anticipated Reduction in Aerobic Exercise Performance under Various Combinations of Acute Altitude Exposure & Load Carriage Conditions?

Research Paper Title

Aerobic Exercise Performance During Load Carriage and Acute Altitude Exposure.


This study quantified the impact of combined load carriage and acute altitude exposure on 5-km running time-trial (TT) performance and self-selected pacing strategy.

Furthermore, this study developed a velocity prediction tool (nomogram) for similar aerobic exercise tasks performed under various combinations of altitude and load stress.


Nine volunteers (6M/3F, age: 24 ± 7 years, height: 171 ± 6 cm, body mass: 72 ± 7 kg, and V[Combining Dot Above]O2peak: 50.5 ± 5.2 ml·min·kg) completed a randomised, repeated-measures design protocol. Volunteers performed 3 familiarisation (FAM) trials at sea level (SL; 250 m) with no-load carriage.

Experimental testing included 3 self-paced, blinded 5-km running TT on a treadmill while carrying a 30% body mass external load at SL, moderate altitude (MA; 2000 m), and high altitude (HA; 3000 m).


At SL, load carriage resulted in a 36% decrement in 5-km exercise performance in comparison with FAM trials (43 ± 7 vs. 32 ± 3 minutes; p < 0.001).

Time required to complete the 5-km distance while carrying an external load was increased by 11% when performed at HA vs. SL (48 ± 7 vs. 43 ± 7 minutes; p = 0.001).

TT pace was not different among experimental conditions (load carriage at SL, MA, and HA) until after 1 km of the running distance had been completed.

Heart rate was not different among experimental conditions throughout the entire TT (170 ± 17 b·min).


These data quantify the anticipated reduction in aerobic exercise performance under various combinations of acute altitude exposure and load carriage conditions.

The self-paced running TT approach used presently allowed for development of an altitude-load nomogram for use in recreational, occupational, or military settings.


Coffman, K.E., Luippold, A.J., Salgado, R.M., Heavens, K.R., Caruso, E.M., Fulco, C.S. & Kenefick, R.W. (2020) Aerobic Exercise Performance During Load Carriage and Acute Altitude Exposure. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 34(4), pp.946-951. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000003557.


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