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Fitness Theory and Practice. CrossFit's rationale & foundations. Who is fit? What is fitness?

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Old 06-01-2007, 07:28 AM   #1
Matt DeMinico
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I don't remember where, but I heard a while back that there's a belief that you body can actually store oxygen in limited quantities, and that is the reason that some people can hold their breath for 3, 4, 5, etc. minutes at a time.

Has anyone else heard this? If that belief ends up being true, and holding your breath is the way to "train" that, then I presume your performance would benefit from increased "oxygen storage", wouldn't it? It would supply extra oxygen to give you a few more seconds of performance in sprint type races (especially "long" sprint types like the 400m, and maybe even going into the 800m?)

It would be of great benefit if your body doesn't tap into it until you start to accumulate an oxygen debt, and then uses it to supplement the oxygen that your body isn't taking in enough of.

For me personally, it would be great for speed skating because we sit in a position that restricts blood flow to the muscles we're using to skate with, and any stored oxygen (in those muscles or otherwise) would help buffer the buildup of lactate and offset muscle fatigue.
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Old 06-01-2007, 09:36 AM   #2
Roark Marsh
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As I understand it, the ability to hold your breath for 3-5 minutes is your body's capacity to take oxygen from your extremities, and focus it on the parts of you required to live: brain, major organs.

So just being able to hold your breath doesn't seem like it should majorly aid in sport training, because it usually detracts from performance. That said, there are some apnea drills that focus on holding your breath, for a few minutes, while climbing stairs, diving, etc that could be helpful.

http://www.apneamania.com/code/training_main.asp

w/f safe
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Old 06-01-2007, 09:06 PM   #3
Matt DeMinico
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So it's not possible to train your body to hold extra reserves of oxygen? Or it's just not a major source of one's ability to hold oxygen?

I understand that myoglobin is what stores oxygen in our muscles, and it's rather dependent on iron. So people of Italian heritage (whom I hear typically have high levels of iron in their body) would possibly have greater myoglobin, and therefore have higher oxygen storage capacity?
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Old 06-01-2007, 09:18 PM   #4
Ian Carver
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I don't necessairly know that you can learn to "store" oxygen through holding your breath over extended periods of time. However, I used to do breath holding exercises when I was road racing years ago. These exercises taught the body how to use the oxygen in a more efficient manner by creating a system through which the body has to prioritize and then adapt to the amount of oxygen you have taken in, while still providing energy and output. I learned this from a Belgian team I raced for and it seemed to help when I was going into real anaerobic situations. Before anyone asks, we did them off the bike, lying down during massage/relaxation sessions, not during all out training rides. As for the iron, I was under the notion it aided in oxygen delivery and carrying capacity in the CV system, not so much in storage. I could be wrong, so maybe someone else out there knows a bit more. Take care and stay fit!
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Old 06-02-2007, 09:27 PM   #5
Paul Theodorescu
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My understanding is that pulmonary function isn't the limitation to exercise; it's muscular or cardiovascular.
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Old 06-03-2007, 07:07 PM   #6
Matt DeMinico
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I've heard that the easier your inspitory muscles can breathe in, it can slightly increase performance. I saw a product that advertised (I believe with proof to back it up) that some rowing team (crew I believe) started using their product and got something like a 5% increase in performance after a certain amount of time.

It makes some sense, I mean, we do use muscles to breathe, why not train them.
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Old 06-03-2007, 09:15 PM   #7
Steven Low
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You can get more erythrocytes by training at high altitude... other than that there's not much you can do on increasing the amounts of oxygen. Cardiorespiratory fitness and muscular endurance just increases efficiency of your body systems.
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Old 06-04-2007, 04:25 AM   #8
Peter Terry Haas
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If by "storage" and "reserves" you mean something similar to fat stores (an internal, on-demand source of oxygen) then definitely not. Take a deep breath and hold it, all the oxygen you now have access to is in your lungs and bloodstream.

Don't think of myoglobin as oxgyen storage, think of it as what your cells use to pull oxygen off of the hemoglobin that is floating by in your blood stream. W/o that myoglobin, the cell would not be able to uptake adequate amounts of oxygen from the bloodstream. Once myoglobin binds that O2, it almost immediately gets kicked off and goes to your mitochondria for respiration.

That being said you do have options. Like Steven said, you can train at altitude or transfuse blood (dope) to increase the number of red blood cells in your blood. I think myoglobin levels increase as an adaptation to training. You basically increase the efficiency of the systems the body has in place to process and deliver oxygen.

We can't "store" oxygen, that's why you get brain damage after about 5 minutes of no oxgyen. Your cells run out of O2, freak out, and start to die. It would be nice though :-)
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Old 06-04-2007, 09:21 AM   #9
Steven Low
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Well, cancer cells can adapt themselves under hypoxic conditions by initiating mass glycosis (mainly through mutations) to supply themselves with energy before they induce angiogenesis. But that's probably not a viable alternative. Just wanted to point that out though. :-)
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Old 06-05-2007, 05:31 PM   #10
Joey Powell
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To clarify, you don't normally feel the urge to breathe due to lack of O2. It is your temperment to stand the build up of CO2 or lack thereof that creates the urge to breathe.
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