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Review: The Altium i10
Posted by: Editor
Posted on: Tuesday 12th July 2016


Tags  Altium  |  Altium I10


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The Altium i10 Altitude Simulator test

You may have seen last week news that IRONMAN UK have announced a partnership with Altium i10 (www.altium-i10.com), the new altitude simulator device. If you are visiting Bolton this weekend, you'll be able to see them first hand and chat to the team from Altium i10 in person, to find out more about this new product aimed at the performance endurance market.

We were supplied an Altium i10 a couple of months back to review and test, and for this task we asked James Ruckley (@JRuckley), an Obstacle Course Racer with Team Muddy Kit (and an iron-distance triathlete too), to put it through its paces. These are his thoughts, experiences and findings.


The Altium i10 Altitude Simulator

In a world where simulation training masks are becoming a popular option for those less clued up with basic physiology, with little evidence proving they work, and no effect on oxygen percentages it was time for someone to innovate; cue the Altium i10.

Altitude training has long been studied and the benefits are wide known in the endurance community. Devices like ‘training masks’ have been sold as altitude training devices for the masses while elite athletes still prefer heading out to the mountain’s and training in oxygen chambers. The i10 is a personal hypoxia device, similar to Oxygen tents, and with hypoxia meaning deficiency in the amount of oxygen reaching the tissues, you can probably take a guess at what it aims to do.

Altium i10 reviewBased around a contemporary, rugged central canister with a series of holes on the underside it draws in air upon inspiration filtering it through a series of foam pieces before passing through the canister arriving at the mouth piece. The filter cartridges remove oxygen from the air providing the user with a varying concentration, similar to that at altitude. Expiring air back into the canister increases difficulty as you repeatedly inspire and expire oxygen depleted carbon dioxide rich air; think of this mechanism as working like breathing into a paper bag.

This is where the Altium i10 pulls away from training mask territory. While it does make your lungs work harder, reduces the volume of air inspired it also reduces the oxygen as previously mentioned. Welcome to the territory of oxygen tents and high altitude training facilities. Just cheaper and a little bit more convenient...

The i10’s software is a beautiful merger of science and technology and ensures the safety of the user. Drastically decreased O2 Saturation, the concentration of oxygenated erythrocytes in the blood, can lead to some serious side effects and as such the App has a built in warning that pauses the session and tells the user to stop should O2 Sats drop below 78. A brilliant safeguard for an intelligent piece of kit.

Using the i10 could not be simpler. Following the manual instructions will have you set up and ready to go in minutes. Next pair the Oximeter with your phone via Bluetooth, download the app, put on the nose clip and go. No really, it's that simple.

My first i10 experience taught me a lot. Having never struggled with respiration during exertion before, I felt confident I could handle an hour at a few thousand meters and sat down on the sofa, watching awful T.V.

I was wrong, very wrong. The i10 stripped me of my confidence within six minutes. The oximiter had my average O2 Sat’s down at 81, pulse had raised to 80 (from 43), I was sweating, my lungs were burning and I was clinging on for the break. Six minutes in I was impressed. For the first time I felt that there was something special here, this wasn’t a toy, or a gimmick but a serious training tool and as such I headed out using my Fenix to workout a rough VO2 max.

Coming back off a 10k run my Garmin gave me the stats, rest for 12 hours, VO2 max of 61. With some baselines established the month of testing was to begin.

One hour a day, every day. That’s all the training I was going to do. While normally the i10 would be used in conjunction with an athletes normal training regime, as a Uni student exam season was looming over and I needed to save every second for revision.

What’s important to note is that all sessions on the i10 are the same yet different, they constantly evolve while never altering from their preset format. You are essentially sitting down breathing through a mouth piece into a large canister (…I suggest a good film to keep you occupied). Throughout every session embracing the discomfort, I pushed my body to its limits, my lungs grew stronger, mind tougher and breathing more relaxed. A constant side effect for myself was a metal haze, a headrush if you will and while not painfu,l it was likely a sign I’d maybe been pushing myself a little too hard.

The i10 effectively controls levels of O2 in the body through its integration of the App and Oximeter in controlling Hypoxic bursts. These bursts have been the focus of numerous research papers over the years and have shown to improve mitochondrial efficiency, myoglobin concentrations and lactate buffering. In short the energy powerhouses of the body are better able to produce more energy, store more, and remove waste products more efficiently. I hear alarm bells going, but no, honestly research has shown this, science backs it, and W.A.D.A allow this!

Altium i10 review

With six minutes of intense breathing exercise and four minutes of rest repeated six times you accumulate 36 minutes of hard work accompanied by 24 minutes of rest. This is to be completed every day for the first month before taking a 15 day rest. From here the device need only be used once every five days to top up and maintain the benefits.

Heading into day one I decided to start early before I had to go into Uni and later work. Completing an hour on the i10 early in the morning was brutal and I really struggled, enjoying my four minute rest breaks. I’ve learnt the first set really is the hardest. Assuming you ignore the 5th and 6th. Oh and the 2nd, 3rd and 4th aren’t fun either.

With the first week being a suffer fest I wasn’t looking forward too week two, but I had at least started to feel more energetic, and by the middle of the second week I’d accepted the dull burning of my respiratory tract during sets. A short 25 min run later and my Fenix was telling me my VO2 had escalated to 63. This was swiftly written off – a natural variation on the previous weeks effort, or so I thought.

Week three was unremarkable but again my VO2 Max increased to 65 while I again learnt to embrace the discomfort. Week four however was a brutal step up and just finishing it was something I was aiming for. A final run, 10k, and my VO2 Max had increased further to 69.

Throughout the 28 days I’d performed little training and had seen an increase of eight on my VO2 Max, something that would take months-years of traditional training. Completely W.A.D.A legal this is a training aid being utilized by elite athletes from around the world and undoubtedly sub elite athletes too soon. While physiological changes are hard to identify and measure, the improvements in breathing patterns are clear.

While not cheap, the Altium i10 is backed by science and a worthy investment at £499 for a starter kit for those serious about their performance. Replacement canisters cost £50 for five and will last a considerable amount of time throughout the maintenance stages. No small investment but one based on science, backed by research and built to last from solid materials, with a hard case and a beautiful design.

Altium i10 review


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