Physiology

 

The USOC employs a dedicated team of sport physiologists who help athletes improve their training methods by measuring cardio-respiratory, metabolic, musculoskeletal and environmental factors that contribute to athletic performance. Using high-caliber technology, biomechanics use motion-capture systems, force, torque and muscle activity sensors and timing devices to mathematically model and study sport movement patterns. To understand the effects of training, USOC physiologists observe athletes’ movements under lab conditions and use five components to improve training regiments:

  • Identifying athlete performance strengths and weaknesses
  • Analyze performance
  • Ensuring effective training
  • Provide coaching resources
  • Develop a network of providers

Athlete Performance Zone

The Athlete Performance Zone at the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center allows USOC physiologists to work with Team USA athletes and coaches by offering unique training opportunities such as the High-Altitude Training Center, which allows athletes to train or sleep at altitudes ranging from sea level to 24,000 feet. The HATC also has the capability of altering the ambient air temperature (-5 to 100+ ˚F) and relative humidity (5-100 percent). With the HATC, Team USA athletes are able to use cutting-edge altitude training techniques – including “live high, train low” and intermittent hypoxic training – while also pre-acclimatizing to hot/humid environments from anywhere around the globe. The HATC at the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center is one of the only training facilities in the world that features all of these environmental capabilities for altitude training, and heat and humidity acclimatization. 

The Athlete Performance Zone also features the Alter-G treadmill, an “anti-gravity” treadmill that allows athletes to run at 20-100 percent of their total body weight. For example, an athlete coming off a knee injury or surgery might do a conditioning run at 40 percent of their total body weight, thereby allowing them to run relatively pain-free and regain their fitness level more rapidly versus using a standard treadmill.  Another example of Alter-G use might be a marathon runner or triathlete, who completes long-distance running workouts at 90 percent of their total body weight so to help reduce the risk of stress fracture while simultaneously increasing their mileage and fitness level.