2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup Preview – Mexico: Live High Train Low

Because this is a Women’s World Cup year, I have decided to countdown to the tournament by providing a short soccer/fitness related preview of each of the 24 participating nations. In this instalment, I will look at Mexico, who are making their third appearance at the Women’s World Cup (in both of their previous tournaments they failed to advance past the group stages) . Mexico have been drawn in Group F, along with Colombia, France, and England. They will play their first match against Colombia on Tuesday, June 9th, 2015.

Physiologically, Mexican players have always had an advantage over their opponents, simply by virtue of the fact that so many of them grew up in Mexico City. which is situated approximately 1500 metres above sea level.  At that altitude, the partial pressure of oxygen is significantly lower than it is at sea level, and as a result there is significantly less oxygen available to the heart, lungs, and skeletal muscles to perform exercise.  Soccer players and other athletes who grow up and live at altitude will eventually acclimatize to these conditions, and their heart, lungs and skeletal muscles will develop the ability to perform with less oxygen available, and thus become very efficient and oxygen transport and utilization.  If these same athletes/soccer players then train and/or compete in matches and tournaments played at sea level (as is the case with the Women’s World Cup in Canada), they will have a significant physiological advantage over their opponents, whose oxygen transport and utilization will not be as efficient.  Termed “live high / train low”, this strategy can be very useful for athletes with efficient cardiorespiratory systems, because when they do train or compete at sea level they will be able to push themselves harder without experiencing as much fatigue.

Sine many of the Mexican Women’s National Team players are from Mexico City, they will have grown up experiencing the “live high, train low” phenomenon.  Can this strategy help them to get past the group stage for the first time in their history?  We will have to wait and see what happens in 1 month’s time.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this topic.  Drop me a line here to get the conversation started.

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