Dr Stephen Hui Research Centre for Physical Recreation and Wellness (CPRW)  and the Hong Kong Handball Association, China (HKHA) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Joint Hypoxic Training Programme for Hong Kong Handball Team players to meet the challenge of the 2018 Asian Games.

 

Under the MOU, CPRW considerately opens its hypoxic chamber to the Hong Kong Handball Team players for hypoxic training from March to August 2018. The oxygen concentration of CPRW's hypoxic chamber can be adjusted within the range from 21% (sea-level) to 11% (hypoxia). The specific training aims at improving the physical condition of the players, mainly their repeated-sprint ability, in the preparatory phase of the Jakarta Asian Games. 

The hypoxic training programme is jointly developed by Dr Tomas Tong, Associate Director of CPRW and the Coaching Staff of Hong Kong Handball Team. Dr Tong remarked that the repeated-sprint ability of team-sport players, such as handball, soccer and rugby, is essential in determining the amount of their effective running during a game which is apparently associated with the outcome in crucial game situations. Sprint interval training has always been thought to be effective in improving the player's ability to repeat sprints. Recent research evidence has revealed that sprint interval training in hypoxia would further increase the metabolic stress of the working muscles, especially those white muscle fibres which are responsible for high-speed activities, and hence induce physiological adaptations in the muscles in a greater extent, facilitating the fatigue recovery between sprints. 

Dr Tong added that although there is a multiplier effect, the extreme exhaustive sensation induced by the repeated sprints in hypoxia is not easy to tolerate. He hopes the joint training programme could help Hong Kong Handball Team achieve the desired results in the Asian Games, and also this partnership can be extended to different sports teams to give a hand to more Hong Kong athletes. 

Two members of the Hong Kong Handball Team, Tse Wing-fai and Yuen Hei-yin, who are participating in the hypoxic training, said, “We would like to thank CPRW for free use of the hypoxic chamber and their consultancy services on hypoxic training. The training is very tough, but we can feel our repeated-sprint ability has improved significantly, and this has boosted our performance in competitions.” 

The chamber was donated by Dr Stephen Hui's family to CPRW in 2013 for scientific research and community service purposes. In past years, the utilisation of the chamber mainly fell within the scope of enhancing fitness and cognitive function of older adults. Recently, the scope has been extended to athletic training, in the hope that it can help local sports teams enhance their competitive edge in the sports arena.

The MOU was signed by Professor Chow Bik-chu, Director of CPRW and Mr Ho Chung-ho, Chairman of Board of Directors of HKHA.