High Altitude Training Mask – Does It Really Work?


High Altitude Training Mask – Does It Work?

Hello All!

A new training fad is doing the rounds these days – working out with a high altitude training mask! You can see many masked dudes and dudettes working out in the gym. Initially you must have got scared but later you would have mustered up the courage to ask about the story behind the mask!

high altitude training mask

The high altitude training mask makes breathing harder but does this equate to an improvement in cardiorespiratory fitness? Is there any benefit of training with the mask? Does it simulate low oxygen at high altitudes? Let us find out! Keep reading!

The plain truth of the high-altitude training mask

These masks do not simulate high altitude. So, what is the use? Apart from this, some individuals wear them while doing anaerobic exercises such as resistance training, which don’t require oxygen. A completely different energy system is required for anaerobic exercises. Thereby, the usage of masks is rendered worthless!

high altitude training mask workout

Why high altitude training mask do not simulate altitude?

The reason behind this is that at higher altitudes, the atmospheric pressure gets reduced. The total units of oxygen per a given area (partial pressure of oxygen) also get reduced. Simply put, air at higher altitudes is thinner and that is why it becomes difficult to breathe. As a result, there is a reduction on oxygenation of the blood and it leads to less amount of oxygen being transported to working muscles.

When exposed to lower partial pressure at a height, the body increases the content of myoglobin/hemoglobin and the density of capillaries. This consequently increases the transportation of oxygen to muscles. These adaptations made by the body improve your performance. However, what you need to know is that this takes weeks or even months of living and working out at high altitudes. 40 mins of rowing with a mask on your face at the gym will do nothing!

This clears that restricting air intake by a mask is totally different from the reduced partial pressure of air at higher altitudes. People with knowledge of physiology will never support the claim that elevation masks increase hemoglobin.

Elevation masks do not change the incoming air’s partial pressure. What they do is just reduce the airflow to the lungs. It is like running with a pillow strapped to your face 😛

There are some people who wear a high altitude training mask while weight lifting as mentioned above. This practice cannot be called a wise one. There is no scientific evidence that says masks are beneficial for those who do weight lifting or resistance training. You will be actually able to perform better at workouts when you breathe freely.

Living at altitudes can help?

Living at high altitudes can make your body produce more red blood cells in order to increase its oxygen carrying capabilities. This is because the air up there is thinner. This increase in oxygen can give power to your aerobic workouts. However, your performance will be poor if you do training at high altitudes.

The bottom line

There is no evidence of any kind of physiological benefit by wearing a high altitude training mask while working out. You need not spend a fortune on them!

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