From professional football players to extreme athletes, elevation training masks have become a hot piece of fitness gear to have. Simulating training at high altitudes, these masks are thought to help make your body believe you are running the Rockies. The benefit of training at altitude is that your body will produce more red blood cells. Athletes who train at higher altitude can also expect their capillary density to increase as well. When these two factors combine, the amount of oxygen transported to the body's working muscles is increased. These adaptations could undoubtedly give you a performance advantage, but is an elevation training mask enough to simulate the extra strain on your body that altitude provides? Looking for something besides karate lessons in Raleigh this winter? Gracie has what you're looking for! Call today to learn more.
The short answer is no. However, before you feel like you wasted or your money or add your altitude mask to the pile of abandoned athletic equipment in your garage, there are some benefits to these masks. Hypoxic training can be beneficial to those who are training for specific conditions, like hiking expeditions or mountain bike racing. Restricting your airflow while preparing for these types of sports while wearing weighted gear can help you determine your pace and develop a strategy for how fast you can go with what weight to ensure your body is adequately oxygenating.
Intermittent hypoxic training (IHT) can also be useful for athletes who are looking to perform short bursts of activity in a low-oxygen air mixture. Recovery time between sprints of activity (3 - 5 minutes) when IHT is used can help stimulate acclimatization to high altitude. If you are planning to train to fight at high altitudes, wearing one of these masks may help improve your recovery time between rounds. Additional equipment like an altitude trainer box may be needed to simulate the at altitude effects fully.
The negatives for these masks are varied. There are several cons to consider from stressing your body's ability to breathe to making your workouts less effective. Restricting the amount of oxygen your body takes in during a workout isn't enough of a stimulus to help you achieve the desired results you would see from training at altitude. Living at altitude is really the only way to get the positive training adaptations that many athletes are looking for.
Elite athletes live at altitude and then attend fights and training exercises at lower elevations where they can take advantage of their higher oxygen-carrying capacity in an environment where more oxygen is present. Living at altitude allows athletes to develop those extra red blood cells. The constant exposure forces their body to adapt. Short bursts of exercising with a mask that restricts your airflow aren't going to produce the same result.
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Find out more by calling or coming by the gym and learning more about training with Gracie Raleigh!