Do Elevation Masks Improve Your Cardio?
I’m sure in some way or form you’ve seen the elevation mask or otherwise known as the Bane mask. You’ll see athletes use them while preparing in the offseason, you’ll see fighters use them preparing for a big fight, you’ll even hear the average gym bro sometimes wearing it during a cardio session and sounding a bit like Darth Vader. It seems like whoever wears one is training HARD but does it actually improve your endurance and cardio in the long run?
What Are Altitude Training and Elevation Masks?
An elevation mask is a piece of equipment you buy to alter yourself to become Bane. Okay… not really, but its purpose is to simulate altitude training. When training at a higher altitude, the amount starts to decrease, and essentially, there isn’t as much air to breathe. When you’re in a high altitude state (8000 ft+) your body has to start compensating for the lack of oxygen that’s being produced. One way your body does this is by creating more red blood cells. More red blood cells in the body mean that your body has an easier time delivering oxygen throughout your body. The point of the elevation mask is to simulate altitude training because unfortunately, we all can’t just train in the Himalayas. T elevation mask doesn’t actually simulate the high altitude pressure, it just reduces the amount of air you’re intaking. Most elevation masks have “resistance valves” which valves allow you to select the intensity/altitude.
Effects Of The Elevation Mask
When using an elevation mask, the person is hoping to achieve better endurance, and achieve a higher V02 max. A VO2 max is the maximum amount of oxygen that a person can use when training/exercising. With the more oxygen you’re able to intake, the more energy you’ll have for greater endurance when you’re working out. The elevation mask may not exactly simulate a high altitude, but it does help improve your VO2 max and other parts of your cardiovascular strength. According to a study published in 2016, people who used an elevation mask showed improvements in VO2, ventilatory threshold, power output, and respiratory compensation threshold. It’s important to note that with an elevation mask, you will see improvements in these areas but it’s not a direct replication of altitude training, and if done improperly you may not see results at all.
How to Train with an Elevation Mask
One of the main benefits of actual high altitude training is that you’re living in that environment for a long period of time. When using an elevation mask, you’re only getting about an hour of that same exposure. To see real benefits from an elevation mask, you would need to train with it frequently since your training session will only be about one-two hours max. I would recommend training with the elevation mask for at least a total of 3 - 4 hours a week to see benefits.
If you happen to purchase the training mask 2.0, you’ll notice your package comes with resistance caps. The resistance caps indicate the intensity. It’s suggested that if you train with the resistance mask frequently you should increase intensity (or change the resistance caps) about every 4-6 weeks to improve performance and avoid a plateau.
Training masks can be a great tool to improve your performance and cardiovascular strength. The key is frequent training with it though. It may seem like a scam of sorts because it doesn’t actually simulate high altitude training, but using the mask can still provide benefits that would be harder to achieve without the training mask. You can purchase one at trainingmask.com or on amazon. Soon you’ll be doing crazy things like this :
Note: The above link is an affiliate link.
Want to know if cardio is detrimental to your gains? Check out this article
Porcari JP, Probst L, Forrester K, et al. Effect of Wearing the Elevation Training Mask on Aerobic Capacity, Lung Function, and Hematological Variables. Journal of Sports Science & Medicine. 2016;15(2):379-386.
Zisko N, Stensvold D, Hordnes-Slagsvold K, et al. Effect of Change in VO2max on Daily Total Energy Expenditure in a Cohort of Norwegian Men: A Randomized Pilot Study. The Open Cardiovascular Medicine Journal. 2015;9:50-57. doi:10.2174/1874192401509010050.