Altitude masks: everything you need to know

The market has been in charge of making our lives easier in many ways. Today we find sports equipment, such as altitude masks, that promise to improve performance. However, many doubt its true impact and there is little scientific evidence on its benefits.

Also known as training masks or training masks They are used to simulate altitude training. According to the promise of sale, are used in order to increase the performance of athletes by recreating the effects of altitude. In addition, it is supposed to increase lung capacity and oxygen supply to capillaries.

Altitude training consists of performing continuous exercise for 2 or 3 weeks with low oxygen concentration in the air. So that? The idea is to achieve greater performance in professional runners and endurance athletes. This would achieve an increase in red blood cells and hematocrit (ratio of red blood cells to total blood volume).

What are altitude masks?

So far we have said what altitude masks are for, but not what they are. Well then, These are masks similar to face masks. In fact, they cover both of these parts.

They are made of neoprene, a material that adjusts easily, absorbs sweat and can be washed well.

They usually have velcro at the ends to adhere better, preventing oxygen from entering through different parts of the valves that have been designed for it. These sections they also keep out dust, water or sand, depending on the terrain.

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What benefits have been attributed to altitude masks?

As we mentioned, there is very little literature that proves the benefits of the use of hypoxia masks. However, we will talk about those that have been attributed to these implements.

These training implements are intended to increase the concentration of red blood cells in the blood.

Preparation for competitions

Without a doubt, athletes must consider very well the conditions of the place where they will have to compete. In fact, studies have reviewed the physical and psychological impact of altitude training on elite athletes.

To hypoxic masks They are credited with the benefit of preparing the athlete to face competitions in environments with low oxygen concentration.

Learn to breathe

Of course we all know how to breathe, as it is a vital function, but in the case of athletes, breathing goes further. When it comes to practicing a sport, it is necessary to learn to do it efficiently to avoid fatigue.

Because the mask simulates a low oxygen environment, you learn to optimize and control it.

Increase performance

Studies on training in hypoxia have indicated that this is an effective method to increase aerobic performance in athletes. In fact, lactate levels have been shown to improve, increasing the power generated and the perceived effort.

Because the altitude mask simulates hypoxic training, it is credited with this benefit. As well as the increase in red blood cells, by producing erythropoietin (EPO), providing greater effort capacity to the muscles.

Strengthens the respiratory system

These masks have been credited with the benefit of increase lung capacity by maximizing oxygen uptake. With less gas available, it is necessary to take deeper breaths, causing the lungs to expand to their full capacity.

These types of deep breaths also strengthen the diaphragm and other muscles involved in the breathing process. On the other hand, the pulmonary alveoli acquire greater elasticity and, therefore, would improve their capacity to inspire oxygen.

Muscle hypertrophy

Research has indicated that hypoxic training, along with strength training, can have a muscle hypertrophy effect. This is because a series of morphological adaptations occur in the musculoskeletal tissue.

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Do altitude masks really work?

Before you start using altitude masks it is necessary that you go to a specialist to avoid possible complications. Now, do training masks work or not? The answer is yes and no.

Experts have debated the subject and have come to the conclusion, based on the studies we have cited, that training with this mask for 4 to 6 weeks can improve lung musculature. However, its use is not a truly efficient hypoxia training simulation method.

The benefits of these instruments are unclear. They could improve the muscles of the respiratory function with 1 month of use.

What risks are there in its use?

One of the biggest risks is the lack of knowledge about regulating the amount of oxygen we need to stay healthy. It is required to know the operation of the valves and regulate them very well, according to the capabilities of the athlete.

If symptoms occur, such as sudden numbness of the organs and a feeling of extreme fatigue, it is necessary to seek medical attention, as a state of hypoxia may occur.

On the other hand, there are people who should not wear this mask. Among them we find those who suffer from panic attacks and pregnant women. Also those who have undergone an organ transplant, hypothyroid or hypertensive.

Do you have more questions about altitude masks?

If despite the information we have given you about altitude masks you still have doubts, you can check with your training guide. It is not recommended to make the decision to train with them without professional follow-up.