I heard about someone having life threatening problems from using a high elevation training mask. This male had an unknown lung condition which predisposed him to severe pain that was not being properly diagnosed; because, the doctor does not know this device is being used so they do not know to look extra carefully at the tests and images. Please be sure to tell the medical staff every little detail of training and lifestyle to get the best care possible that just may save your life and get you pain free quicker.
They do not train what they are advertised to train. They limit your respiratory muscles. The issue with this is that you are NOT limited by your respiratory capacity during exercise. The limiting factor is going to be your circulatory system or muscles. It is felt in your breathing because you are breathing harder. Your respiratory system can increase 20-40x resting values during exercise. Your circulatory system (blood flow) increases by about 5x during exercise. Exercise can improve your efficiency of how your body reacts at certain exercise intensities. For example if you just started out, at 60% of your max VO2 your heart will be working at 4x the resting rate. For an advanced athlete, this same intensity may only cause the heart to be working 2.5x higher than the resting rate. Hope this makes sense!
Also, the theory of these masks is flawed. Any good athlete knows that they need to practice hard to perform better. These masks limit your ability to reach the levels of exercise you need to create an overload. If you are on sea-level, you may only be able to perform to 90% of your max while wearing these. Well that is 10% decrease in performance. For what? To train your lungs? Well like I said before, there is very little science to show that your lungs improve from exercise training. They are already extremely efficient.
The theory of these masks is “live low, train high”. While the correct theory for this adaptation is “live high, train low”. By living high, your body can improve it’s hemoglobin concentration and make aerobic system improvements. By training low, the athletes can train at MAXIMAL intensities. Their theory of training high doesn’t allow you to train at your max. If you only wear this mask for 1 hour, your body will not stimulate any increase in hemoglobin and RBC count.
If anyone wants to get any benefits from this at all, they would almost have to wear the mask all day during rest, and when they exercise, they should take it off. They would just walk around the office at work looking like Bane from Batman.
Thank you for the post. I have seen teenagers using the elevation mask in the gym, and most likely they have no clue about the potential harm. They use it because it is “cool” and recommended by certain gyms or fitness programs.
ACE just posted a study on this, so it seems appropriate to share the link:
There are some good analyses in this thread as well.