RESEARCH: Could Elevation Training Masks Elevate Your Training?
ACE-sponsored research explores what effect elevation training masks have on athletic performance.
Athletes and researchers have long been fascinated with harnessing the power of training at high altitudes. The increased physiological challenge of exercising in such environments yields benefits in terms of improvements in maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) and endurance performance. Because most athletes simply don’t have the opportunity to train at altitude, developing a training tool that provides an effective simulation could be invaluable.
To that end, Training Mask LLC created the Elevation Training Mask 2.0, which attempts to simulate a range of elevations by making breathing more difficult via different-sized openings and adjustable flux valves.
In order to evaluate the mask’s effectiveness at increasing endurance and VO2max and improving lung function, ACE enlisted the help of John Porcari, PhD, and his team of researchers in the department of exercise sport science at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse.
For this study, 24 moderately trained volunteers were divided into a “mask group” and a “control group,” which then completed identical training programs over 6 weeks. For the mask group, the masks were set to simulate increasingly high altitudes over the course of the study, beginning at 3,000 feet and reaching a peak of 12,000 feet during weeks 5 and 6. All 24 participants completed the same battery of tests before and after training, enabling the researchers to measure changes in everything from blood variables and perceived exertion to lung function and power output.
The mask did improve two important factors for athletic performance—overall respiratory compensation threshold and power output at respiratory compensation threshold, which marked the amount of time and level of exercise intensity, respectively, that each participant could handle without getting winded. In other words, results showed that the group using the mask could train at a higher intensity and for longer than the control group.
That said, there were no significant changes in lung function or hemoglobin or hematocrit levels for either group as a result of training. These varied results demonstrate the difficulty of attempting to mimic the extremely complex physiology involved while exercising at high altitudes.
The Bottom Line
Stated simply, the results of this study do not back the manufacturer’s claims that wearing the Elevation Training Mask 2.0 can increase endurance VO2max and improve lung function. The name of the device and the settings it provides would make you believe that the mask simulates different levels of altitude training. However, decreases in saturation of oxygen in the blood were small while wearing the mask—just 2%, which is far below the desaturation levels seen when a person actually climbs to higher elevations. There is no doubt, however, that wearing the mask makes it more difficult to breathe, making it more like an inspiratory muscle training device.
Remember, though, that members of the mask group were able to train longer and harder than control group participants. This result has clear and important performance implications.
According to Dr. Porcari, “The respiratory compensation threshold is a primary limiting factor of endurance capacity, so making improvements there is potentially very exciting.”
SPOTLIGHT A PRO:
Ace Certified Personal Trainer
Q&A with Samantha
What inspired you to start a career in fitness?
Growing up, I was never the skinny girl. I couldn’t walk into a clothing store without worrying about whether they carried size X-Large. When I got to college, I knew I needed to start making some changes in my life. I established small goals for myself, like drinking more water and taking the stairs, and continued to make incremental changes to get myself to a healthier place. Committing to a healthy lifestyle, despite the challenges, allowed me to lose more than 30 pounds and build lean muscle tissue. I was eventually able to run a half marathon! My love for health and fitness grew stronger along the way, and after undergoing my own transformation, I knew it was time to take this passion to the next level.
What do you love most about your job?
I love that every client I work with is unique. I work with all age groups, and each one of my clients is at a different stage in his or her fitness journey, so every training session is a fresh, new experience. I love the feeling of watching my clients set goals and crush them one day at a time.
What is your specialty?
I’m currently pursuing an ACE Specialty Certification in Fitness Nutrition. When I embarked on my own journey of health, I quickly realized that things would not be easy. I was faced with an overwhelming amount of contradicting research, diet myths, crazy detoxes and even crazier
diets. These early struggles motivated me to research and learn everything I could about proper training and nutrition.
What role does social media play in fitness?
Social media has become an outlet for individuals and organizations to share a wealth of health and fitness knowledge. I began my own Instagram fitness account (@livelaughlean) simply as a way to inspire others and hold myself accountable, and before I knew it, I had achieved all of my goals and then some. Instagram has had a significant impact on my fitness journey by allowing me to interact with many individuals who share my passion for fitness.
Are there any new workouts you can’t wait to try?
Yes! Being the fitness junkie that I am, I always have a list of new workouts I would like to try. I love to keep things interesting, so I rarely do the same workout twice. Up next—exploring the art of calisthenics.
In your opinion, what’s the biggest success factor in meeting fitness goals?
Stick with the basics. There are no magic pills or quick fixes when it comes to health and fitness. It really comes down to proper nutrition and training. I tell all of my clients to start small, set goals and stay consistent. The results will come!
POLICY: Inclusive Fitness: Get Everyone Moving
The American Council on Exercise, along with several other key organizations representing the fitness sector in the U.S., recently signed on to the Marseille Declaration. This marked the global launch of the Marseille Declaration as well as the launch of the Universal Fitness Innovation & Transformation (UFIT) USA Taskforce.
The Marseille Declaration represents a global social-change movement and is supported by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and promoted by the UNESCO Chair and its signatories. It is meant to bring together fitness industry leaders (and all those serving, operating and shaping the sector) to increase opportunities to engage with people with disabilities. It is a means to encourage these leaders to advocate, innovate and transform practices to enable the full and effective participation of people with disabilities in the fitness sector.
Originally introduced in Marseille, France, in 2015, UFIT is a social-change movement aiming to increase fitness opportunities for people with disabilities by building capacity in health and fitness clubs and making access to high-quality fitness experiences the norm for all individuals. The UFIT project calls on the fitness industry to be more inclusive of people with disabilities in its operations and asks people with disabilities to explore all that fitness clubs have to offer. ACE is proud to play a part in facilitating this movement in the U.S.
- to mainstream diversity and “inclusivize” communities
- to upskill fitness professionals to deliver inclusive fitness programs
- to support the implementation of inclusive practices
- to promote active lifestyles through inclusive fitness
- to support the professionalization of inclusive fitness professionals
- to support the training and implementation of UFIT across the U.S.
- to increase the number of inclusive health clubs and participation of people with all types of abilities
For more information on UFIT, visit www.justdoufit.com.
YOUR CAREER: 8 Ways to Use Social Media to Boost Your Career
By Kari Luu
ACE Social Media & Content Strategist
In the past 5 years, social media has become a great ally to health and fitness experts everywhere. Social media has a unique way of reaching and motivating audiences full of people seeking to improve their health and well-being. Whether you’re new to the social media game or have a million followers, these eight tips can help you grow your social media channels and inspire even more people to get moving.
1. Stick to a Theme
. . . and be unique. We can’t be great at everything, and if you try to
juggle too many themes, people will disengage from the brand. If
you’re great at making vegetarian dishes, stick with that. This allows
you to find your niche community and become the primary authority
in that field.
2. Post High-Quality Content
Make sure you use original, high-quality content (images and text)
that you feel proud to share. Do not borrow other people’s content
without citing your source or asking for permission.
3. Be Authentic
Just as your mother always told you: Be yourself. It’s easy to get lost in
what others are doing. People value a personal experience and want to
4. Post Consistently
Maintain a consistent posting frequency. Don’t disappear for 2 weeks
and then suddenly post three times in a day. This can quickly lead to
unfollows. Establish a regular schedule for posting, and then stick to it.
5. Utilize Hashtags
Using hashtags can get you found by new potential followers.
Select relevant hashtags when posting content on Instagram,
Twitter and Facebook.
6. Be Active in the Community
Engaging with the community is key to getting your brand out there.
Respond to users’ posts, follow others, and comment on their content.
It demonstrates that you’re engaged and makes it likely that others will
start engaging with you as well.
7. Measure Your Success
Track your social media analytics to learn about your audience,
what posts your followers like and much more. Facebook, Twitter and
YouTube offer comprehensive social analytics that can give
you a good idea of how to plan your future strategy.
8. Drive Followers to Your Website
If possible, drive your audience back to your site for a deeper look at
articles, videos or tips. This can lead to more conversions for you or
new fans of your business.
ACEfitness.org: What’s Trending
Lower-Body Plyometric Workout
Plyometric exercises are ideal for clients looking to boost strength, coordination and balance while increasing caloric expenditure. Incorporating plyometrics into your clients’ programming can be a great way to complement their lower-body strength training routines. Because plyometric exercises are ballistic and highly intense, they are not appropriate for every client. Learn the right questions to ask before adding plyometrics to a client’s strength routine, and when appropriate, integrate these four lower-body plyometric movements into the training mix.
Learn more at: acefitness.org/plyometricworkout.
3 Mistakes Successful Health and Fitness Pros Avoid
Beginning your career in fitness can be exciting and daunting at the same time. Products and technology are constantly changing, and the fitness industry as a whole is continually evolving. Health and fitness professionals who evolve along with it are the ones most likely to succeed, while those who don’t are likely to struggle. And sometimes what not to do can be as critical as what to do. Avoid these three common mistakes to ensure your success as a health and fitness professional.
Learn more at: acefitness.org/avoidthesemistakes.
Coordination Exercises for Active-Aging Client
Maintaining independence is important to active-aging clients, who often notice that balance, coordination and memory decrease with age. Motor coordination is necessary to perform simple tasks, like opening jars, and complex tasks such as climbing stairs. One of the best ways to help older clients stay fit enough for these activities of daily living is with balance and agility exercises, which can benefit both motor coordination and overall well-being.
Learn more at: acefitness.org /coordinationexercises.
16 Diet Tips for Weight Loss
One of the most important factors in long-term weight loss is changing eating patterns and habits. This means slowly and mindfully integrating simple changes into our daily lives, like eating breakfast every day and sitting down to eat rather than standing up to eat. Encourage clients to incorporate these 16 simple tips into their daily routine until they become new habits that help them lose weight and keep it off.
Learn more at: acefitness.org/weightlosstips.
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