Ventilatory Training Masks: Detrimental to athletic performance?
The Altitude Centre’s mission has always been to make altitude training available to everyone. The performance benefits of hypoxic training (training at simulated altitude such as our Trump Street chamber or with our home rentals) are now widely recognised. Elite, professional athletes have been using altitude training for years, enthusiastic and talented pro-ams – like you – now want a piece of the action.
Usually confined to scary gym selfies, ventilatory training masks are being sold as an alternative to hypoxic training: But do they work? New research recently published in The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research (Sellers et al., 2015) didn’t think so.
Two groups of military personnel took part in a six week intervention period (with 2-4 sessions per week), half the participants trained normally at sea level, whilst the other half trained using ventilation-restriction masks set to restrict breathing attempting to simulate altitudes of 2,740m (approx. 15% O2). Before and after the study, all participants carried out two fitness tests to establish anaerobic and aerobic capacity.
There were insignificant differences in both the anaerobic and aerobic post-line tests (measuring anaerobic capacity, fatigue index and peak power), showing virtually no difference in fitness between those who did and didn’t wear the mask.
What the study did find was that the VO2 max (aerobic capacity) of the control group (non-mask) increased by approx. 5.5 per cent, compared to the training mask group, whose VO2 max only increased by approx. 1.8 per cent. This suggests that the masks could even be detrimental to aerobic performance.
So do these masks work? The answer is no. True hypoxia is where the oxygen content of the air is manipulated to simulate real altitude. These masks simply restrict breathing, do not improve aerobic or anaerobic fitness, and nor to they help pre-acclimatisation for travelling to high altitude conditions.
To find out more about how hypoxic training can help you, give us a call on 020 7193 1626.