Saturday, December 10, 2016

Attempting to Mimic Elevation Training with "Elevation Training Mask"

Athletes and exercise enthusiasts have always found ways to improve training and performance; one example being the use of elevation training. A few drawbacks of elevation training are that it can be tedious, expensive and unobtainable for some. So of course, with the curiosity of humanity, the search for a more accessible way to achieve the benefits of elevation training was on. The “Elevation Training Mask 2.0”1 is one of the devices that claims to produce these benefits.
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A study by Porcari et al. was conducted to determine if any effects occurred while using an elevation training mask compared to a control group. They tested VO2max, ventilatory threshold, respiratory compensation threshold, maximum heart rate, and peak power output. The participants were put through a six-week high intensity training program on a cycle ergometer.
Changes in the participant's’ VO2 max and peak power output increased significantly due to training effects, not specifically the mask, but there was not a difference in magnitude between groups.1 There were also no significant changes in the pulmonary function and hematological variables during the training period. So, things like hemoglobin levels, hematocrit levels, and forced expiratory volume in one minute, did not improve due to the mask. The respiratory compensation threshold (+10.2) and power output at respiratory compensation threshold (+16.4).1 Respiratory compensation is when plasma pH can be altered by a changing respiratory rate. 2
Oxygen saturation tended to be lower in the mask group during exercise, but only by about 2% than the control group, which is normal during high intensity exercise. A failure to show oxygen desaturation and hematological changes suggests that the mask works more like a muscle training device than an altitude simulator.2
Although Porcari suggest that the elevation training mask acts more as an inspiratory muscle training device, he does acknowledge that the mask can have some added benefits to cardiovascular training. Of course, additional studies are needed to find exactly how much a person can benefit from this type of training, what dose should be used, and if the benefits translate to added performance in athletes.2
1Porcari, J.P., Probst, L., Forrester, K., Doberstein, S., Foster, C., Cress, M. L., and Schmidt, K. Effect of Wearing Elevation Training Mask on Aerobic Capacity, Lung Function, and Hematological Variables. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine. 2016; 15: 379-386.
2Powers, S.K. and Howley, E. T. Exercise Physiology. Theory and Application
to Fitness and Performance. 2015;

(9): 353-355.

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