altitude training mask review

MMA Altitude Training Device Review: Conclusion

OK so we got 100+ Comments on Part I of the MMA Altitude Training Device Review, which tells me you guys have seen the ads and heard the hype and really want to know…

Are Altitude Training Devices Worth It?

To recap, this is where we left off last time:

“There are no studies on MMA specifically, so I had to search LONG and HARD to find something that would at least come close.

This took me FOREVER, because most of these altitude studies are done on endurance sport athlete such as runners, cyclists and cross-country skiers.

But lo and behold, I stumbled upon one, a moment before my eyes were about to explode from reading these cryptic journal articles all day. Scientists reading this – why can’t you write in normal English!”

Let’s go:

The title of this next study is, “Effects of intermittent hypoxic training on aerobic and anaerobic performance.

The subjects included 16 moderately trained team sports players, born and living at sea level, with an average age of 20 years old and weight of 175 lbs.

The average VO2 max (marker of aerobic fitness) was 52.35 ml/kg/min, making the subjects a pretty good comparison to a typical MMA population with above average aerobic fitness, which should include YOU since you’re a regular on my blog.

If not, what the heck are you doing with all the info I’ve made available, both free and premium?

Moving on…

The subjects were divided into 2 groups: control (normal exercise at sea level) and hypoxic training (HT).

Just think of HT as the altitude training group (aka Live Low Train High).

Here’s the cool part, the exercise program they put these 2 groups through is an interval training program, specifically aerobic power intervals, for those who are familiar with the term from my MMA Ripped 8-Week Training Camp or my Optimal Interval Training report.

Here’s the program the subjects followed, 3 times a week for 4 weeks on a stationary bike:

  • 10 reps of 1 minute above the Anaerobic Threshold (80% Wmax) alternated with 2 minutes below AnT (50% Wmax*)
  • Training intensity was increased by 5% after 6 workouts, then another 5% after 9 workouts

This is a decent interval training protocol as it includes a sane amount of repetitions, proper intensity recommendations and progression.

And, drum roll please, here are the results that I’ve put together for you in simple to read chart format:

Measurement Hypoxic Training
Normal Training
(Sea Level)
VO2 max + 7.2% + 8%
Wmax + 15.5% + 17.8%
Onset Blood Lactate Accumulation (OBLA) + 11.1% + 11.9%
Peak Power + 2.1% + 8.5%
Hemoglobin 15.4 –> 15.3 14.3 –> 14.5
Hematocrit 44.9 –> 44.8 43.9 –> 44.0

“What exactly do these results mean Eric?”

Basically, that when hypoxic training (training at altitude) was compared to normal training, subjects on a 4 week interval training program showed NO DIFFERENCES IN RESULTS.

That means there were NO CHANGES in:

  • Aerobic fitness (VO2 max)
  • Anaerobic power (Wmax)
  • Anaerobic lactic power (OBLA)
  • The ability of your body to transport oxygen (hemoblogin and hematocrit)…

… between training at altitude vs. training normally at sea level.

Things are NOT looking good for Altitude Training Devices!

Now, you might have noticed the difference between the 2 groups with respect to peak power, especially since I highlighted them in yellow. :)

While these #’s show that normal training resulted in greater increases in peak power, these results are tricky and are actually NOT significant.

This is mainly because the normal training group started at 729 watts vs. 872 watts of peak power, making it a lot easier for them to increase because they started at a lower level.

It’s like the guy who just starts Bench Pressing can go from 100 lbs to 200 lbs a heck of a lot quicker than the guy who has trained for years and can Bench 300 lbs and is trying to hit 400 lbs.

The bottom line is that this study, which used interval training that resembles the training an MMA guy would do, showed NO DIFFERENCES BETWEEN ALTITUDE AND NORMAL TRAINING.

I repeat…

Over a 4 Week Interval Training Program, Altitude Training
Showed No Benefit Over Normal Training at Sea Level

Sorry, but based on the pure science of altitude training, seeing as it doesn’t work at all, that would make altitude training devices pointless to begin with!

The studies I’ve cited have shown that High Altitude Training (Train High) is pretty much worthless with respect to aerobic AND anaerobic fitness.

Altitude training does not result in increased red blood cell count or improved oxygen transport, thus does not improve aerobic or anaerobic fitness at all and neither will Altitude Training Devices!

Now, let’s move on to some of the other claims these devices make:

  1. Increased lung capacity
  2. Improvements to something called your Anaerobic Threshold
  3. More energy
  4. Improvements in physical and mental endurance and mental focus… and many more.

More pretty big claims from these Altitude Training Devices I’d say!

From the study I just described, #2, 3, 4 and the “Physical stamina” portion of #5 are all out the window.

But here’s something interesting I found about #1, “Increases in Lung capacity as your lungs have to work 9 times harder to get the oxygen in.”

When using the Altitude Training Devices, yes,
your lungs do have to work harder.

But that begs me to ask,


“Do stronger lungs or increased lung capacity
result in improved performance?”

This is all that really matters and I’ve got an answer for you that comes from a highly unlikely source…

The PowerLung is another device that trains your lungs via constricted breathing.

PowerLung breathing trainer

The PowerLung constricted breathing device.

They’ve put some studies on their website here.

The one that we’re interested in as athletes is the very last one (coincidence?) found here:

The study tested a control group vs. a group that used the PowerLung five days per week for five weeks 5 sets of 25 breaths.

Let’s look at the results: using the PowerLung improved lung capacity and lung strength by measuring how much air was blown out after a maximal inhalation and how much air could be blown out in 1 second and 3 seconds.

So maybe there’s something to this constricted breathing after all?

Well, maybe not…

Here at the performance results from this study, straight from the PowerLung website:

“No significant differences for VO2 max, ventilation (VE), tidal volume (VT), or total time.

The control group demonstrated an increase in Anaerobic / Lactate Threshold (LT), a decrease in HRmax and a decrease in RERmax.”

So in terms of performance, there were no changes, except the group that didn’t use the PowerLung improved their Anaerobic Threshold!

What this means for the MMA Altitude Training Devices is that although it may improve lung strength and lung capacity, this has no bearing on aerobic fitness (VO2 max) or anaerobic fitness (AnT).

Finally, with respect to the mental aspect of having your breathing impaired, I suggest you simply train with a partner who mounts you and keeps trying to cover your airways as you try to escape…

Or, you could do this…



If you read all of this and Part 1, you’re either really interested in being in top shape for MMA (good for you!), you love to spend some money on new gadgets but do your due diligence first, or you’re just killing time, hopefully time at work that you’re getting paid for. :)

Either way, congrats for having the patience to stick with it. In today’s ADD-riddled society, this kind of patience is rare.

Now, I just want to recap everything and summarize everything for those who skipped the science stuff or those who are still a little confused.

Takeaway #1 – Training at altitude doesn’t seem to improve performance, especially with respect to the physical demands of MMA

Takeaway #2 – The claims of improved performance using Altitude Training Devices are based on more claims that altitude training improves performance, which are false and false, respectively

Takeaway #3 – Training with restricted breathing devices may improve lung strength and lung capacity, however, these improvements don’t result in any increases in aerobic or anaerobic fitness (unless your lungs are your limiting factor, which may be the case if you have COPD or some other lung disease)

These are my conclusions, based on this study and others I’ve read.

Are these conclusions definitive?

Unfortunately, in science, no, they’re not. They never are. For every variable, you’ll find some studies that find a benefit, some studies that don’t, and a bunch that show no difference.

But here’s what I’m going to do – use my BRAIN.

When you restrict breathing (Altitude Training Devices)
or oxygen (altitude), you can’t work as hard.

This is a fact.

It may feellike you’re working hard as heck, but in fact, the intensity will be much lower than what you could do without one of these devices or at sea level.

If you can’t work at a certain intensity level, you can’t push certain systems to the point where they can adapt.

Remember that old core training principle of adaptation.

So, because you can’t work at an intensity that will cause beneficial adaptations, you won’t get adaptations.

For submaximal endurance sports (ie marathon running, long distance cycling, etc), the case is very different, but for a mixed sport like MMA, where there’s a whole lot of high intensity going on, I think that altitude training devices are a waste of time, and will go the way of the Ab Belt and Shake Weight.

Oh, wait, the Ab Belt and Shake Weight are still around?

Oh well. At least those on the inside, like anyone who is subscribed to my newsletter gets the real TRUTH. Too bad for the rest of the shee-ple.

You and I both know that shortcuts with no negative effects are few and far between.

If you were going to buy any altitude training devices, I suggest you spend your money somewhere wiser, like some good quality organic food, or maybe a periodized strength and conditioning program that’s PROVEN to work.

Thanks for sticking with me. Boy my fingers sure are tired!

The last thing I’d like to ask of you:

Please do me a favour and Share this with your friends via the Facebook buttons below or just go old school and email them the link to this article.

I put a lot of work into this article series, so if you appreciate it, show me by spreading the good word my friend; spread the good word.


Eric “MMA’s Myth Buster” Wong

P.S. In case you were wondering, this post is serious and NOT tongue-in-cheek and no, I do not make any money if you purchase an Altitude Training Device, Ab Belt, or Shake Weight. :)

MMA Altitude Training Device Review FAQ

Here are some questions I know will be asked, if you have any more, let me know in the Comments section and I’ll answer them for you.

Q: How exactly does altitude training stimulate red blood cells?

A: Come on, weren’t you reading – it doesn’t! But living at altitude does (Live High). This is because the amount of oxygen in the air is less than at sea level, which is different than just not being able to breathe in enough air.

Here’s basically how it works: with normal breaths at altitude, your body doesn’t get much oxygen so it thinks, “I need more O2 or I’m gonna DIE! What should I do?”

Then this hormone EPO through the body’s infinite wisdom increases, which then stimulates the production of red blood cells.

But this takes time, like constant daily exposure over weeks, not over the hour or two of training that you might do in a day.

Q: So is wearing Altitude Training Devices  actually like being at altitude?

This is a fundamental question that I realize I didn’t address in the main articles so I’ll talk about it here.

In short – NO.

Here’s why…

At altitude, you aren’t getting  as much oxygen because each liter of air has less oxygen in it (due to lower atmospheric pressure at altitude).

When you’re wearing one of these devices, each liter of air has the same amount of oxygen, you’re just getting less air overall.

You don’t get any altitude benefits because when you inhale, you’re getting less air than normal, but the % of oxygen stays the same.

When the normal amount of oxygen comes in with this breath, there is nothing different for your brain to adapt to, unlike at altitude, when you take in a normal breath, there is far less oxygen, so your brain goes, “Holy crap, what’s going on – I’d better do something about this or I’m gonna die.”

Q: If I wear Altitude Training Devices to bed, will it help stimulate increased red blood cells?

A: Nope, not at all, because when at rest, your body is getting the same amount of air and oxygen it always does, so it will not need to adapt to anything, just maybe a little stronger breathing at rest, which would be wasteful and unwanted. But if your wife asks you to wear an altitude training device to bed that’s another story ;)


Leave a Reply

176 Comments on "MMA Altitude Training Device Review: Conclusion"

2 months 10 days ago

Awesome, thanks for the info. When i first saw the mask, I found it obvious to be a scam. This is exactly what i was looking for, I’m a Med student and i find it shameful that my classmates don’t realize how stupid the mask is.Great sources. Thanks

4 months 6 days ago

Nice article Eric .. I’m about to become a pro MMA fighter and this was very useful.. One question tho… What if I train high live low and I have a fight in high altitude, will performance still be great. Cardio is one of my best attributes. And also KICKING lol thanks for your time..

5 months 6 days ago

Hello Eric,

Great reading your article on training mask. It resonates with my thoughts on the device. I had a bad case of asthma develop many years ago due to work toxins however that since be handled but the device reminds me more of those scary and hard days. I guess the positive is just appreciating breathing :) I look forward to your articles. Much success in 2015 Patrick

9 months 13 days ago

I was wondering if you meant altitude training (with hypoxic air) or did you mean resistance training? Because many companies sell resistance training masks as altitude masks.

9 months 20 days ago

Gave the xenon stuff a try — holy crap! Kind of hard to describe. Bottom line — definitely works. Endurance up, RHR down, and recovery seems much easier. First, I do a lot of the stuff Eric talks about in his newsletters — writing down my work outs, working on breathing, etc. So, this is not just an “I feel better” type of thing. I work harder, longer. Also, RHR is now 52 — from 58 4 weeks ago. I will give Eric credit for having me focus on the RHR — definitely helps. But this xenon stuff is insane in terms of what it does with your breathing. This is not a “training mask.” I couldn’t last 2 minutes on it the first time — and you are not working out, just breathing.

Anyway, if anyone else has tried it, I would be interested in hearing how you use it. Unfortunately, the company that sells it doesn’t really say anything MMA specific on how to train with it.

10 months 10 days ago

There is a video here: about some device that reduces the oxygen that you breathe. I wish someone would do the same video with one of these masks to see what it does.

[…] Article by Eric Wong […]

11 months 20 days ago

Thanks for this article. After seeing several guys doing anaerobic lifts in the gym, specifically bicep curls, it’s good to see that someone has actually done some research on these absurd “devices”.

11 months 29 days ago

would you or not recommend the Elevation Training Mask 2.0 for a track and field runner who is looking to increase their lung capacity to run farther. i myself train everyday working out so i have a decent amount of muscle right for the job

11 months 30 days ago

Hey – thanks for the review!
I jumped on board and bought one of these bad boys… Sure feels like I’m working harder, but now that I understand the science a bit more, and I realize I am not actually doing more with less, I am, in reality, doing less with less but feeling more, I wonder if I should continue…
I think I will because it’s different challenge and I enjoy it, but if I don’t see or feel results within the next couple weeks or months, I might just put it aside until my wife suggests we take it to the bed room…

1 year 12 days ago

Great article. I have a question about using xenon to exercise your lungs. A company sells a device that claims many of the same things as the various “altitude” training devices you reviewed. (See ).

Apparently, this xenon training has been banned by the world anti-doping agency. So, my question is, does this actually work? If not, why ban it?

Second, assuming that it does something, is this something of use for MMA training?

1 year 10 days ago

I cannot express a strong opinion on this because I’ve never used it before, nor do I know anyone who has.

I’ve never researched it, but just for the heck of it I did a search for “dangers of breathing xenon” and I found this quote:

“You could safely breathe a 80-20 mix of argon and oxygen indefinitely, as far as I know. Such mixtures are sometimes used by professional divers, as argon is far less absorbable into blood than nitrogen, presenting less risk of decompression sickness.

Breathing a 80-20 mix of xenon and oxygen might prove dangerous in the long term, because xenon is substantially heavier than oxygen; the increased weight of such a mixture could possibly strain the lungs, and you might end up with pockets of a xenon-carbon dioxide mixture in the lungs that you might not be able to readily expel.

It should be safe to take a single deep breath of xenon (which will give you an incredibly deep and gravelly voice on the way back out) as long as your lungs are in good shape. It may take several breaths to clear all of the xenon back out afterwards, and I shouldn’t advise strenuous activity immediately afterwards as your total gaseous exchange capacity will be somewhat compromised while the remaining xenon diffuses back out.

Neither argon nor xenon is inherently toxic. Extended attempts to breathe pure argon or pure xenon will kill you, obviously.

Argon and xenon are both noble gases. Of the six noble gases, helium and neon are not known to form compounds under any conditions, while argon, krypton, xenon, and radon can be forced to form chemical compounds with fluorine or oxygen under extreme conditions not generally to be found in the places where humans routinely travel.”

Personally, I wouldn’t mess with it, and now since it’s WADA banned, I wouldn’t recommend it to any athletes competing in any regulated/tested sport.

Will Tracy
9 months 10 days ago

I know a little bit about martial arts training and would recommend many of your training techniques. But I question some of the conclusions you make to prove a point. First breathing pure oxygen for an extended period will also kill you, so how does that prove that argon and xenon are any more dangerous? Second, both helium and neon do form compounds or Ions, HeNe, HgHe10, WHe2 and Ions He+ 2, He2+2, HeH, HeD+ and Ions Ne+, (NeAr)+, (NeH)+, (HeNe+).
However these are so rare, as are xenon compounds and Ions, that for all practical purposes, they do not exist. That being said, how did you come up with the theory that there could be a xenon-carbon dioxide mixture?
I can understand your reluctance to recommend breathing xenon. I’ve had my martial arts website on line for over eighteen years and have never recommended any product or training program. However, for you to say “since (xenon’s) WADA banned, I wouldn’t recommend it to any athletes competing in any regulated/tested sport” is a bit overreaching. I don’t know who regulates college sports in Canada, but the NCAA does not ban breathing xenon. Yet NCAA regulates and tests for banned drugs; and it would appear inconsistent for the NCAA to permit a drug so dangerous that it would kill WADA athletes, while not have any adverse effect on college students.
I started using XenAir’s, XenOx 50% xenon 49%+ oxygen since it came out on July 14, and the results for me are so impressive that I am recommending it to every on my website to every Kenpo Karate instructor and student, as well as any elite or endurance athlete.
I’m not sure what the regulations are for sending xenon to Canada, but if it can be done, if you would like, I will have XenAir send you their XenOx to try.

1 year 9 days ago

Thanks Eric. I may give it a try — I try all sorts of these fitness products. I even tried your Altitude Training Towel. Have to say, it doesn’t really help my fitness. I’d ask for my $79 back, but it does dry me off pretty well after a workout, so I guess it is worth the money.

9 months 20 days ago

Gave the xenon stuff a try — holy crap! Kind of hard to describe. Bottom line — definitely works. Endurance up, RHR down, and recovery seems much easier. First, I do a lot of the stuff Eric talks about in his newsletters — writing down my work outs, working on breathing, etc. So, this is not just an “I feel better” type of thing. I work harder, longer. Also, RHR is now 52 — from 58 4 weeks ago. I will give Eric credit for having me focus on the RHR — definitely helps. But this xenon stuff is insane in terms of what it does with your breathing. This is not a “training mask.” I couldn’t last 2 minutes on it the first time — and you are not working out, just breathing.

Anyway, if anyone else has tried it, I would be interested in hearing how you use it. Unfortunately, the company that sells it doesn’t really say anything MMA specific on how to train with it.

1 year 1 month ago

Thanks for sharing these results!

1 year 1 month ago

Impressive analysis.
Kind of surprising, tho, bec I thought Bas Rutten was a pretty upfront honest guy, and his O2 trainer seems to have gotten good (unplanted) reviews on amazon.

On another note, stressing the lungs can be problematic. An ER physician was telling me about various pulmonary syndromes unique to opera singers and wind players. So mebbe this kind of taxing of lung function is not such a good idea.

1 year 1 month ago

Interesting Angst.

Did the ER doc tell you what these syndromes were by name?

1 year 2 months ago

Thanks a bunch for really clearing that up, I have been considering trying an altitude mask for a while but definitely don’t want to drop $90 if it isn’t going to help at all! I appreciate you breaking down the studies too, not many people understand the what the results actually mean!

1 year 2 months ago

Love your stuff and kind of just having fun exploring this and being devil’s advocate. I’ve only ever messed around with an altitude training device for a couple of sessions and I will say…during those sessions my lifting numbers and work capacity were EXACTLY the same as usual…if anything the badass factor of wearing a gas-masked Psyched me up!
I’m not going to argue with the findings of this study…but the study was done for low living high altitude training…and you also stated that altitude masks DON’T stimulate high altitude training. So essentially that study on anaerobic performance states that training in less dense oxygen air produces no significant results as compared to sea level…but the study DOESN”T state that training with lower intake of air with the same oxygen content (21% I believe) has no effect on anaerobic conditioning,recovery time, or increased lung capacity leading to increasing amount of air and hence oxygen per breath. The mask makes one take in less air…the take it off and expand less energy taking in the normal amount of air or more=more oxygen (so it seems). It seems that numerous citations, both as common knowledge and in scientific articles suggest an increase in lung capacity leads to increased cardiovascular fitness, decreased recovery time, and increase in longevity and overall health+ a DECREASE in inflammation in lungs. Reducing inflammation seems potentially beneficial to fight performance. “Lung capacity is the amount of air that can move in and out of the lungs during a breath. The basic principle is the greater the volume of air that can be inhaled and exhaled during exercise, the greater the amount of oxygen that can be absorbed into the blood stream. More oxygen leads to improved performance during aerobic work. (So this would seem to improve aerobic base for mma but not anaerobic endurance)

As a result of training a number of adaptations occur within the lungs, due to the increased efficiency of the lungs, rather than changes in the size of the lungs. The strength and endurance of the lung tissue and surrounding muscles increases, a greater volume of air can be inhaled and exhaled as well as faster breathing (ventilation). Training also increases the number of capillaries in the lungs, allowing more oxygen to be absorbed with each breath taken.
” Furthermore the scientific evidence establishing no difference with the PowerLung is no indication of results with an ‘altitude mask’…one you perform breathing exercises into…the other is worn during training. Similar principles different mode of training. Also in the clinical study it also says: ” Clinical Relevance:
Pulmonary compromised individuals who have a greater room for improvement when compared to seasoned collegiate athletes would most likely benefit from utilizing the Powerlung protocol we established in these experiments.” I don’t see why that couldn’t be true…like you said its a heck of a lot easier to get a bench from 100-200 then 300-400. And Its even more difficult for high level endurance athletes to up their V02 max (near their genetic potential)..than for strength or power based high level athletes to improve performance.) The biggest feedback I’ve heard from both Amazon reviews, and fighters at my gym who use it…are that it helps with breath regulation and mental stress when in an intense fight situation…and it greatly reduces recovery time between intense exercise. Those are two good reasons to drop $80 right there..and train smart with the thing if your going to get into a cage with someone trying to whoop you. Lastly the program they were in was 4 WEEKS….that just might not be long enough to see training effects….also 1 minute at 80% and then 2 minutes at 50%.!…that seems a little light compared to MMA training…it took a 3 minutes of heavy full body snatches and pull ups back to back to even start to feel the difficult breathing of the mask effects…let alone the bare minimum height of high altitude …training at cruise control.

tommy Belt
1 year 2 months ago

The device teaches you to breathe deeply and stay relaxed,something that is very important in all sports but especially fighting!!! Most here are too focused on one thing and completely missing the simple thing! Deep/Relaxed breathing……………………!!!!!

Russ Hamilton
1 year 2 months ago

If air is of lets say the same importance as water in training, would you try to acclimatize your body to using less and less water ? My guess is that you might see some small benefit concerning only the ability to get by with a little less but it would never improve time or distance. I realize this analogy might be a bit flawed but it might still in someway be valid.

Respiratory Therapist
1 year 2 months ago

Great article and pretty good information here. If I may chime in, these “high altitude training masks” are a gimmick and they can be dangerous if you currently has respiratory issues such as COPD, Cystic Fibrosis, Asthma, etc. There is no way you can “replicate” high altitude, without actually being in high altitude. Again, from Eric’s research and my years as a Respiratory Therapist, you have to physically be in High Altitude in order to have your RBC’s increased in order to feed your body the necessary oxygen. This means MONTHS and YEARS of living at an higher altitude and training. Many of you say, “Well, Mr. Respiratory Therapist, the masks limit your O2, therefore, your body will compensate for the lack of oxygen by creating more RBC, ha in your face.” Well, no, your body goes through what we call “compensation”. You are physically depriving your body of oxygen by restricting your airways and breathing, so this will eventually throw off your bodies pH levels (CO2 build-up, low PaO2) and as well as your motor skills, judgement, fatigue, CNS system failure, and in worse case scenarios, possible death. Of course, I’m sure once you figured, “I’m getting really light headed, maybe I should take this mask off”, sets, you should really take that mask off. Without the studies of Pulmonary Function Testings (PFT’s) and ABG samples while on the mask aren’t done, we can not be surely conclusive, but common sense and a little science shows that training masks can not be as advantageous as you expected. Put it like this, if you really want to restrict your oxygen levels, don’t buy an $80 mask, rather, just wrap a towel around your nose and mouth and it’s basically the same concept. Common sense would tell you that’s dumb, but since it looks cool, common sense is out the door. So, low O2+Hard Workout = BAD.

Elliott Lyons
1 year 3 months ago

Did you realize that as elevation increases there is a lack of oxygen because of the thinning of the atmosphere. When you put a Restriction mask on it limits the amount of oxygen to a level of which you would be getting at a high altitude. Also have fun with your intervals try a 6 months of 6 miles a day 6 days a week and see what it will do for you. I would have to say a whole lot more than “Hard” intervals (which means about 10 minutes of actual work and 20 minutes of waiting for the specified rest time to be over).

Russ Hamilton
1 year 4 months ago

Thanks for putting this information out there. One of the things that I have always wondered about was the reverse of this type of training. In other words what if you trained with supplemental oxygen which would allow you to extend your time until failure of your muscles etc…and would that not help endurance ? Just a thought but wondering if any research had been done…..

1 year 5 months ago

after the live low train high research, can u do one for live high train high? yes, more research :)

1 year 6 months ago

What a information of un-ambiguity and preserveness of precious knowledge regarding
unexpected emotions.

Joe Berger
1 year 8 months ago

I feel like people are over analyzing this. If the mask (or any device/method) makes a certain effort harder, than it is beneficial even from just a mental standpoint. We all know how important mental toughness is in combat sports. There’s chemicals in the brain involved with that kind of thing, which makes mental training very much physical, if you really think about it. But I digress… Anyways, I don’t see how you can acknowledge that the mask will increase the strength of intercostal muscles and your diaphram muscle, but claim that it has no benefit at all on your cardio…?? I understand that endurance athletes get more of a benefit from this than combat athletes, but still. I agree that for certain exercises, it is better to just take the mask off and GO harder and faster, for whatever it is that you’re doing, than it is to have the mask on. BUT, for those days when you need to get in a 5 mile run, say you’re not running slower than an 8 minute pace regardless of the conditions. You’d be better off wearing the mask for that than to not wear it, if you weren’t going to be running much faster at that distance, anyways. Also, is it always necessary to be sprinting, doing burpees, circuits, etc at the fastest speed possible? You don’t sprint in the ring/cage. The real purpose of conditioning workouts are the effects on your heart and lungs. If the mask taxes your heart and lungs more so than not wearing it, then it shouldn’t concern you that your workout is not as fast or as explosive without it. Vary it. Wear it on some days and don’t wear it on other days. The time to be explosive and fast is sparring or technical work, anyways. Condition like a fighter, not a track star. Don’t worry that your sprint times aren’t as powerful or fast because you wear the mask. If anything, the mask teaches you to breathe more efficiently. Which I can only see as being useful in combat sports. Just my 2 cents.

1 year 8 months ago

I I feel like people are overthinking this. If the mask makes a certain effort harder, from a mental standpoint alone that is going to help you. And we all know how important a mental edge is in combat sports. I also don’t see how you can acknowledge that the mask will strengthen intercostal muscles in your diaphragm…but have no benefit and your conditioning.How would stronger repiratory muscles not help you? And I agree that for certain exercises, it is better to train harder and with more intensity without the mask, then to have one on. But for a long run in which you aren’t going to be running faster than an 8 minute pace, it is probably better to have the mask on for that pace since you probably wouldn’t run much faster without it, anywaus. And finally, the speed of uour runs or sprints shouldn’t matter that much to a fighter. You don’t run in the ring. The purpose is conditioning. While increasing

Liam Marshman
1 year 9 months ago

Ah I see you’re really plugging your book!

1 year 9 months ago

Hi! Someone in my Myspace group shared this website with us so I came to look it over.

I’m definitely enjoying the information. I’m book-marking and will be tweeting this to my followers!
Fantastic blog and wonderful style and design.

1 year 9 months ago

Let me start by saying two things. 1. I never understood the claim about simulating altitude training because I can’t see how it would. 2. I have a training mask anyway and I use it for breathing resistance.

That said, many athletes find using resistance on a regular basis to be beneficial to training. It’s a very simple concept we are all familiar with. For example, carrying a backpack on a hike regularly makes hiking without one easier. An ultra heavyweight gi makes a regular gi feel like pajamas. Running with a weight vest makes running without one feel light. Any regular, consistent resistance will encourage the body to adapt by getting stronger. Breathing resistance, for me, has had the same effect. Running with the mask fatigues the muscles used for inspiration, which gives them a reason to get stronger and have more endurance. It also makes me control my rhythm and take longer, slower breaths. When I run without it with the guys from work, it is now much easier to keep up with them even though they are men. I can even carry a conversation while running without feeling like I’m going to drop dead from poor breathing. The same effect seems to have carried over to my thirty minute heavy bag workouts.

Anyway, since apparently weakness of breathing was a pretty steady limiting factor for me in the past, now I can focus more on leg strength and running technique. So while I completely agree with you that a resistance breathing apparatus is not like altitude training, there are other potential athletic benefits to using one.

The Contractor
1 year 9 months ago

Well researched and reasoned article, Eric. I appreciate the way your mind works.

2 years 26 days ago

Great article, but one thing you didn’t take into account is fortitude, I understand yes you won’t be able to work as hard with the mask on, but after you become numb to wearing the mask you won’t even notice it on, just like wearing a weight vest , or water training , or even wearing a gi for the first time.

2 years 1 month ago

I am having trouble understanding this article to be honest, I am only 16 so cut me some slack. I really am just wondering what affect will this elevation altitude training device have on my conditioning. My friend has one and his conditioning has greatly improved as well as his breathing habits (more efficient). I am not expecting for it to be like one of those “Woooo 10 min. workout and I’ll be ripped” type of deal, I am just trying to figure out if this would first help with oxygen efficiency and second improve cardio efficiency.

1 year 10 months ago

Head, meet Desk. Desk, Head.

2 years 1 month ago

As usual, if it seems to good to be true; it is too good to be true.
There are no shortcuts to better performance.
Train well, live well, good nutrition and informed coaches with a positive attitude will get results.

2 years 2 months ago

Great stuff man! I think these gadgets are over rated, everyone is hopping on the MMA hype train like a bunch of mindless sheep, because coming from experience I can tell you that nothing beats plain old hard work and dedication! There are no short cuts, and training your body to do things that are not practical in an actual fight is really stupid. You need to be part of a good team, and spar as much as you possibly can with those good team mates, because this is the only real formula for success, not some gas mask looking snorkel device, I must admit though, the new 2.0 mask has a pretty cool Bane look to it, I’d wear it for Halloween for sure lol :)

Tommy Belt
2 years 4 months ago

Funny,these conclusions were drawn,as I have worked with the mask,with a cardiologist’s backing.Training fighters and other athletes and we found quite the opposite to be true.
The mask is a very effective training device,that works close to it’s advertised claims.

2 years 4 months ago

You’re totally misquoting the first study. It was a 4-week study, far too short for the body to completely acclimate in time. It even says:

It is concluded that ACUTE exposure of moderately trained subjects to normobaric hypoxia during a short-term training programme consisting of moderate- to high-intensity intermittent exercise has no enhanced effect on the degree of improvement in either aerobic or anaerobic performance. These data suggest that if there are any advantages to training in hypoxia for sea level performance, they would not arise from the SHORT-TERM protocol employed in the present study.

For you to conclusively say that it doesn’t work is taking their study way out of context. I didn’t even care to read the rest of what you wrote because you’re clearly interested only in spinning facts to fit your agenda.

2 years 4 months ago

Adam, I completely agree with you.

I really think that this “article”/”study” was written and performed by a person who is bias and opinionated, not based on real facts.

2 years 3 months ago

One thing that this article does state in a round about way but doesn’t really make an issue about is that this mask is not like actually training in a high altitude place to begin with. It just makes it hard to breath; the same as breathing only through your nose instead of your mouth during intense training. So your getting less oxygen and also not blowing off as much CO2. I’m not a doctor but I would think this would create a more acidic environment in your body that would be bad. When actually training in a high altitude the air has less oxygen in it. It’s a whole different thing. There is equipment out there that actually simulates this experience by removing oxygen from the air, but it is not quite as simple or mobile as the altitude training device. I think this is kind of a scam and more of a marketing product that will be forgotten about in a few years.

2 years 4 months ago

Eric, I’m sure the broad thrust of your argument (not mimicking altitude, restricting workouts, etc) is correct. Certainly I wouldn’t want to argue in person….However a decent (peer reviewed) case is made for IMT (Inspiratory Muscle Training not Infinite monkey theorem!) in (with look inside of the intro)
1) Training the the Inspiratory Muscles to be more efficient will then require less oxygen (and/or CO2 removal), leaving more capacity for the major muscles.
2) These same muscle perform core stability duties too, and specific training may help for particular situations of ‘double use’ overload.
However the performance affects they postulate are marginal, not dramatic.The biggest claim is for subjective ‘comfort’ for intense exercise . after separate IMT sessions

No one has mentioned (including the above book) the argument made by Artour Rakhimov. that a major benefit of the mask is adaptation to higher CO2 in the ‘dead volume’ of unexpired air. Not sure what to make of that, but from recent reading I have become aware that CO2 can be more important than oxygen when it comes to breathing limitations.

2 years 4 months ago

Thanks for a link to an interesting book. Does Inspiratory Muscle Training by Alison McConnell imply using technical tools like altitude training device or is it about some special exercises?

Many endurance sportsmen – runners, cross-country skiers, etc. train on a high altitude. As a mountain climber I’m aware of profound change in physical abilities which happens after being on a high elevation for a while and fully acclimatising. After we come back for a couple of months or so our endurance is sky-high. But obviously there is a huge difference between increasing of endurance by training on a high altitude and wearing altitude training device….

Alan Parrales
2 years 5 months ago

When you said for marathon runners it is different, how so? Is it beneficial when training for a marathon?

2 years 5 months ago

Do you think this mask would help with swimming? I am a sprint swimmer and the less I breathe during my race the faster I go. I figure if I use the mask during running and lifting that it would help.

David Wahl MA, CSCS
2 years 5 months ago

As an aside, there are planty of MMA specific studies. If you would like some, let me know.

2 years 5 months ago

Will it help if you’re trying to increase stamina in running? I enlist in the Marine Corps in february, my time on 1.5 miles is 11:30 but i want it down to at least 7 minutes, will using elevation mask 2.0 and weight vest will it increase my stamina?

2 years 24 days ago

Hi Jonah. I was scrolling through the comments and came across yours. Sadly no gadget on Gods green earth is going to help you get your 1.5miler down to 7 minutes. That’s a big jump mate – you’re talking about running a mile at 4 minutes 40 seconds and maintaining that pace to get the 1.5 miles in 7 minutes.

For my pre-joining fitness test (royal marine commandos) we did two 1.5 mile runs separated by a 1 minute rest and taking into account that the first 1.5 miles was a slow jog, I completed the second in 9 minutes, which works out at a 6 minute mile – its a respectable pace but it could be better.

I would suggest ditching the weighted vest – if you’re running at the pace you would need to be to be getting even 6 minute miles, you will absolutely shoot your knees to bits so I would avoid that mate and stick with good old fashioned running. Try sticking in plenty of sprints between stints of endurance running – here’s an example of a fun one I use –

Jog three sides of a football field – sprint one
Jog two sides of a football field – sprint two
Jog one side of a football field – sprint three
Sprint all four sides – then walk around it slowly to recover
REPEAT the whole thing another 3 times – this should make you quiver and will help with endurance – it’ll hopefully speed your times up too.

Good luck mate.

2 years 6 months ago

Thanks for clearing my doubts about this mask. I was wondering why these
people were using it and to me it made no sence because it is just
restricting oxigen, thus minimizing the oxigen needed to workout the desired
muscles. The only thing this guys are going to get out of thismask is a weak

2 years 7 months ago

Great article. I will not get a altitude training device to improve my sea-level performance. However, I am planning to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. Do you think training with the mask will help me acclimate better and therefore have an easier time with the climb?

Stephen Szibler
2 years 7 months ago

Nice, USMC! I’ve been using an Airlife (respitory thing they’d use for COPD in a hospital) that I got from Freecycler. Only using occasionally, but i don’t think it hurts if breathing muscles are strengthened!

USMC Firefighter
2 years 7 months ago

I can tell you one thing is for sure it worked amazing for me. While i was at the DOD fire academy I had difficulty breathing in my SCBA(self contained breathing apparatus). The SCBA is a pressurized mask that firefighters use to breathe in clean oxygen rather then smoke and flame. The SCBA is pressurized to stop smoke from getting in, in other words if anywhere on your mask there is a break in the air tight seal air will blow out not letting the smoke in. During the strenuous drills we had to do I was loosing my breath very quickly and easily because the pressurization simulated high altitude. One of my Instructors noticed this and knowing I was a Marine fresh out of boot camp I shouldn’t be having cardio problem like this recommended the mask to me. So with doubt I bought the mask not expecting much. When I received the mask later that week I began using my mask on runs which included sprinting for about a week. The next physical objective I had for the course was 53 extrication and is one of the most feared objective because it was a complete and total break off. I DOMINATED the objective and came out looking like a champ, I never lost my breathe and out preformed most of my class mates. You can back your studies up with as much science as you want, I used the mask and it is worth it weight in gold. I will defiantly back this mask up and I recommended it to some of my fellow marines at the academy with me. They all had amazing results as well. Forget what ever science you want to come up with this mask works amazingly. Semper Fi 7051 Crash Crew

2 years 3 months ago

I don’t really understand what your trying to say. How does wearing a pressurized breathing apparatus simulate a high altitude? That would be a very low altitude if compared to anything. And it would be the exact opposite of wearing an Altitude Training Device. The only benefit you would possibly get from this mask is to increase muscle strength of your lungs which would just help you drain your oxygen bottle faster in your duties as a firefighter. Actually doing high altitude training would possibly help you train your body to operate more efficiently with less oxygen which could translate into working longer using less air in your bottle as a firefighter.

2 years 7 months ago

Great article man…just saved me from buying that garbage, not to mention the weird looks in the gym.

2 years 2 months ago

I just got the new altitude training device 2.0 wether or not it similates high altitude i deff notice the extra work i put in from wearing it i sweat twice as much so to me anything thats makes me work twice as hard by doing what i usually do is a winner for me. And i get plenty of weird looks at the gym but alot asling me wear to buy one. So for me its a win.

2 years 7 months ago

It’s great to see a good analysis of this product and of training in general. There is too much pseudo-science, wishful thinking, and BS marketing when it comes to sport training, and it is rare to see an article or commentary that is thoughtful and based on reality not fantasy.

2 years 8 months ago

Does anybody see a problem running around the neighbourhood wearing one of these?

What were they thinking of?

Bob Marley
2 years 8 months ago

I understand that the elevation mask does not simulate elevation and does not have a benefit when compared to working out without one. I have had a section of my right lung removed and suffer from asthma and have a really low lung capacity/lung strength, would i benefit from using one just to improve lung power / capacity?

2 years 8 months ago

Well what about that UFC show in Broomfield, CO a year or so ago? I remember one fight in particular between Mark Hunt and that tall bald-headed wrestler (Rothwell?). Granted those are huge guys, but they gassed out miserably and everyone attributed it to the elevation.

Is the elevation thing just a long-standing myth? Would one fatigue if not acclimatized, but LLTH still end up not working? What about Tito’s famous altitude training (again maybe an explanation: few guys worked as hard as Tito).

This was a great article, really appreciate you doing the research and sharing. Planning on taking an altitude vacation before my black belt test, but this gives me some good information to consider.

2 years 9 months ago

I have asthma and bought this mask to help increase my lung capacity, would this counter-act the asthma in any way? i also have inhalers i use.

2 years 9 months ago

4 weeks is a decent interval program? U goof, 4 weeks of interval training will barely change your fitness levels mask or no mask. The point of the study was to see if the altitude training device made a useless training program useful. To increas all forms of aerobic fitness you have to commit to long term goals and train hard for long stretches of time. It’s at the 12 week and 24 week markers that fitness really starts to change. Eric “the myth buster” Wong doesn’t have a clue about restricted breath training.

2 years 9 months ago

Regardless of the duration of the study, the mask doesn’t mimic altitude training at all and is restricted breathing training.

I’ve also provided some research on restricted breathing training in this (or the last) post.

Live high, train low if you can and yes, follow a structured, periodized program over the long-term.

The speed at which fitness changes depends on the individual’s training history and program. And fitness continues to change over years, so in your argument, 12 or 24 weeks are still just a drop in the bucket.

2 years 9 months ago

I would like to share my opinion, I work in an Oxygen-deficient room almost for a year now, that’s 11 hours a day in an oxygen-deficient room. I work with Liquid Nitrogen, I believed that with all these gas of Nitrogen filling the room, this actually mimics altitude training.
Now, the breaking news, I went to an oval track to run, I was out of breath in 30 secs. I believe now that, Nothing replaces actual running.

2 years 10 months ago

Interesting! Thanks for your thoughts. I agree with you that it doesn’t seem like using the cheap masks *during* exercise would be very helpful, since, as you said it would limit your maximal efforts. That might work with something like occlusion training/Kaatsu (used during muscle building during weight lifting) where you see actual hormonal and other metabolic changes similar to full intensity training at 20-50% of the intensity, but it doesn’t look like there’s evidence to support those kinds of changes with these devices. The towel would probably be just as good for that!

I checked out the cost of the Spiro Tiger by email and it was $1075 to $1400, more than I want to spend on something I’m still unclear about. This device seems similar to the Power Lung that you mentioned or the Power Breathe (much cheaper devices in the $70 range). Probably the only difference is an
ability to monitor and change resistance.

They don’t seem to be claiming increases in red blood cell count or other metabolic changes that the hypoxicators can help with, but, rather improvements to the “inspiratory muscles”. These devices would not be used during exercise, but separately, kind of like lifting weights for your diaphragm, etc.

Here’s what they claim:

“Research has shown that the inspiratory muscles have such a huge task to perform that they can ‘steal’ blood from our exercising limbs to supplement their work (Harms et al., 1998). The effect of this is to limit the performance of those limb muscles – making exercise feel harder and impairing performance. New research has now shown that specific inspiratory muscle training (IMT) improves the efficiency of the inspiratory muscles (Sharpe & McConnell, 1998), with the consequence that performance in laboratory controlled trials is improved by almost 30% (Caine & McConnell, 1998).”

This research isn’t all that “new”, however – ’98. I’m also wondering if there are any dangers associated with this kind of training, like pneumothorax. Even if it does work maybe you could get the same results from blowing up balloons or using your patented towel apparatus!

Or how about blowing up balloons or blowing out a candle with pursed-lips?

2 years 10 months ago

While I am glad you have provided evidence to debunk the idea that the masks provide a similar benefit to true altitude training, it should be noted that there are products that do. Go2Altitude and others who sell hypoxicators that process air to reflect high altitude conditions DO work.

Now the question might be “Work for what?”. Well, they do help you acclimatize for mountaineering. The idea of train high sleep low is one that is essential in getting to a mountain summit and it is common to carry gear to an advance camp and then sleep at a lower base camp. Doing so DOES help you acclimate which indicates that your ability to do a certain amount with a limited O2 intake can be achieved using such techniques. The real hypoxicators do give you the ability to train 5on/5off or 30on, etc while doing a bike or climber and they DO effect your lung capacity. They are also (sadly) not $90 – more like $4-5K.

Now will all this help you with MMA? That is harder to say. Fighting is more like multiple 5 minute wind sprints than it is an endurance sport. But I can say for myself at least that after a few months of hypoxic training ANY aerobic activity I do has shown improvement.

2 years 10 months ago

So overall, I originally wanted to try using the altitude training device or a power breath apparatus while I run or spin on a bike or on practice days for my trails (going up and down a steep hill x5 and going up & down 180 steps x5).

I wanted to do this to prep up for my Mt. Kilamanjaro trek in October.

I now have 3 months lefts to train as hard as I can for this. If I use the power breath before I do these exercises ( or use them during them), will I see any improvements in my ability (aerobic, anerobic, whatever) or would it be better to just do it without one???

Same question for the altitude training device??

Which one would give the best improvement??

Flat out– yes or no?? To buy or not to buy??

2 years 10 months ago

I can’t give a truly scientific answer, but this (I’ll explain in a moment) is what I’m going to try to improve my biking. BTW, bike racing is probably more similar to MMA than I was thinking earlier. Time trialing and triathlon, yes, is more endurance based without short maximal efforts, but bicycle racing consists of periods of relative easy (but still hard riding) followed by periods of intense attacks and maximal efforts. Many triathletes simply cannot keep up with racers because they have not trained their bodies to recover after these efforts. It’s like doing intervals.

I would guess that there are times during MMA, say during a wrestling clinch, when one is not at maximal effort, but rather enduring for the next move.

So, anyway, I’m going to buy myself a bag of balloons which I will start blowing up daily until I’m tired of it. Since I’m injured anyway this should not be a waste of my time or money.

I wouldn’t waste my money on these other devices until I hear proof that they’re any better than blowing up balloons or blowing out candles with pursed-lips.

Just my .02.

[…] understand how acclimatization actually works, it’s no surprise that the research for hypoxic masks and tents seems unconvincing, and their use remains controversial. Maybe these things do work, and […]

2 years 10 months ago

Sorry to make a third post, but I just had another thought.

The Spiro Tiger/Power Breathe are meant to be used separately from your workout, which would solve the problem of the device interfering with maximal efforts during training.

I wonder if the “Elevation Training” mask could also be used in that way.

I still need to take a look at your “make your own” video – that seems like the best bet for most of us.

Thanks for taking the time to research this!

2 years 10 months ago

Quick note for email alerts.

2 years 10 months ago

“For submaximal endurance sports (ie marathon running, long distance cycling, etc), the case is very different . . .”

Hi Eric,

So, I’ve read through your post but am not clearly seeing the case for your statement above.

I’m a cyclist (racer) and long distance runner and not very interested in MMA these days, but I would think that if there is an actual benefit to cyclists and runners, that would translate directly into more endurance during a boxing match, and therefore less fatigue at a time when someone is trying to punch you in the face – a very valuable asset! 40 minutes was the length of the TT used in one experiment. Boxing matches are often that long, correct?

You seem to be saying that these devices may improve lung function, but you also say that this isn’t helpful unless you have COPD. Nor does it help aerobically.

So, how do you see this potentially helping cyclists?

Here are some of the claims Spiro Tiger makes (one of your commentors mentioned them).

2 years 10 months ago

I will be climbing Mt. Kilamanjaro in October of this year. (October 2012) Would wearing this mask on practice hiking tails decrease the chance of me getting altitude sickness when I climb Mt. Kila.

Thanks. I need to know ASAP. I’m trying to get any advantage I can get. Even considering getting Viagara for AMS (already confirmed to help) and I’m a girl ;)

2 years 10 months ago

I see where you are coming from with this article, and I agree that if you base the effectiveness off of the VO2max and Hemoglobin levels than the mask is useless. But it has been stated by several scientists that there are no conclusive arguments/research showing that VO2 max is a valid representation of physical performance. There have been several studies that have seen an increase in physical endurance/performance and no change in VO2 max.

There are several other ways in which hypoxic training may be beneficial but not measureable including Increased myoglobin level, and increased number of enzymes in the blood. It has also been theorized that elevation training increases concentration of skeletal muscle capillaries that would reduce the distance for oxygen diffusion between the blood and tissues. But for me personally one of the main things I notice is my body’s ability to remove lactate and buffer against the build up of lactic acid. Which in turn cause me to work my muscle’s longer and harder.

I agree there is no study showing that High elevation/hypoxic training improves physical performance for everyone. But there are plenty of people, including high level athletes, who have seen significant improvement in their performance from hypoxic training.

2 years 10 months ago

ok man this article is very bad , were you get this imfomation ? is ver bad… the altitude is very good for de training , man please go to studie more about that , you imformation is very bad.

[…] writing about it in the context of ultrarunning froze my brain screen.  I did stumble on a fun critique of the “altitude training device” and the “PowerLung” and a “60 […]

2 years 11 months ago

Thank for the research… BTW I love that video lol

Chris Davis
2 years 11 months ago

Very good article. I’m signin up for more

2 years 11 months ago

Dude you’re the most patient person I know answering all the questions that are in your article again thank you for posting this article for answering all the questions I had! Much mahalo’s

2 years 11 months ago

[…] […]

3 years 3 days ago

Interesting article and thanks for the research. Seems like you all have the info on the oxygen percentages and whatnot, however, with most of the comments including that they now view these masks as useless, perhaps they are overlooking the benefits.

Obviously a mask that restricts breathing does not change oxygen levels in the air, but if you look at certain training evolutions performed for many top sports, we can see how such a device would be beneficial. Indeed many drills are aimed at acheiving the same effect…

-Hypoxic swims for swim teams, (i.e. you can only hold breath a certain number of times per lap/ certain number of strokes, often times decreasing the amount with each set)
-Underwater swims down followed by sprints back.
-PT “Smoke Shows”, i.e. being instructed to do exercise after excersise with zero rest until trainer has you stop.
-And as someone else posted earlier, gasmask runs in the military….not to mention the wide variety of oxygen deprived drills and exercises that military schools such as BUD/s employ.

(Many of which are aimed at forcing you to give the same effort and level of output even when tire and out of breath)

The point I am making here is that yes obviously training with an elevation mask should not substitute normal cardio or act as a “quick fix” in conditioning, like wise weightlifts, sprints..etc where you want your body to have lots of oxygen so as to get the most out of every rep, should also be done free of the mask, but using a mask to work on mental toughness, late in the round fighting, and controlled and increased lung capacity/breathing can hardly be dismissed as something that would not make a difference… Any fighter knows that while training smarter is important, training harder and in ways that induce stress and the feeling of exhaustion are what makes the difference in those last rounds.

If you’re looking to get the same job done for cheap….israeli gas masks on amazon sell for around 20 bucks. Don’t have too much fun..

Fitness only goes so far…you’ve gotta make up the rest..

Wilson Ng
3 years 25 days ago

So in other words you are saying that the altitude training device has no benefit MMA training. However, you haven’t ruled out that it has no benefit to running or cycling?

3 years 1 month ago

Sorry, for a second long post, but here’s an excellent explanation in a comment at Amazon

By Shane Skinman Hanson
First of all, the air we breathe at sea level is approximately 20.9% Oxygen, 78.9% Nitrogen , a combined amount just under 0.97% Argon and C02 with the remainder being small amounts of other gases. As you ascend in altitude the air becomes thinner with the troposphere’s constituents decreasing proportionately ,resulting in a Hypoxic or oxygen deficient air supply.

Hypoxia is a state occurring in humans where there is insufficient oxygen supply to meet demand. Being the wondrous machine it is, the body makes changes and adaptations in order to meet the demand placed upon it starting with increased heart rate, frequency and depth of breathing, vasodilation and increased capillarization to better carry oxygenated blood , pulmonary arterial vasoconstriction directing blood flow to the gas exchange site (the alveoli) , increased VO2max, mitochondria efficiency, power output and energy production plus a signalled increase in natural EPO production in the kidneys.
There are 3 levels of altitude as identified by the International Society for Mountain Medicine with the oxygen content decreasing as ascension in altitude is made. For example, if you were in the town of Eldoret, Kenya, home of world champion long distance runners, you will find yourself at 2400m above sea level with an atmospheric oxygen content of around 14.5%. As you ascend in altitude your blood oxygen saturation (SaO2%) drops with the hypoxic response occurring, however products like these masks will not cause your SaO2% to drop to the levels associated with high altitude training even under the most intense exercise as there is no alteration to the amount of oxygen passing through the mask and into your lungs.
It doesn’t take a medical degree to know that if you’re at sea level, breathing sea level air (20.9% oxygen) through a restrictive device, the air coming through it and available to you is still going to be of 20.9% oxygen content. So how do products like this simulate altitude training as they claim?
Quite simply, they don’t.
Which brings me to the point of what they actually do. Products like these are essentially diaphragm training devices. As they force you to draw deeper breaths you learn to use your diaphragm better whilst also building its strength as it works against the RESISTANCE CREATED BY THE FILTERS. That is all they do. Your oxygen processing will slightly improve with diaphragm training but only because of 1: retraining your breathing muscles by shifting focus from intercostal breathing to diaphragmatic and 2: the larger air volume you are able to take in with greater ease as a result of strengthening the diaphragm and using it in a controlled manner.

3 years 1 month ago

You said,

Takeaway #1 – Training at altitude doesn’t seem to improve performance, especially with respect to the physical demands of MMA
Takeaway #2 – The claims of improved performance using the altitude training device are based on more claims that altitude training improves performance, which are false and false, respectively
Takeaway #3 – Training with the altitude training device may improve lung strength and lung capacity, however, these improvements don’t result in any increases in aerobic or anaerobic fitness (unless your lungs are your limiting factor, which may be the case if you have COPD or some other lung disease)

I believe you are right if you consider “30 min of cycling exercise three times per week. One group trained in normobaric hypoxia at a simulated altitude of 2750 m” (or worse – altitude training device usage) to be a real altitude training. But as a mountain climber I know from a personal experience (not a study, sorry, but such studies very likely were performed) that after prolonged mountain climbs, especially at really high altitude, performance often increases significantly. Again – I don’t have time for a research, but from my own personal experience, it was unbelievable easy to run 50K UROC ultra-marathon after I spent several weeks in Bolivia at altitude of 3500 – 6000 m. The similar effect was just after about a week of climbing at relatively moderate altitude of Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan (WA) – just below 4000 m.
It’s well known that long time runners like to train at altitude, the same do high-level cross-ski sportsmen. I’m sure there is a solid evidence of this being advantageous, not only anecdotal ones.

3 years 1 month ago

Question is: How do you break it to those ‘sold’ athletes in the gym running around with a gas mask and everyone thinks they are so high tech they are better than the average joe?

3 years 1 month ago

hey, wow this is really great! haha I was really thinking of buying one but i was searching for side effects of the mask to make sure. Unfortunately I don’t do MMA ;( I do have interest! (sad for Overeem…despite his cocky mental, he was still a good fighter in my opinion) I play soccer! And I was looking for a way to improve myself even more efficiently than just old “practice makes perfect” style because I don’t have much time in a day to practice. You mentioned that it won’t make you stronger (or actually become weaker, u said the study wasn’t accurate) but it does help strengthen lungs? does that mean it’ll enable me to intake or store more oxygen? then i’d able to be not so tired easily after the same amount of running?

3 years 1 month ago

when you sleep at high altitude, you have to breathe harder/faster in order to get the same amount of oxygen. when you sleep in this mask, you also have to breathe harder/faster in order to get the same amount of oxygen. so, why wouldn’t this mask help you, if you use the live high, train low plan?

why would, if you sleep with the mask, your body just breathe harder and not produce more red blood cells… but if you sleep in high altitude your body doesn’t breathe harder but does produce more red blood cells instead? i don’t really get it

1 year 5 months ago

Eric is right. The reason why people train low and live high is because of increases hematocrit levels in the blood. This is not because of restriction of oxygen but because of a change in partial pressure of oxygen. Oxygen flows into the lung through a gradient. The process is called diffusion. The lesser the gradient, the weaker the driving force is pushing oxygen into the blood stream from the lungs. Even if the airflow is restricted, the partial pressure remains the same so the driving force is still there. You are still getting the same amount of oxygen but your body now has to increase its blood flow and nutrients to your inhalation and exhalation muscles so you can breathe. Now your body does not have enough energy to go out to the rest of the more important muscles that you are training. Train low so you can hit you peak. Live high at ALTITUDE!!! not just an elevation mask to gain more hematocrit.

Jeff Gentile
3 years 3 months ago

This was great and very informative. I train at a kickboxing gym and saw one of the guys with it…training mask that is. I assist in training youth-high school football teams and my first thought was, “wow, what a great tool to simulate the 4th quarter when your body is at its most tired.” I’m very hesitant now and pretty much convinced this wouldn’t work at all. 1, do you think this could help in that scenario and 2, if not…what could?
Thanks and again, nice work.

3 years 4 months ago

The biggest problem is the training mask is in no possible way altitude training. It isn’t doing anything that exercise doesn’t do anyway. Normal healthy people do not breath off of a hypoxic drive, they breathe off of a hypercarbic drive. If you hold your breath and you really want to breathe it is to reduce (blow off) CO2 not to increase O2. If a device restricts the volume of air available, you will simply increase you respiratory rate, and increase your I:E (inspiratory, expiratory ratio) Which may give an effect of increased expiratory pressure, which may actually increase O2 in the blood. The mask can train your breathing and shift focus of training more to respiratory muscles, however you cannot strengthen lungs they are not a muscle. It is my guess that blood O2 and CO2 levels will be no different with or without the mask. What is REALLY disturbing is that The Training mask website actually says that the mask will increase alveolar elasticity…. THAT IS HOGWASH.

3 years 4 months ago

i study kinesiology at the undergrad level. After reading your conclusions, I would have to agree with most of them. You are forgetting one important adaption that would be beneficial to any athlete that breaths air. Increasing the difficulty of breathing requires the inspiratory/expiratory muscles(internal/external intercoastals, diaphragm, etc.) would making the muscles work harder which would cause some kind of adaption resulting in more forceful breathing. I would venture to guess that more forceful breathing would result in a larger tidal volume or greater lung capacity. Greater lung capacity equals more air through gas exchange and more air equals more work.
So that would be one adaption.
If you guys want to increase anaerobic threshold look into bicarbonate loading, that should be right up your alley.

3 years 2 months ago

That is my exact feeling about this product. I have it and use it. I have noticed increased performance at an accelerated rate. I am also noticeably working the inspiratory/expiratory muscles(internal/external intercostals, diaphragm, etc.) and can “feel the burn” even the next day.

And I love the bicarbonate loading. Alkaline is the way to be!

MIke M
3 years 5 months ago

I have watched these forums for a long time and cannot sit here and ignore them anymore and feel the record needs to be set straight on some claims and statements made by these manufactures. There is a need to separate the marketing hype surrounding these products and what is actually reality. I will keep it really simple. I am not going to say they are good or bad (every product has a place) but if one has an understanding of biology, physiology and importantly cardio vascular function then you would have a good understanding of hypoxic physiology and if one also has an understanding of medical engineering and machinery, you would know that these products, DO NOT MIMIC THE PHYSIOLOGOCIAL EFFECTS AND SUBSEQUESTLY EVOKE THE SAME RESPONCES AS INTERMITTENT HYPOXIC TRAINING FOR EXAMPLE DOES. IT’S IMPOSSIBLE. (also not all forms of altitude training are the same. Really important to note this fact) I’m sorry to disappoint you all but they don’t. As a LUNG training device yes, as you are restricting AIR FLOW, you are NOT reducing the oxygen percentage in inspired air i.e. at sea level the content we breathe is roughly 20% oxygen (The air we inhale is roughly 78% by volume nitrogen, 21% oxygen, 0.96% argon and 0.04% carbon dioxide, helium, water, and other gases) when doing NIHT for example the oxygen content that one can breathe can be as little as 6-8% for example with de-saturation levels reached in the 60’s AND 50’s which has a huge effect on acid base changes in the body for example, i.e. lactic acid buffering (threshold) meaning greater improvements in speed, power and endurance and recovery done using short cyclic bursts done at total rest, (passive) therefore causing the necessary cardiovascular and respiratory responses. These devices don’t do this. I have used them both, o2 and the mask. If one cannot afford Powerbreathe or Spiro Tiger then these are good alternatives, (if one cannot afford these either, the same can be achieved with breathing through straws of different thicknesses and quantities for example, many different ways you can restrict air flow, use a dive snorkel and you can tape the end and poke different hole sizes in it) but remember, they DO NOT MIMIC ACUAL HYPOXIC TRAINING NO MATTER WHAT ANY ONE SAYS. As the saying goes, DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE and common sense prevails

3 years 5 months ago

Well I use a homade version of the mask. The biggest positive aspect for me is the mental. I am a boxer. I trainned with the mask for three weeks and had been recently trainning for months. After my first session of 300 burpees that a sqaut and a pushup. I did sets of 25 without the mask and it was a blast regular. Then I did 25 with the mask. I don’t know what the claims are if they are not scientific, but as a fighter it made me fatigue to the point of fight or flight , thats what i needed. I like the idea of the mask it pushes me to fight harder increasing my fighting spirit and mental toughness to complete my assignment. Do 3 sets of pushups without the mask for a week than do one week with the mask, if you pay attention you will notice the difference. One Love- youtube/ adrenalinefichtclub1.

3 years 5 months ago

spell check …homemade, fightclub lol.

3 years 5 months ago

ok i understand that elevation masks dont work but what about altitude in general like fighters moving to higher altitudes

3 years 6 months ago

Great Article.

I thought it was going to be some selling line for the mask. Well done for honest and informative research.

Its an interesting paradox that this equipment may actually reduce long term work capacity as you simply cant train as hard wearing it.

Again great article.

3 years 6 months ago

You touched on the Live High, Train Low method in the Q/A, but not explicitly in the main article. That’s worth more attention.

3 years 6 months ago

Agreed. To me this seems most likely to be beneficial, as that the general lack of oxygen in the air as you go about your life would yield a higher red blood cell count, but training in an oxygen rich environment would still allow you to push yourself to the max in training

3 years 6 months ago

To be sucessful at altitude training you need to live at altitude and train at altitude. To train at altitude to get full benifit you need to suppliment o2 to be able to train hard enough without getting tired. thats how you get your body to adapt. The mask strengtens your breathing so less effort is needed to breath. In hard efforts your body will adapt so training hard in the mask is a benifit same stress on body in less time…Different sports require different tools it will work for some but maybe not others.

3 years 6 months ago

dude i gotta get me one of those towels!

3 years 6 months ago

awesome review, so we at least have something that can encourage stronger lungs, just not for what theyre selling it for… and at the price that theyre asking. good to know.

3 years 7 months ago

Hey, I have asthma so i was wondering if i should get the mask anyway to help improve lung capacity or something like that.
Awesome review by the way, thanks!

3 years 7 months ago

Thanks for Research Eric. I agree that restrctive breathing mediums have limited applications.
As a runner BREATHING FREELY is vital for tempo & technique. Which ultimately leads to faster times.
REAL ALTITUDE training is accomplished in gradual phases in order for the body to adjust. This Mask is surely NOT the same. A gimick, perhaps. But to be fair, I may just purchase one to render terminal judgement.
5K Racer
traditional paddleboard racer

Anthony Marquez
3 years 9 months ago


Do you think this will help with firefighter training? Getting use to working with a mask?

3 years 8 months ago

im in the military , and we constantly do gas mask runs and workouts with our issued masks . there has to be some benefit to training with it . your review makes sense , but ive seen guys that are failing PT standards and begin doing regular gas mask runs , and improve significantly

2 years 3 months ago

I’m going to take a wild guess that most people who are failing there PT turn around and improve no matter what method they use. I don’t know if your correlation is exactly scientific. I think it might be more of a motivation to not lose their career.

3 years 9 months ago

Great info. I have my fighters train at times with a face mask headgear on because it is difficult to breath in. The reasoning behind this is that they will focus on breathing and not panic when in spots that are hard to breath in, or for overall breathing correctly during a match or bout.

3 years 9 months ago

i was about to buy the mask, but your review was overwhelmingly convincing. thank you for doing the research and sharing your conclusions.

3 years 7 months ago

it does work iv used it for a while

3 years 10 months ago
3 years 10 months ago

That makes perfect sense when the event is running, where aerobic conditioning is king. But it would be much less relevant to MMA or grappling where performance revolves around all three energy sytems and particularly the anaerobic-lactic system. So the fifteen percent figure doesn’t really apply at all to the sports in this discussion.
However, this kind of training might help you recover faster on your feet by developing your aerobic system, this is obviously an advantage, but that would be an extra edge to look for if you’re already totally solid on your conditioning. I think the statement Eric is making about lung training is basically that most fighters have so far to go with their conditioning programs in the first place that putting focus on little things like this is barking up the wrong tree.
In this thread, though, we haven’t addressed the concept of adding in breath restriction in addition to peak performance “cardio” (sorry, Eric, I don’t know what else to call it…), which I am very curious about. The main question was if doing your primary training with breath restriction would increase results, and the answer is that it actually hurts your results because it hurts performance in training.
But here’s my thinking – when your muscles are still recovering between hard endurance circuits, and you are just doing light jogging and whatnot to stay loose and recover faster, wouldn’t adding in breath restriction (such as breathing very slowly counting your footsteps while jogging) allow for more development of the lactic system without adding additional stress on your muscles and joints? If restricting oxygen flow to muscles with an isometric hold engages the lactic system then this would make sense. It’s pretty easy to get that feeling while jogging by restricting your breathing.
Personally, I do both the breath restriction between workouts and the breathing-muscle conditioning, but I see it as “something extra”. What really makes the big difference in how I feel fighting is those hard endurance circuits.

Joe Berger
1 year 2 months ago

I agree that if you’re just going to be jogging lightly regardless, you might as well get the added benefits from the mask.

3 years 7 months ago

if you’re a competive runner BREATHING is vital. Technique and tempo cannot be hindered with breathing restrictions.

3 years 10 months ago

In this study lack of oxygen increases hypertrophy supposedly

Off-topic, but dinosaurs were huge! It’s weird cause scientists believe it was a oxygen-rich atmosphere that made for their supergrowth, but then again there’s others that say it was a carbon-dioxide rich atmosphere that made plants abundant for animals to eat good and get huge… what kind of conditions are Samoans living in that causes them to grow huge? hmm…

Gary Hare
3 years 10 months ago

I hear what you’re saying Eric, and your site gives the best advice with none of the Im-a-celebrity-look-at-me stuff. But I bought the mask because I know how hard it is training in an NBC respirator. And I know how easy it feels (for a while at least) when you take it off. Maybe it is a mental thing – but I think using it say every third day – does have benefits. Love the site though.

3 years 10 months ago

hey eric i didnt know where to put this question so ill put it here. ok is there any way i could buy your advanced mma power program? because i went to and your program wasnt there.

3 years 10 months ago

P.S. The infomercial killed me!!! LMAO

3 years 10 months ago

Ok Eric now lets take it to the other end. The muscle cant work as hard because there is not enough O2 to supply them. If we were to train with O2 would we see better results since the muscle will now have to work as hard as it can?

Maybe hit an O2 tank between every excercise and feed those muscles! Whats your take on that?

3 years 5 months ago


This answer is anecdotal and my opinion only, so put whatever value on it you want.

I was actually interested in O2 therapy for both training and just generally feeling better, so I asked my doctor about it. He did an oxygen test on me and it came back at 99% capacity because I am a healthy person rather than someone with an oxygen deficiency (which is what O2 therapy is generally used for). The doctor then stated that the red blood cells will not carry anything over 100% capacity. Because of this, he stated breathing a higher oxygen environment would not improve general health but could actually be toxic. (See here for more information about oxygen toxicity:

If you have ever sat at an oxygen bar and felt better afterwards this seems counter-intuitive (which is why I asked about it to begin with), but I think it is a question of a little is good but a lot actually has a negative effect… sort of like drinking a glass of wine a day is good for your health but getting drunk every night will destroy it. I don’t know if small amounts of additional oxygen during training will allow for a small benefit in added workload capacity (sort of like an energy drink does), but that seems like the only possible benefit rather than oxygenation of the muscle tissue for repair (unless you actually have a medical condition) and could actually cause damage.

3 years 10 months ago

That’s a great question and is probably worth another blog post. :)

3 years 10 months ago

Eric thts epic..

3 years 10 months ago

Great Article Eric, you did your homework as well as mine.

The information was spot on plus your infomercial was very funny, thank you for the information.

By the way why does that mask need to cover the eyes, they don’t breath? ;0)

3 years 10 months ago

Great Job Eric.

3 years 10 months ago

Eric Wong,

thank you for sharing this research on the training mask.

3 years 10 months ago

I ll get three sets of those beach towels please