The benefits of high altitude training have been known for a long time, and it is common for individual sportsmen and women, as well as entire teams, to go to mountain areas to make specific preparations with which to acquire the lost form point, or to look for a form peak in order to face a specific competition. This is achieved thanks to the fact that these environments facilitate the acceleration of the metabolism and greater production of hematocrit, which makes more oxygen reach the muscles.
Amateur athletes who live at low altitude cannot afford to spend several weeks training at height or buy a hypobaric chamber to simulate for longer mountain conditions that improve the performance of the athlete. For them, the altitude training mask has been created, also known as hypoxia mask or training mask which, although it does not offer the same result, is beneficial for the athlete who trains with it.
What a training mask looks like and how it works
The latest model of height training mask designed to cover the mouth and nose so that every breath that is taken passes through it. The objective is to reduce the amount of oxygen that is inhaled, regulating it according to the altitude that is intended to simulate.
The material with which it has been designed is neoprene, which helps it adjust perfectly to the athlete’s head, as well as absorbing sweat and allowing it to be washed without any problem, and its subjection is very simple, as it is tied with velcro at the back of the head in two different points. To fit the mouth and nose visually resembles the masks of operating rooms, but wide rubber and also soft, so as not to disturb while doing sport, and manages to prevent oxygen from entering other than the three valves it incorporates, and prevent the entry of dust, water, or sand.
The functioning of the training mask is based on the valves that are placed in it, and which are interchangeable (when buying the hypoxia mask comes with three sets of valves), to simulate different heights so that the exercise is more similar to that performed at altitude. The valves found on the market simulate from 910 metres to 5,500 metres, to which must be added the altitude at which the exercise is performed; that is, if you train at 500 metres above sea level and use the one that simulates the lowest altitude, it would be equivalent to training at 1,410 metres (500m + 910m).
For whom is the altitude training mask indicated?
The series of benefits that, in principle, offers, makes the training mask very useful for all types of athletes – not necessarily elite or immersed in competitions – who seek to improve their fitness, taking it to a higher level. Thus, it completes aerobic training, and helps to improve in terms of endurance, power and speed to athletes as varied as runners, practitioners of martial arts or boxing, triathletes or simply those who want to squeeze their fitness sessions in the gym.
On the other hand, those people who are going to compete in height, but do not live or have within their reach places with sufficient altitude to train, will find in this mask a help of vital importance, which will make them come better prepared for the different competitions.