By now you have no doubt seen bros running around, lifting weights, or even riding around at sea level or moderate elevations with altitude training masks. The idea is to simulate the hypoxic condition of exercising at altitude (about 5,000 feet above sea level and higher). With some products, there’s also a component of ‘resisted breathing’, where you have to physically work harder to inhale and exhale. Cyclists, triathletes, and runners want to know if a altitude mask will make them faster, so let’s take a look at the science.
How an Altitude Training Mask Functions
Many of the masks available on the market simply restrict your breathing so you can’t pull air into your lungs as fast as normal. When you exercise with one you basically get out of breath sooner, at a lower exercise intensity level, than normal. You’ll also accumulate more CO2 in your blood. But the composition of the air you’re breathing is the exact same as it was without the mask. You’re only getting less oxygen because you’re getting less air.