Before we jump into what training mask is suitable for you, let’s go through some of the benefits of high altitude training and why you would benefit from getting an altitude mask.
As you probably guessed, altitude training maximizes oxygen use since the body is trying to adapt to the decrease in airflow stimulated by the mask. For years, this method has been used by rowers who need to adapt to the scarcity of oxygen in humid waters. If you’re a martial artist or an endurance athlete, you know by now that the last thing you want is to gas out in the competition.
Best Training Mask
Training masks have been growing in popularity lately, and that’s because not only do they look intriguing, but they offer the possibility to train in a simulated environment that allows your body to strengthen the diaphragm muscles. Stronger breathing muscles mean better endurance and overall improved athletic performance.
All criteria in consideration here are our top 3 picks. Keep in mind it’s not which one is the best, its which one is the best for you:
- Best Quality and Design – TrainingMask 3.0 – This one is great for pro athletes; you also don’t have to sacrifice style; aesthetics meets functionality in this one. 7.5/10
- Best for High-Intensity Training – Viking Strength – The mask’s weight and the mask’s quality makes it great for efficient and high-intensity training. 8/10
- Most Ergonomic – Coher Mask – the overall design and simplicity make it easy to use. For first-time buyers, this is the right choice. 7/10
This one makes the top of our list because TrainingMask has been an innovator in the field of respiratory conditioning. It has been used by athletes like NFL Linebacker Brandon Copeland and American Olympic Track Runner Norris Fredrick.
You do not have to be a pro athlete to reap the benefits of hypoxic training. This one is for everyone.
Training Mask 3.0 has a very customizable design, which allows you to train not only for performance but also to look good. The mask is designed to meet all types of activities, whether for strength training or sports conditioning (you can use it for your MMA solo drills or skill-specific cardio). It’s also sweat-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about turning it up a notch in training. This mask offers overall the durability and comfort needed to sustain high-level training.
- Customizable design
- Comfortable Wear
- Multi-leveled respiratory resistance
- 3-year warranty
- Sizes not always accurate
- Not recommend for BJJ rolls.
This Norwegian based company releases sports equipment for nearly all activities, from weight belts to fat grips, resistance bands, you name it. As you guessed, the weather in Scandinavian countries is particularly harsh with mountains, snow, and rain, so it comes as no surprise that they’d figure out a way for their athletes to take it a step further, training with masks at high altitude. Talk about cold-blooded!
The 24 levels of resistance are suitable for everyone: you’ll be able to have levels that go from 2000 feet up to 18 000 feet. This mask has improved some of its old features, like the valves’ diameters, which prevent you from inhaling back carbon dioxide while training.
After trying their newest model with our athletes, we certainly appreciated how easy it was to regulate the intensity: the two symmetric knobs on the mask’s front help easily restrict precisely how much air the mask lets in.
- 16 levels of resistance
- Lightweight (79 grams)
- Comfortable fit
- Comes with a protective pouch
- It takes some time for your body to adapt to the mask.
- Could be a hassle to wash
Sparthos is a German-based company that has been recently aiming to improve its sports products. Their products are designed not only for fitness enthusiasts and pro athletes but also for therapists. The anatomical fit and anti-slip design make for comfortable usage. It’s equipped with 16 valves ranging from 2000 ft up to 18000 ft altitude simulation. The design is a bit of an issue with this one.
- Offers three sizes
- Better resistance (restricted inhale and exhale)
- Runs a bit large
- Not preferable for small faces
- Could be annoying for eyesight if not fitting
Friorange Hypoxic mask comes with adjustable non-slip straps. It’s made from non-toxic silicone, so no more skin irritations or allergic reactions with this training mask. You can also change the resistance levels without taking it off. It has three levels of airflow restriction.
We’ve noticed how easy it was to maintain and clean when used for our MMA conditioning sessions. It also comes with adjustable straps so that they fit around the head perfectly. So how does this mask do compared to the others? It’s OK, for its price, you get the basics that you’d expect in a training mask, good airflow resistance, and fits comfortably.
- Non-toxic silicone
- Easily changeable resistance
- Washable sleeve
- Affordable price
- Great customer service
- Only three levels of airflow
The Fitgame Mask is durable and is of good quality, and doesn’t tear easily. There are, of course, cheaper options, but for the price offered, you get what you pay for: a good quality hypoxic training mask.
Both sides of the mask have settings on them for the resistance levels. It checks all the boxes: quality mask, 24 levels of resistance, good size fit, but you could find alternatives with the same features at a slightly lower price. The reason we put it on our list is that we were impressed with the quality.
- 24 intensity levels
- Good fit
- Excellent quality rubber
- The price might be too high for some.
Veoxline training mask comes with all the benefits of simulated high altitude training and the multiple resistance levels. No need to stop and adjust the mask during exercise since it’s designed to fit your face and let you focus on your workout without worrying about sweat or rain. The only downside is that it is not heat friendly, so if you like working out under the blazing sun in a heated afternoon, this mask is probably not a good fit. It is suitable for all athletes, whether you’re a cyclist, runner, or a combat athlete.
- 16 levels of resistance
- Comes with a pouch bag
- Not suitable for hot weather
- Not recommended for weight training
- Straps not tight enough
The NextGen Mask comes with carbon filters and a cleaning spray, which is a bonus compared to the other training masks on the market. It will also protect you from dust and humidity when working out in a dusty gym. The Next Gen Training mask comes with replaceable filters and a protective pouch. The extra filters provided are a step up compared to the other masks because it protects form dusty environments that would otherwise be irritating during training. NextGen has the best packaging and mask accessories that make altitude training a more enjoyable experience.
- 24 levels of airflow resistance
- Includes a case, cleaning spray, and extra fillers
- Slightly expensive
This one might not be as fancy as the other ones. But if it’s your first time buying an altitude mask and you want something affordable, this one is a good option. The mesh dust cover shell and valves are easy to wash. If you’re looking for something simple and not too flashy like the previous masks, which make it hard to train unnoticed, this hypoxic mask offers just that.
- Reusable and washable
- Five-layer filters that can remove dust
- Simple and affordable
- Not so many options and levels
The FDBRO Training Mask is made of food-grade silicone gel, which makes it easier to use. This one has different sizes, which is advantageous compared to the other one-size-fits-all masks since you get a more customized mask. It comes with six resistance levels, which unfortunately makes it one step behind the different masks that offer up to 24 levels of resistance. The mask also has some remarkable features like the straps’ sturdiness, which keep the mask in its place and doesn’t allow it to move while training.
- Offers different sizes
- Made of high-quality silicone
- Only six levels of resistance
Criteria for the Best Elevation Training Mask
Altitude Masks could be a handy tool when you want to improve your breathing muscles and improve your cardiovascular system. The trick is to know what to look for in a mask because not all masks are created equal. Here are some of the criteria used to identify and choose a mask based on your needs.
- Elevation levels would be better if you determine the intensity levels you’re looking for. Depending on what activity you choose to engage in, you would want to set a specific goal; that way, you can find the appropriate mask to choose. It is recommended that altitude masks be used only for cardio. If you’re going to buy one of those masks, make sure it matches your level of fitness. Remember, the adaptations will take some time before they surface; you’ve got to give your body the time it needs to adapt.
- Fit – The fit should be comfortable enough to allow you to see clearly. The last thing you want is to have the mask trouble your eyesight while training, especially during high-intensity exercise. You also don’t want the altitude mask to be too heavy for training; remember, you’re training your cardiovascular system, not neck endurance.
- Sweat – Sweat is inevitable if you’re training for high-intensity cardio, so it is best to make sure that the masks are comfortable enough and don’t slip or detach from sweat. This usually depends on the quality of the mask itself.
- Price: Quality – before rushing to buy a mask, make sure you’re informed on the quality and be on the lookout for scams. That being said, a good training mask should not break the bank.
The effects of hypoxic training on your body
According to Professor Andreas Neib, head of the sports medicine department of the University of Tübingen, Germany: Staying at an altitude of more than 1,500 meters leads to a series of adaptation processes in the organism, which have performance-related importance, especially in endurance exercise. He later explains the benefits of altitude training in detail, specifically with the increased release of erythropoietin, a hormone produced by the kidneys that play a role in the production of red blood cells. RBC carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body, so better oxygen delivery to the working muscles and lungs. He also mentions that one of the benefits of high altitude training is improving mitochondrial functions of muscles and stimulation of growth hormones in the body.
When training at high altitudes or with a simulated high altitude mask, there’s an increase in the RCT (Respiratory Compensation Threshold), which is the point at which the body is fatigued. Using a training mask allows the body to incrementally increase RCT, enabling you to exert more effort for more extended periods. This generally occurs by slowly restricting airflow; it forces your body to produce more hemoglobin (the molecule responsible for oxygen transport).
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some of the benefits of wearing a training mask?
Sometimes you’ll be short on time, you only have time for a quick workout, but you don’t want to sacrifice the quality of the training: the mask helps increase the intensity allowing you to train better in less time. By no means is a mask the be all end all product for fitness, but when we’re talking about having the edge over everybody else, this tool can be beneficial with the right training and proper usage.
Will using a training mask help with weight loss?
Altitude masks are just a tool; nutrition is always the number one key factor in losing weight: calorie deficit is the standard. That being said, altitude masks can potentially help your burn a few extra calories by challenging your respiratory system.
How does your body respond to higher altitudes?
In a nutshell, at high altitudes, the amount of oxygen available is low, which forces your body to make red blood cells more efficient at using oxygen. That being said, the mask does not reduce the amount of oxygen in the air; all it does is reduce airflow, forcing your diaphragm to breathe deeper, hence improving your cardiovascular system.
What is the right amount of resistance levels for me?
It’s better to find a mask that provides various breathing levels if you’re just starting with masks because it will give different options to try out. Also, some days you probably would want to take it easy, let’s say for recovery, so your mask could be useful for recovery as well. The bottom line is, there’s no straight answer. You just need to try it out and see what works best.
Do I have to stick to the weight limit?
The masks are designed to fit people within the specified weight range; any deviation from the mask instructions could cause injury.
How effective are altitude masks?
The masks do help you, especially with the right Conditioning program because it works your diaphragm muscles. The stronger these muscles get, the faster you’ll be able to inhale/exhale and the less tired you will get when you’re competing/pushing the limit.
Are altitude masks safe?
They are safe, providing you don’t have any underlying health issues like asthma or heart issues. In all cases, it’s always advised to seek a medical professional’s clearance before using the mask.
What size should I get?
You should get the most appropriate size for your weight height if the masks are offered in multiple sizes. Some masks have a one-size-fits-all model.
- McKenzie D. C. (2012). Respiratory physiology: adaptations to high-level exercise. British journal of sports medicine, 46(6), 381–384. https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2011-090824
- Buchheit, M., Hammond, K., Bourdon, P. C., Simpson, B. M., Garvican-Lewis, L. A., Schmidt, W. F., Gore, C. J., & Aughey, R. J. (2015). Relative Match Intensities at High Altitude in Highly-Trained Young Soccer Players (ISA3600). Journal of sports science & medicine, 14(1), 98–102.
- Porcari, J. P., Probst, L., Forrester, K., Doberstein, S., Foster, C., Cress, M. L., & Schmidt, K. (2016). Effect of Wearing the Elevation Training Mask on Aerobic Capacity, Lung Function, and Hematological Variables. Journal of sports science & medicine, 15(2), 379–386.
- Effects of altitude training in athletes • Rowperfect UK. (2020). Retrieved from https://www.rowperfect.co.uk/effects-of-altitude-training-on-athletes/