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Old 09-14-2013, 07:06 AM   #11
Todd R Miller
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Re: Elevation training masks

Seems like more of a diaphragm training device than high altitude simulation. By restricting air flow, your diaphragm has to work harder to fill the lungs. There very well may be performance improvement from this type of training.

As others have mentioned, this device does nothing to change the oxygen content of the air you are breathing.
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Old 09-14-2013, 03:45 PM   #12
Kiel Stuart
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Re: Elevation training masks

Awesome response Steven, always amazed at the quality of discussion on here.

So sort of moving away from the masks and towards altitude training, there are advantages and disadvantages with regards to performance and recovery.

I wonder then if breath hold training incorporated into an aerobic program would be more suitable than a live high train low routine?

Rather than a constant low oxygen environment it's more like a high intensity, low frequency low oxygen environment in that your starving your body of oxygen almost completely for short periods of time. Basically altitude "intervals".

I wonder if this would compensate, to some extent, for the recovery disadvantage of a live high train low routine? Static breath hold training is really just laying face down in a pool so it's about a low impact as you can get, and as it's only for much shorter periods of oxygen deprivation the time your recovering muscles will be deprived of oxygen is reduced considerably, although it is more intense in that shorter time period.

It'd be easy to assume the relationship is linear and it would be exactly the same, or relative, but generally speaking the Human body isn't linear and simple in my experience, and it would probably vary from individual to individual.
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Old 09-14-2013, 05:06 PM   #13
Steven Wingo
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Re: Elevation training masks

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Originally Posted by Kiel Stuart View Post
Awesome response Steven, always amazed at the quality of discussion on here.

So sort of moving away from the masks and towards altitude training, there are advantages and disadvantages with regards to performance and recovery.

I wonder then if breath hold training incorporated into an aerobic program would be more suitable than a live high train low routine?

Rather than a constant low oxygen environment it's more like a high intensity, low frequency low oxygen environment in that your starving your body of oxygen almost completely for short periods of time. Basically altitude "intervals".

I wonder if this would compensate, to some extent, for the recovery disadvantage of a live high train low routine? Static breath hold training is really just laying face down in a pool so it's about a low impact as you can get, and as it's only for much shorter periods of oxygen deprivation the time your recovering muscles will be deprived of oxygen is reduced considerably, although it is more intense in that shorter time period.

It'd be easy to assume the relationship is linear and it would be exactly the same, or relative, but generally speaking the Human body isn't linear and simple in my experience, and it would probably vary from individual to individual.
Our lung volume does in fact increase with cardio training, especially long endurance efforts and very high intensity efforts. (If you want to feel sore lungs go out and do a few 4 hour bike ride--you will feel the fatigue and expansion in your lungs.) There are also yoga poses which focus on holding deep breaths. Back when I was an avid runner I had bought a little breathing thing that restricted air flow and you would do sets of breaths with it for this exact reason. I do think there is some benefit to it. The bottom line is that the more air you can get in your lungs in one breath, the more oxygen which will be available to be transferred to your blood.

Of course cardio fitness is very complicated. Lung volume is of importance, but there are numerous other factors: hematrocrit, number and size of capillaries, how much capillaries and vessels will dilate (vasodilation) when you begin exercise, and how efficient your muscles use the oxygen transported. Cardio training causes changes in all the areas. Living at altitude basically just increases red blood cells and hematocrit. Those "restricted breathing" devices probably just help with muscles involved in breathing and maybe lung volume. So they hit on some important characteristics even though manufacturer's calling them "altitude training" devices is misleading.
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Old 09-15-2013, 09:52 AM   #14
Donald Lee
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Re: Elevation training masks

Lung volume adaptations have very little to do with endurance improvements. It's more about cardiac adaptations.
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Old 09-15-2013, 10:05 AM   #15
Jeremy Schultz
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Re: Elevation training masks

So, basically, this discussion again comes down to "What are you training for?" - I know that firefighters use these masks to simulate going up flights of stairs and stuff with their respirators on. In that case, the restriction of air may be useful, but trying to increase your PCV with a mask is just snake oil.
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Old 09-15-2013, 06:40 PM   #16
Dakota Base
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Re: Elevation training masks

I'll share my experiences with different masks compared to my elevation training experience, as well as some of my 'testing' done with a pulse oximeter...

First off, what I feel at elevation is this: easy to breathe, but always out of breath, and easy to make lightheaded. Naturally, this is because there's lower concentration of oxygen at higher altitude. When you train at elevation, that forces you to REALLY increase your respiration rate and drives up your heart rate over low elevation marks to maintain a suitable blood oxygen concentration.

The Elevation Training Mask 1.0, or any other full face 'gas mask' type (I used to use a mask from my F&R days) worked better than the new Training Mask 2.0 for simulating depleted oxygen environments. The difference being the volume of the mask.

Even the ETM 2.0 does slightly deplete the oxygen content you take in. The volume of the mask inside gets filled by your exhale, so you end up rebreathing that volume of air, meaning you get less fresh air, and less Oxygen. The full face designs have a higher ratio of 'rebreather volume' vs fresh air brought in, but there's SOME depletion.

BUT, that's a constant volume. Effectively, no matter what snap on cover you put on, that ratio of rebreathed CO2 vs fresh air is constant. The covers just effect how hard you have to work to breathe. It DOES reduce the oxygen content you breathe in, however, by effectively stockpiling a fixed volume of exhaled CO2 inside the mask.

As others have mentioned, what you feel the most is that it is significantly harder to breathe with the ETM 2.0. A sore diaphragm will surprise you, because it rarely happens in general, but it WILL with an ETM 2.0. I had a lot more runs where I felt pain under my ribcage and at the back of my shoulder from breathing hard than I normally would expect.

THE DIFFERENCE IN MY EXPERIENCE:

In a full face style mask, I feel more lightheaded, and less difficulty breathing. It doesn't restrict the movement of air as much, and holds a higher CO2 rebreather volume ratio, so you're in a low O2 environment, and don't have trouble breathing. Even without breathing hard, you CAN get lightheaded. The downside is that if you are boxing in a full face, it gets dislodged a lot more than a partial face mask, it makes your entire head hot as heck, and it makes it impossible to wipe away sweat.

In the ETM 2.0, you feel the breathing restriction a lot more, and you still get lightheaded, but it seems to "make sense" more because you are breathing harder too.

BUT HERE'S THE KICKER:

I did a test of different masks using a 1 mile run as the metric. I ran one mile in an ETM 2.0, one in my old full face mask, and one without anything as a control. I used my HR during the 'control' run as a standard for the other two, then used respiration rate, blood oxygen saturation, and pace as measurement metrics. The idea was that I would keep my heart rate the same, see how my breathing changed relative to my heartrate (resp rate), how much oxygen I was taking in (blood ox saturation), and how hard I was able to work (pace). The ETM 2.0 was the slowest pace to stay under the heartrate target, and had the highest respiration rate, and my blood oxygen at the half mile and 1mile mark WAS lower than the control, open face run. The full face Fireman's mask was the lowest blood oxygen, but I was able to run a bit faster pace without exceeding my target HR. My respiration rate was slightly less than the ETM 2.0, but both were considerably faster than the control run.

GRANTED, this was a test of only ONE workout, by ONE athlete, with ONE test for each scenario, that spanned 10days to finish.

So ultimately, yes, the ETM 2.0 DOES restrict your ability to take in oxygen, and yes, it does make your cardiovascular system work harder to do the same physical work. Is it the same thing as elevation training? No. Is it beneficial? Yes. For a boxer, the benefit of a partial face mask is huge in terms of visibility and its ability to stay in place (or not get knocked OUT of place). For a runner or crossfitter, those benefits are less important.

To me, the biggest lie they are telling is that the different snap covers actually make a significant difference. Slight, sure, as it DOES make your CO2 content of your exhaled breath higher, but the difference in my blood ox with NO covers, and the most restricted cover.

As a person that travels a lot and has an opportunity to run and workout at different elevations frequently, I'm sold that the masks do help improve my performance at elevation.

The BEST training I'd recommend with one, however, is spending as much time throughout a day wearing one as possible. The more prolonged exposure you can have to low Oxygen environments, the better (same idea as live high, train low). I wear mine sitting at the computer, watching TV, etc etc. In a full face, it can make you lightheaded just sitting around, because you're not taking in very deep breaths and your rebreather ratio is high. In the ETM2.0, it's hard enough to breath that you sort of "forget to breath", so even though it's a different function, it still gets you used to operating on a lower blood oxygen saturation.
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Old 09-15-2013, 09:30 PM   #17
Blaise Davis
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Re: Elevation training masks

thought about this over the weekend and although the increased red blood cell production wouldn't last or may not be enough of an effect, I think the collateral circulation created from this big deficit while working out would make a difference...even though I don't use a mask i am really positive about it still making somewhat of a difference but by how much who knows
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Old 09-16-2013, 05:10 PM   #18
Kiel Stuart
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Re: Elevation training masks

Agree, anything that involves any sort of oxygen deprivation is going to have one same affect of increased red blood cell concentration. To what degree and to what consequence are the things that I think will vary depending on the exercise.
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Old 12-24-2013, 08:52 PM   #19
Niles Vaivars
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Re: Elevation training masks

I'm a Cyclist and am nowhere near high altitude and am not capable of moving currently. It would be great to know if one of these masks can actually increase red blood cell count.
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Old 12-26-2013, 06:47 PM   #20
Pearse Shields
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Re: Elevation training masks

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Originally Posted by Niles Vaivars View Post
I'm a Cyclist and am nowhere near high altitude and am not capable of moving currently. It would be great to know if one of these masks can actually increase red blood cell count.
They don't. It doesn't stimulate the same adaptations that high-altitude training does.
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