In the same way that you train the muscles in your arms, legs, and torso to become stronger and more efficient during exercise, it is also highly beneficial to train your respiratory muscles. Using a training mask is not the same as training with a normal surgical face mask. Training masks, also known as altitude masks, are specifically designed to simulate high altitude conditions to stress the body during exercise. In addition to covering your nose and mouth, the masks feature adjustable valves on the front to restrict the amount of oxygen received. If it’s the first time you’re buying a training mask, you may not know what important features to consider. So, to make sure you get all the training benefits you’re hoping for, this article will list all features of the top-notch training masks. Let's start by hooking you up with the best training marks in 2021 on the market!
16 Airflow settings that can be adjusted without taking your mask off
Restricts both the inhaling and exhaling, allow for powerful exhalation as well as deep in-breathes
It’s perfect for simulating altitude training and breathing exercises
Sparthos training masks simulate high altitudes for gym training, running, endurance sport, and HIIT workouts. The slip-resistant strap keeps the mask securely in place whether you are jumping or sprinting. Wearing something over your face is never comfortable, and that is why special attention has been paid to the design of this mask to fit your face with ease. With 16 breathing levels, you can gradually adjust the intensity of your workload and breathing capacity without feeling that you are working too hard or not hard enough. Work at your own pace to adjust each level for a sense of personalized training whether you are at the peak of your fitness or bouncing back from an injury.
Six air resistance caps mimic oxygen levels from 3000ft to 18000ft
The silicone mask with neoprene sleeve is designed with 3 interchangeable valves for oxygen control
It comes with a 3-year warranty
It’s available in three sizes; small, medium, and large
Trainingmask has designed a silicone mask with 6 intensity levels for altitude training or respiratory conditioning. The multi-level oxygen resistance function decreases airflow with the use of three interchangeable valves. A neoprene sleeve gives the mask a snug yet comfortable fit around your head, keeping it perfectly in place as you move around. The elevation training mask is available in 3 sizes: small, medium, and large.
The mask has 6 different airflow settings that can be adjusted without removing the mask
Your purchase includes two replacement filters, a carry case, and a user manual
Available in 6 different color styles and 3 sizes
Pinkish and girlish patterns are available as well
This well-priced training mask comes with a stylish protective storage case which is handy for taking to the gym or keeping separate from all the other items in your kit bag. The airflow settings are adjustable with a quick and easy click. This allows you to enjoy uninterrupted workouts without having to take the mask off to change the intensity. The mask is made from non-slip silicone ensuring it stays in place over your nose, as well as a polyester-lycra band for a comfortable and secure fit with good elasticity to avoid pressure points.
Power Spark training masks have 16 different airflow settings allowing you to adjust your intensity gradually
Your purchase includes 8 carbon active filters and a protective carry case
One-size-fits-all with an adjustable Velcro strap
It’s available in two finishes/colors
Power Spark training masks are great for your own training workouts or as a gift. The mask offers 16 breathing resistance levels and is made from medical-grade silicone. The headband is size-adjustable with a Velcro strap and features a reflective design making it perfect for runners and outdoors sportsmen and women. In addition, the sleeve is reinforced with double stitching for durability. Power Spark offers a satisfaction guarantee on the product.
Designed with high-quality nylon and medical grade silicone
The air filtration systems allow you to breathe in cleaner, dust-free oxygen
The elastic straps are super sturdy and flexible
In addition to its good price, this mask features a carbon-activated filtration system that filters air which is ideal if you are training on dusty trails. With 16 adjustable breathing levels, the mask allows you to gradually progress the intensity at your own pace. The mask and headband construction are durable, made with high-quality nylon and medical-grade silicone. Headband elasticity provides a snug, yet comfortable fit to keep the mask in place at all times.
The purchase includes two extra valves, a black protective carry case, and a sports bracelet
24 Breathing resistance levels for high altitude simulation
The universal size is Velcro-adjustable for men and women ensuring a snug fit
It comes with customizable resistance levels and you can adjust them as per your need
With a whopping 24 breathing resistance levels, Fitgame provides the ultimate in altitude acclimatization. The mask comes with 4 rubber resistance washers that have to be inserted into the mask according to the instructions to create varying degrees of resistance. The resistance is based on the manner the washers are inserted. You can change resistance 8 levels at a time without removing the mask, however, if you are increasing the load more than 8 levels, you will have to remove the mask and insert the washers accordingly to create the next set of intensity.
This lightweight mask is suitable for all ages, genders, and workout types, designed with durability and comfort in mind! The breathable headband is adjustable with a Velcro strap to contour to your face and remain in place. We believe it’s an excellent training mask!
Airflow levels can be changed without taking the mask off
Dual Velcro adjustment allows you to adjust the size at the back and top of the head
The sleeve is changeable, disassemblable, and breathable
This training mask comes at a great price and is ideal for breathing training. The universal size is adjustable with a dual Velcro strap around the top and back of the head.
The mask’s cup is made from non-toxic silicone while the head strap is soft, smooth, and detachable for washing. The mask has 3 intensity levels allowing you to progress from easy through to hard in only 3 steps. You can easily change these resistance levels without removing the mask for an uninterrupted workout. Moreover, the mask size is suited for individuals within a weight range of 120 to 230 pounds – and that’s perfect.
Whether you are doing respiratory training for swimming events, high altitude competitions, or summiting a mountain, using a training mask can help you achieve challenging goals and increase your physical performance. Elevation training masks (ETMs) reduce the amount of oxygen available to your lungs and heart during training which in turn forces your body to adapt its physiological responses. Similarly, when you are underwater, or in a high altitude location, the oxygen your lungs receive is limited, requiring better breathing techniques and efficient use of the air that is available.
Of course, not getting enough air at all can be hugely detrimental to your health, this is why it is important to choose a good quality mask and use it correctly. This section will help you select the right training mask so you can reach your specific respiratory fitness goals!
How Do Training Masks Work?
When you wear a training mask your body starts to adapt to the reduced oxygen intake by making your lungs and heart work harder to efficiently distribute oxygen throughout your body. It will take some time of training for extended periods with the mask to have a noteworthy adaptation effect.
Once your lungs have adapted to less oxygen and you train without the mask, your body will more efficiently use the available oxygen. This will give you a major boost and help you perform better. Not only is there more oxygen, but your lungs and heart have also been trained to use it more efficiently resulting in better endurance, speed, and stamina.
Benefits of Training with an Altitude Mask
Building aerobic capacity
VO₂ max refers to the uppermost limit of oxygen your body is capable of using during exercise. It may also be referred to as peak oxygen intake. Training masks have the potential to help you develop your peak oxygen intake which essentially means you get fitter and can perform better.
Building Lung function
Studies have shown varying results as to how effective training masks are for building lung function, however, using ETMs is very effective as respiratory muscle training tools. This could be beneficial for swimmers as well as runners, cyclists, and rowers.
Wearing a training mask simulates high-altitude conditions resulting in a below-normal level of oxygen in your blood (hypoxemia). This is useful when training for high-altitude events while you’re at sea level. You do, however, need to consider whether the length of time you wear the mask daily is long enough to cause physical adaptation.
What to Consider When Buying a Training Mask
Choosing a mask that is too loose may defeat the purpose and allow more oxygen in than you want. You also don’t want something so tight that it is going to hurt you. Altitude masks should fit snugly so you can move around without shifting position. Sizes generally come in small, medium, and large, determined by your body weight as follows:
Large: 254 lbs – 308 lbs
Medium: 154 lbs – 254 lbs
Small: 99 lbs – 154 lbs
You can also measure your face to determine the correct training mask size. Optimally the outer edge of the mask should fit snugly on your face at 1 to 1.5 inches beyond the corner of your mouth. Measure your nose line just above your lips to 1 - 1.5 inches past the outside corner of your mouth. Double the measurement to determine your size according to the following sizing guidelines:
Large: 5 inches
Medium: 4.5 inches
Small: 4 inches
One-size-fits-all adjustable masks are also available which make great gifts if you are unsure of the exact size to get.
Air Resistance Caps
The air resistance caps determine the amount of oxygen restriction. For example, some masks have 6 air resistance caps, mimicking the altitudes from 3000 ft to 18000 ft in 3000 ft increments. Others may feature 16 levels of intensity, allowing you to make adjustments in smaller increments. Keep in mind, the higher the intensity, the shorter your workout should be.
Choose a mask that is lightweight and designed with resilient fabrics or medical silicone that won’t add any weight-bearing feeling to your face. You also want to look for high-performance materials designed to be worn specifically when playing sports and during workouts. Antimicrobial materials that are easy to clean are of high importance, especially since they go on your face.
There are a few aspects of the design you need to consider. Firstly, have a look at the strap. A wide outer band rather than tight elastic may keep the mask in place better and also be more comfortable. In addition, you want to consider how easy it is to wash the mask, remove valves, and adjust the resistance levels.
To wash the mask you will most likely have to remove the valves. Is this easy and is it easy to replace the valves and filters over time? Ask yourself questions like this to make a better decision. Moreover, make sure the mask is designed in a way that lets you adjust resistance levels without having to take the mask off. You want to slowly adapt the levels while wearing the mask, and this should be easy to do!
Best Training Mask FAQ
Do training masks really work?
Elevation training masks are highly effective as respiratory muscle training devices. When it comes to altitude training there have however been mixed reviews. When you are situated in a high altitude location your body has time to adapt as it is constantly exposed to the reduced oxygen levels. Therefore, whether you are exercising or not, your body needs to adapt.
When using an altitude mask for only 30 or 60 minutes a couple of times per week, it is questionable as to how much your body really adapts and how significant the adaptation is.
Will you burn more calories doing altitude training?
Altitude training may result in more calories burned than the same workout done at sea level. Altitude training can improve metabolic rate post-workout meaning you still burn calories over the 12 to 15 hours after a high-altitude workout.
Can altitude masks filter air?
No, training masks reduce the total amount of airflow to the lungs but do not change the quality of incoming air.
Damon is motivated by trying new things. He's been skydiving, whitewater rafting in Georgia, and hiking on the Appalachian Trail. Professionally, he's bounced around from retail jobs to journalism to eventually managing a gym, picking up valuable skills and lessons along the way. Despite his frequent spontaneous adventures and heavy weight lifting sessions, he keeps returning to Yoga and Pilates to help strengthen his mind, body, and spirit.