Historically, long distance runners and cyclists train at high altitude locations, challenging their lungs to work with reduced amounts of oxygen so they last longer and breathe easier at lower elevations. Training masks simulate the high altitude training experience by restricting your air intake at different levels, forcing your respiratory muscles to work harder and also forcing you to focus on your breathing and movement.
Air Restriction Improves Muscle Endurance
Whenever you use a training mask, you are taking part in what is called Intermittent Hypoxic Training (IHT). During IHT, the reduced amount of oxygen forced your body to create more hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that delivers oxygen to tissues in your body to create energy. After you remove the mask, your red blood cells will continue to carry more oxygen to your tissues, thereby giving you more energy to last longer.
Over time your lungs will adapt to this air resistance and learn to use oxygen more efficiently. You will also gain an increased aerobic threshold and lung capacity so you can train faster, harder, and longer.
Training Masks Help Improve Mental Focus
In addition to carrying fantastic aerobic benefits, wearing a training mask forces you to pay more attention to your breathing and helps you concentrate on your body’s sensations. Bodily awareness, especially with breathing techniques, can have exceedingly positive effects on conditioning.
Together your body and mind form a unit-- in nearly any discipline, the breathing has a major influence on conditioning and concentration. By learning to align your breathing techniques and body movements, you’ll get tougher in your discipline and be able to push your limits and achieve new goals.