Mixed martial arts, when practised the right way, can make you physically strong and tough, and help you get in a better overall physical state.
But if you want to take it up a notch and train like a professional, you might want to try what Michael Phelps and hundreds of other athletes do: Elevation Training.
And no, you won’t have to move to Colorado Springs or Ecuador in order to train this way. Instead, you can use an elevation training mask that can potentially give you equal benefits, just in a different way. So read on to find out more about what this mask can do for you.
To get the most out of an elevation training mask and to train better for MMA, let’s understand what elevation training exactly is.
Athletes from all around the world go to cities in high altitudes to train. This is because the air in high places has a decreased partial pressure of oxygen. Hence, you get a lesser amount of oxygen per breath, no matter how hard you breathe.
In turn, you’ll find yourself tiring much quicker and huffing and puffing like you’re exercising for the first time. But how does this help you?
Well, the air is thin, and you can’t do anything about it, so your body does what living organisms have been doing for millions of years: adapt. As a response to decreased partial pressure, your body produces more red blood cells.
Now your body is capable of carrying more oxygen with these new blood cells. So, when you go down to sea level, you’ll have all these extra blood cells to carry more oxygen than you actually need, and you’ll find yourself having extra stamina and improving your athletic performance.
But what if you don’t want to move to the mighty Alps? Enter elevation training masks. These are masks that make it feel as if the person is at high altitude, that is, less oxygen to lungs.
However, it’s not quite the same, and the benefits of using a training mask are slightly different from elevation training.
How does a training mask work? These masks restrict the amount of air you breathe in, but the amount of oxygen that you receive remains the same due to normal partial pressure at sea level. In order to truly get the increased haemoglobin effect, you’ll have to go to high altitudes for training.
Instead, you can get a different sort of advantage with training masks: respiratory muscle training.
You can’t get increased hemoglobin through training masks, but here are some things that they can do for you:
Remember the last time you worked out, and you couldn’t complete that last push up because your arms gave up? That was you reaching the respiratory compensation threshold. Before you reach this point, your body is producing energy anaerobically, which is done by breaking down glucose.
As a result, lactic acid is built up in the muscles, which eventually makes you stop and breathe in gulps of oxygen. This helps break down the lactic acid in the muscles.
However, increasing RCT means that you’ll reach this exhaustion point much slower and have more stamina. A training mask helps you do just that.
This is proved by a study conducted between 24 people divided into two groups. After six weeks of training with elevation training masks, both the control group and the masked group performed better. However, only the masked group showed increased RCT.
Although this increase was not too significant, the few added seconds of effort and stamina in your performance can give you the athletic edge you’re looking for in competitions and events.
Using a training mask is like lifting weights – only it’s for respiratory muscles instead of skeletal. When you make your respiratory muscles stronger, you’ll be able to utilize oxygen much more efficiently.
In effect, you’ll tire less easily and fight longer and more powerfully. But how does a training mask help you strengthen these muscles?
Most elevation training masks come with a valve that you can use to set the amount of air you breathe. So, in the beginning, just like lifting weights, you’ll set the lowest setting and gradually go towards the highest, which offers the most resistance or the least amount of oxygen.
When your lungs aren’t getting enough oxygen, their air sacs stretch in order to create more surface area. This way, there will be an increased uptake of oxygen and, hence, you get an increased lung capacity with these masks.
Moreover, your diagram and other respiratory muscles get stronger as well, which helps you have more stamina and more endurance.
Have you ever been running or doing some other exercise intensively and noticed that you’re breathing way too fast? Soon after this, you have to stop and catch your breath. That’s called a ventilatory threshold. You start breathing faster to get more oxygen until you can’t breathe fast enough.
When you use a training mask, your breath intake and depth will increase gradually, and you’ll reach your VT much slower than before. Thus, you get more time to put in more effort and boost your athletic performance.
The same study we discussed earlier also proves that training masks increase VT. The key to top-notch performance in certain sports is breathing exercises that increase your lung capacity, make you utilize oxygen much more efficiently, help you take deeper breaths, and reach the RCT AND VT much slower.
For instance, George Paul, the famous NBA star, uses a training mask for better performance. You can apply the same to MMA, where you’ll be able to remain stronger and faster than your opponents for a more extended period.
While you can’t deny the benefits of elevation training, there are some drawbacks you should consider.
For instance, increased red blood cells may increase oxygen supply, but it also thickens the blood. This, in turn, makes it harder for it to reach different parts of the body. It can also lead to fatal conditions such as blood clots in some people.
Also, the increased haemoglobin eventually goes back to normal within three or four months, which means you’ll have to go back to a high altitude again and train there.
With a training mask, sure, you’re not getting the benefits of increased haemoglobin, but you’re also avoiding its risks. Plus, you can train at your gym or at home, without having to stay in some hills for months.
Believe it or not, your confidence is a crucial factor in performing better at any sport. A study by Kate Hays et al. proves this as well. When you know that you worked extra hard and you have the edge you need to win a competition, you’ll be able to perform better.
Moreover, having increased confidence also makes the sport more enjoyable, as the study suggests.
In case you’re not able to achieve the main goals of wearing an elevation training mask, you’ll still have a psychological edge.
For instance, in MMA, if you’re in a situation where your opponent is choking you, you’ll know that you have faced a similar situation before by wearing the mask. This can help you perform better at that moment.
Now that you know about elevation training masks and their benefits, are you willing to give it a try? If so, you might want to start with the Friorange elevation training mask.
This mask offers you three different levels of resistance, which you can use to help your body adapt to less air gradually. To do this, you can easily use the valve at the front to change levels mid-workout.
Moreover, the mask comes with a silicone body that doesn’t slip off your face or irritate it in any way. And since it’s silicone, it fits perfectly according to your face shape, without feeling too tight or too loose.
Also, one size fits everybody with its strap, so you don’t have to worry about fitting. This strap is made up of breathable material for maximum comfort. You can also remove and wash it once it gets sweaty after a workout session.
Plus, the mask is pretty affordable when you compare it with others. This makes it a good choice for you if you’re trying elevation training to see if it works.
Or, if you’re a regular user and need a mask with the highest setting, this will prove to be a cost-effective choice. You won’t need a lot of different settings if you’re already used to training masks.
It’s true that elevation training masks don’t entirely mimic an elevated environment. However, the benefits are somewhat similar. You get improved and efficient breathing, which leads to you putting in more effort than you normally could. And that’s what you’re looking for, right?
When you pair these training masks with proper exercises, like running, cycling, martial arts, etc., and a balanced and nutritious diet, you’ll surely find an enhancement in your performance
A training mask or elevation mask is not the most glamorous fitness gear. If anything, it’s more on the grunge side as far as the looks are concerned. However, it’s capable of really amplifying the intensity of your workouts and gives you the energy to break your own records. For starters, it’s long been a...