In the competitive world of MMA, athletes are always searching for ways to get an edge over the competition. Bringing in the best sparring partners, drilling combinations for hours on end, and weighing out food to the nearest gram can undoubtedly help, but one factor stands head and shoulders above the rest – and that one thing is cardio.
You can be ripped, well-drilled, and have the best coaches in your corner, but if your gas tank isn’t up to the challenge, you will quickly find yourself in deep water.
Now, it’s no secret that being physically fit is essential if you plan on entering the ring or cage, but in a world where everybody is training to get fitter, faster, and stronger, how do you rise up and find that oh so lucrative competitive edge?
While there are hundreds of training methods that promise to get you fitter than the rest, from sprint training, to fartlek, to circuits – very few have stood the test of time.
A training method that has stood the test of time, however, and not only for MMA practitioners, but for all athletes is altitude training.
Altitude training has sparked the interest of trainers and athletes since the 1960s and is still being implemented by professionals from a range of athletic backgrounds. The idea stemmed from watching the increased performance demonstrated by endurance runners that lived and trained out of countries that were naturally high above sea level, countries such as Ethiopia and Chile.
After some 60 years of in-depth research, the benefits of altitude training are now well understood. When the body is exposed to higher altitudes, where the temperature, humidity, and oxygen levels are lower, and the sun/ultraviolet rays are higher, several positive changes happen:
All of these positive changes happen as a result of the body’s defenses at work. When the body is forced to function in less than ideal conditions, such as high altitudes, the body adapts to ensure that all vital organs and muscles continue to get the amount of oxygen required for proper function.
These adaptations start to take place almost instantly, but most research shows that the effects are only noticeable after around 7-10 days, and will only reach their peak 3-4 weeks after acclimatization.
The result of such adaptations is essentially a far fitter and aerobically capable athlete. No specialized training is required, simply flowing intensive aerobic workouts at a higher altitude is enough to see more significant increases in fitness levels.
Altitude training is a great tool to use, especially for those who take part in combat sports. However, despite altitude training being relatively straightforward, it isn’t very accessible.
Not everybody is lucky enough to live in a high altitude country, or has access to a suitable mountain range – so the only way to train at altitude is to travel.
Travelling to another country for a training camp can be incredibly expensive, not to mention mentally taxing. And for those who wish to train at an elite level even when not competing, travelling to another country is not a very viable option.
The only way to replicate the positive effects of altitude training is to replicate the conditions in which altitude training occurs. And the best way to do this is through the use of an “elevation mask,” commonly known as a training mask.
A training mask is a wearable device that limits the amount of oxygen a user has access too, mimicking the amazingly beneficial effects of altitude training.
Training masks work by varying the amount of resistance on the respiratory system by controlling how much airflow is allowed to pass through. The less air resistance, the easier it is to breathe and the less taxing on the respiratory system; equally, the more air resistance, the harder it is to breathe, and the more taxing on the respiratory system.
This increase in breathing difficulty resulting from exercising in a training mask makes the lungs more powerful and efficient over time, resulting in an overall increase in fitness and cardiovascular ability.
Training masks are beneficial for all athletes, but are particularly well suited to those who take part in combat sports, such as BJJ, kickboxing, and MMA.
Combat sport athletes require a very versatile level of fitness – a combination of both endurance and power. A quality made training mask can be worn for an entire session, regardless of the exercises taking place.
You can put a training mask to good use on a 5k trail run to boost cardiovascular endurance, while flipping tractor tires to increase lung capacity, and even when hitting the pads to mimic the later rounds of a fight.
Training masks are incredibly versatile and are a must-have piece of kit for any martial artist looking to take their fitness to the next level.
As with any item of training equipment, buying quality is the only way that you can guarantee the desired results.
It can be tempting to purchase budget training masks from unrepeatable brands in order to save a few pennies, but not only will the performance and quality be less than acceptable, but using such training masks can actually harm your fitness levels.
MMA Universe is one of the most well known and respected retailers of quality MMA equipment and stocks a number of top quality training masks that will see you reaching fitness goals in record time.
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...