Black male exercising Paris park Spring afternoon wearing breathing apparatus

Altitude masks are a phenomenon that have been sweeping gyms across the country for the past few years.

You know what we are talking about – the face masks that make you look like an evil villain from a Batman movie. For about $100, you too can own this sweet piece of face gear, but is it worth your investment?

The point of these devices is to simulate training at high altitudes. The mask reduces airflow, making it harder to breathe and taking cardiovascular training to the next level. According to TrainingMask.com:

“Elevation Training Mask will help get your breathing under control and help with lung stamina, increase lung capacity, oxygen efficiency and increase overall mental focus. Training Mask can be used to make you become a better athlete in all sports and daily living.”

Sounds good in theory, but how does it old up in practice? Luckily, several scientific tests have already been conducted on the subject. Here’s what a couple of them found:

• A 2002 study at Texas Tech researched seven collegiate distance runners, testing them before and after a four-week training program with these masks. The study found no change in their maximum oxygen consumption, or VO2 max, during exercise.

• Another study at Arizona State University tested nine moderately-trained cyclists divided into two groups – one group with the masks, and one group without. After three weeks of training, the group with the masks also showed no improvement in their VO2 max.

Sure, there have been other studies that found the masks do, in fact improve training. But wouldn’t you want concrete scientific evidence, not conflicting opinions, before shelling out your hard earned money? For that reason, we can say there is simply not enough proof to warrant purchasing one, unless you are content with a $100 facial accessory.

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