In recent years there has been a slow sweeping phenomenon in the world of athletic training that has made its mark as not only one of the most unique pieces of training equipment available but also allegedly one of the most effective. The device is called the Elevation Training Mask and it has taken the mixed martial arts world by storm and has been showcased by world champion fighters: Sean Sherk, Rashad Evans, and Wanderlei Silva. But! Does the mask really work? How do you use the mask? SwoleScience took this mask through a rigorous six week training regime and these are the real world results, as well as how to use the mask, clean it, fit it, and train with it. Read more below to find out.
The Elevation Training mask is a modified Israeli civilian gas mask with three varying nose pieces which screw onto the original gas mask filter adapter in order to restrict and provide resistance to the respiratory system. The Israeli civilian gas mask is a very common well fitting mask that is not only slim and lightweight but also has excellent weight distribution while being worn. The theory behind the mask is that if you restrict the level of oxygen you can improve athletic performance in a multitude of ways. The Elevation Training Mask comes with:
- The mask
- Three resistance nose pieces
- Three cleaning wipes
- Information packet
- Blackout eye covers (optional reusable adhesive stickers for the lenses that allow for stimulated blackout and claustrophobic training)
The plastic discs are color coded and are as such:
- Yellow- 3 small holes. Restricts breathing x 1 time.
- Orange- 2 small holes. Restricts breathing x 3 times.
- Red- 1 small hole. Restricts breathing x 9 times.
The purpose of the mask is to improve athletic anaerobic performance and this is how it does it: The mask claims to replicate the effects of high altitude training which is the principle that an athlete who trains in a oxygen restricted environment will cause their body to physiologically change and thus improve performance at sea level. The physiological changes are increased efficiency of oxygen use through the body’s increased production of red blood cells and capillaries due to the reaction to limited oxygen, and thus improved endurance and nutrients’ levels during competition at sea level. Additionally the mask claims to cause a slight increase in carbon dioxide to improve performance through the Bohr Effect, which states that a increase of carbon dioxide in blood causes decreased affinity of hemoglobin for oxygen and therefore more available oxygen.
Features of the Mask
The mask is a light weight rubber that ergonomically fits on the face and must be balanced with the correct fit. On the front of the mask there is an intake adapter where the nose piece screws in and directly below it there is an exhaust vent. The mask has small rubber internal disk valves that open and close with the corresponding flow of respiratory gas so that air only comes in through the top vent and out through the lower vent.
The mask also features a voice box within the exhaust valve which allows for speech to be audibly heard while talking in the mask with very little hindrance in volume and quality.
The screw vent on the right side of the mask is for drinking water through the mask. It requires a additional special adapter straw and is generally reserved for when the mask is used during tactical application.
There are five adjustable elastic straps that clamp on to small multiple grommets on the mask. The straps are easily adjusted on the fly by simply pulling on the ends of each strap to tighten and by angling the buckles to loosen.
There is also a rectangular elastic pad that is meant to be angled on the back of the head to provide the best fit.
The inside of mask is defined by two eye lenses and a jet fighter style internal mask. The jet fighter mask covers your nose and mouth which prevents hot air from the respiratory process from backing up into the mask and thus fogging of the eye lenses. The top lateral sides of the internal mask have two diaphragm vents that further limit any exhaled hair from reaching the eye mask area. The internal cylindrical rubber piece near the mouth is the other end of the water straw.
Fitting and Cleaning the Mask
In order to fit the mask, place your chin in the cup at the bottom of the mask and place the mask over your face while simultaneously pulling the straps over your head. This is where it gets tricky: Do not over tighten the straps or the internal jet fighter mask will become too depressed against the skin and therefore cause the mask to fog. So first, lightly tighten each of the lateral straps two at a time and then lastly pull on the top strap just enough to keep your chin in the cup. Overly tightening the mask will not only cause discomfort and headaches but it will cause the mask to fog constantly due to a poor seal. Now due to the fact that you will be breathing heavily in the mask, there will be a tremendous amount of moisture present after it’s use. Since the mask only comes with three wipes and the company does not sell any additional ones on their site, the best way to clean the mask is to put a few drops of mild soap in the mask and rise it under lukewarm water allowing the soap to fill the mask. Swish the water around washing the mask with your hands, and finally rinse until soap is no longer present. Wash the nose pieces separately and leave all components to air dry. Do not scrub the eye lenses or use any harsh chemicals on the mask.
Experience and Results with the Mask
The first thing you’ll notice when you put the mask on is that you sound like Darth Vader. Secondly, the range of vision in the mask is excellent. The mask provides the aforementioned intake resistance with correlation to the attached nose piece but there is also a slight resistance upon exhalation as well. The mask slows your breathing down by requiring you to take large, deep breaths due to the resistance. Working out with the mask is extremely motivating by providing a tunnel-vision-like-focus effect on the task at hand and restricting distractions due to having to focus on your breathing. As the workout progresses your heart rate increases, and so does your need for oxygen, which would naturally be met with rapid breathing. This mask forces you to slow down your breathing no matter how hard the workout gets and to take deep labored breaths. Keeping the mask on truly helps build a level of mental strength as you will have to keep it on for any benefit, and every natural instinct in your body will be telling you to rip it off.
Sparring, pads, bag work, weights and cardiovascular exercises with the mask are exceptional and are not hindered in anyway by the mask due to it’s slim light weight profile and field of vision. Resistance exercises with the mask are very different and take some getting used to. You’ll have to slow your breathing down and take deep heavy breaths in between sets in order to oxygenate your body. Cardiovascular activities are very similar in dynamics to resistance exercises but require you to maintain your focus and breathing pattern no matter what the level of intensity. One thing you will notice is that no matter how hard you work and no matter what you do, the mask will only let you take deep resisted breaths which helps you pace yourself.
The most remarkable benefit of using the mask, aside from the previously mentioned characteristics, is one that is not even really advertised by the company: its effect on the lungs. The lungs are almost always the weak point during exercise due to the inability to resistance train them in the same manner that you would do with other areas of your body. The mask actually strengthens your pulmonary muscles and will give your lungs a slight sore feeling due to the resistance after each use. Additionally, it increases lung capacity very quickly thus resulting in increased cardiovascular and pulmonary functions. Through these improvements in performance, the mask allowed for an increase in lung capacity, ability to hold your breath, and resulted in naturally deeper clear breathing when the mask was off. This mask is recommended not only for athletes but for those who want to increase their lung muscle resistance and capacity.
When using the mask, start with the yellow nose piece for a several weeks and begin to increase the resistance after approximately four weeks. Additionally feel free to vary resistance such as using the red cap for weight training and orange for cardiovascular training. With the use of the mask over six weeks- training capacity, endurance, and lung efficiency definitely improved significantly. It made cardiovascular and strength training more efficient by allowing for a very prominent increase in endurance capability in every activity. The end result was being able to train harder and longer when the mask was off.
The mask costs $89.99 directly from Elevation and is at the upper end of the price range for these types pulmonary resistance devices.
The first issue is that instructions could be included with regard to cleaning, fitting and care. The second issue is the price of the product. The positives of the mask are very beneficial to athletic performance but given the components it would be more accessible at a slightly reduced price. Another issue is that due to the rubber composition and use conditions, the “Training Mask” and “Elevation” stickers have a propensity to come off fairly quickly, but simply email the company and they will send you replacements for free.
The Elevation Training Mask takes the undergound concept of gas mask training and makes it accessible in a revolutionary product that helps improve athletic performance through increase of pulmonary capabilities and bodily oxygen levels.
Purchase the Elevation Training Mask here directly at- http://www.trainingmask.com/
(This is an original post copyright to SwoleScience.com, credited to the aforementioned author. Its reproduction is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved to the original authors of any quoted or embedded material. This is an impartial review on a provided product without compensation and originally tested by the author)