Are Training Masks Useful?


Question: I wanted to know if those training masks that restrict oxygen flow were useful. I’ve seen that Marshawn Lynch uses one and wondered how they worked.

Answer: The idea of the mask is to restrict the airflow in a manner similar to what one would experience if training were occurring at a high altitude or in a barometric room.

By training at high altitude your cardio-pulmonary system adapts to the demand from your muscles for oxygen and over time, a few weeks, your body responds by producing a greater amount of red blood cells. This increases the amount of oxygen your blood can carry to the muscles and the amount of carbon dioxide and lactic acid waste it can get out of the muscles.

So if it operates like altitude training it would be a useful tool. That being said let’s discuss the difference between real useful information and real clever marketing. Using Marshawn Lynch as an example, he has developed into the Beast over years of training doing the little things right. At this point in his career, all the small steps he has taken in training, by taking those small steps seriously and doing them intensely, he has reached a point that the mask may help him.

Before you go invest in the mask though, you need to ask yourself are you doing all the training you need now? Are you running sprints, stadium steps, hills? Are you flipping tires and driving sleds? Are you running repeat pass routes ?

The mask looks cool, especially on a super player, in slow motion for a few seconds with great back ground music. It looks cool and draws attention to you if you do wear it. Restricted breathing with in a workout is extremely difficult.

Do the training you need to do now – the training you have available to you. Master that, and if the SEC or ACC come calling then invest in the hype.

God bless and keep training,