If you’ve been wondering what the guy on the treadmill wearing the Bane mask is up to, he is using a new elevation training mask to simulate exercising in a high-elevation environment. Yes, another trendy piece of gym equipment that everyday exercisers will have to decide warrants panting like Darth Vader after a 5K.
Olympic and professional athletes have trained at high altitudes, also known as hypoxic training, for decades. The body compensates for the low levels of oxygen in high-altitude areas by increasing production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body quicker. This adaptation is believed by many to give athletes an edge once they compete at altitudes closer to sea level.
The elevation mask seeks to simulate this environment by restricting airflow and oxygen to the user, similar to the low oxygen available in high-altitude areas. However, there are some other factors to consider.
Many athletes move to higher-altitude locations, or spend time in oxygen chambers, during training season for months at a time. Athletes typically live and rest in high-altitude locations, but will travel to lower altitudes to train because the limit of oxygen in high altitudes can prevent athletes from fully exerting themselves during their workouts, a worry elevation mask users will have to consider.
The science behind the benefit of hypoxic training is inconclusive. There is even more skepticism over whether or not the masks are efficient in mimicking the process without accounting for factors like air pressure.