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Fitness & Health

06th Jun 2018

Altitude masks are ineffective, research finds

Here's how you can really improve your fitness.

Alex Roberts

Aside from leaving you looking like Bane or Hannibal Lecter, altitude masks don’t really work, studies show

There are far easier, cheaper and more effective ways of increasing your gym performance.

Copying pro-sport may seem like an attractive thing to do, but it isn’t always the best way of working.

For example, a once-per-week bodybuilding training split may get the job done, but only if you’ve got your sights set on a contest.

The situation is similar when it comes to altitude masks.

Their use gained prominence in sport science circles, but mainly as a means of investigation to see whether they do actually increase performance.

The thinking behind the altitude mask is that restricting the presence of natural oxygen simulates what it’s like to train at a high altitude.

While that might sound convincing, the evidence is less so.

A study published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research looked at the effects of wearing an altitude mask while undergoing typical gym training.

Researchers found the altitude mask offered no advantage to the number of reps performed on the bench press and back squat.

In actual fact, it negatively impacted power output on both lifts – and even hindered alertness.

If you really are keen to experience what it’s like to train at a high-altitude, the best thing you can do is, you’ve guessed it – go and train at high-altitude.

The UK is blessed with some magnificent mountain ranges, where you can take in the natural scenery while improving your cardiovascular fitness.

This beats staring at a blank gym wall whilst doing cardio.

If you’re looking for a more practical and cost-effective way of improving your fitness, then check out JOE’s Wednesday Workout.

This fat-burning interval workout can be added to the end of your sessions very easily. Here’s what to do:

  • 5 pull-ups
  • 10 press-ups

That’s one set. Perform both exercises back-to-back with no rest in between.

Try to complete 10 sets in 10 minutes. If you can, that’s good. Under 8 minutes is excellent, and under 6 minutes is even better.

If you’re more concerned about building a bigger bench press, read our three tips on gaining super strength.