Are There any Side Effects of Elevation Training Masks?

I travel a lot and have been in many boxing and MMA gyms. Wherever I go, I see at least one person who trains with an elevation training mask. Obviously, these work and have many incredible benefits like having more endurance. I also read that many people, who do Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training, also train with them religiously. I am also one of the people, who use high altitude masks regularly, in my training sessions and I am seriously happy with the results.

With that, there are many people who are hesitant to get training masks since they think that these masks have “side effects”. Well, I have been using these elevation masks for 3-4 years. I have a lot of experiences with them and I also read a lot of scientific research, experiments… and I even studied the mechanism of them. Anyway, shortly I did my homework and gathered four “side effects” of elevation training masks. Below you can find them and my experiences as well.

are high altitude training masks dangerous

1. Heart Beats Faster

Elevation masks are supposed to create hypoxia which means low oxygen environment. It is their job. So when it is the case, less oxygen is delivered to your blood. Obviously, the blood flow increases because now blood is carrying less oxygen to your muscles. So your heart starts beating faster than usual.

Alright, this is a side effect but it is supposed to happen. I know that many people consider this as a side effect but how can this be a side effect if high altitude masks are supposed to make your heart beat faster?

So this can’t be considered as a side effect, period.


2. Extreme Fatigue

After we reach ventilatory threshold during an exercise, we consume more energy than normal. In this case, glycogen stores are depleted in no time. After you reach your ventilatory threshold, if you push yourself more even for a couple of minutes, you will be extremely tired.

My Experience with Elevation Masks: After I had a hard time to breathe while I was training with a heavy bag, I could not continue training for 30 more seconds! Yes, this sucks so I can easily say that you can feel extreme fatigue and according to a myriad of studies, your respiratory system (muscles, lung…) can get hurt.

So when you train with a training mask, just don’t overtrain and don’t push yourself!


3. Reduced Neural Activity

When blood has more carbon dioxide density, your neural activity is also affected by it.

Obviously, your neural activity becomes less than normal. However, it does not affect anything and it only lasts while you train. So after you take your mask off, your neural activity will be back to normal. Also, after you spend at least a couple of months with good quality altitude masks, you will show more neural activity. So this is a disadvantage and an advantage at the same time!

As a final note, after many MMA fighters had spent a considerable time with training masks, many of them said that they improved their focus significantly. If you want to know more about them, you can read professional athletes and fighters’ experiences.are there any side effects of elevation training masks

4. Loss of Consciousness

If you go overboard and train with training masks beyond your limit, then you can experience loss of consciousness. According to Journal of Sports Science’s studies, the effects of loss of consciousness are likely to be bigger under hypoxic conditions.

With that, when you think about it (having less oxygen in your muscles etc.), this actually makes sense. Because we already have less oxygen in our body so it is normal that if we go overboard, we will be affected more.

However, keep in mind that if you go overboard in almost any training type, you can lose your conscious and I am sure that many of you have witnessed someone lost his/her consciousness in a locker room of a gym. Well, at least I have. So shortly don’t overtrain with training masks because the consequences can be bigger.


My Experiences: I remember that I used to feel “weird” while an altitude mask provided resistance only while I am inhaling. Alright, it is seriously hard to describe but I just felt odd and my stamina did not change one bit after I trained with this particular mask over four months. However, when I started training with Training Mask 2.0, which is another mask and provides resistance while you are inhaling and exhaling, I did not experience this situation. Even though I could not find any decent studies, which support my experience, forum (MMA, BJJ) members also experienced the same thing. So while you are choosing a training mask, you should be careful about whether it provides resistance while inhaling and exhaling air or not.

disadvantages of training masks

As a side note, I did not notice even a slight change in my neural activity and I can focus the same while I was training with elevation masks.


Let’s Wrap It Up

Guys honestly you will barely feel some of these temporary side effects and you are actually supposed to feel some of them. With that, if you are careful, you can avoid some of them as well. In addition to these, I also have more than 3 years of experiences with elevation masks and I just felt extreme fatigue time to time after my MMA sessions. Other than that I did not feel any of these. Also, keep in mind that many professional athletes, boxers (Anthony Joshua) also use training masks. So if these don’t work well and have “side effects”, would top-notch athletes use them? Well, I definitely don’t think so.

If you get a quality elevation training mask, you can actually decrease the possibility of having these “side effects”. These masks also provide amazing benefits (fat loss, adjusting higher altitudes etc.) fast and there is no other training equipment which lets you experience higher altitudes. If you are interested in getting all of these benefits, then definitely check out these best-rated training masks. I also used some of them for years and I did not experience anything bad! I really hope that you enjoyed reading and if you experienced any other side effects of high altitude masks, please do mention them in the comment section and let’s discuss.


Image Courtesy of U.S. Armytacofleur, and SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE via Creative Commons License, Some Rights Reserved
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