Elevation Training 101 – By Wayne Mutata

(Last Updated On: December 12, 2018)

If you have seen some of my videos you may have noticed that some of my clients are wearing black masks during the workouts, some of you may have seen people in your local gym wearing them or even have one yourself. For those that have wondered what the ‘Bane’ looking contraptions are, they are referred to as elevation training masks. The one you see in the videos is the newest version which is less bulkier and scary looking than the first ‘gees’ I know lol. The Company that makes them claims that the Elevation Training Mask mimics the effects of High Altitude Training. What this means is that when elite athletes want to improve their performance they go to high altitude levels to train. When they come back to sea level they perform much stronger, faster, and have increased endurance. Weather this is true or not. I have managed to use the masks effectively with a few of the performance athletes I work with.

Elevation training, altitude training, elevation training mask

If you are from the school of thought that the mask is just a gimmick that is entirely up to you. I was in the same boat until I was left on my knees gasping for air after 10 min. I trained with the mask for a month and noticed what it did for me personally. I will not go all technical on you but the mask is supposed to force your body to create more red blood cells. More Red Blood Cells = More Oxygen (to feed your working muscles with). This is very important for endurance athletes. Altitude training is a must for those in the know how.

Altitude training

Altitude training is based on the premise that when you’re at altitude, there’s less oxygen in the air, making exercise a lot harder. The higher you go, the less oxygen there is, the harder exercise is. Because of this, it’s theorized that altitude will force your body to adapt increase your red blood cell (RBC) count and thus improving aerobic performance, delaying onset of anaerobic energy production and improving recovery. Below are manufacturer claims I may or may not agree with.

• Increase in Lung capacity as your lungs have to work 9 times harder to get the oxygen in (Not sure bout this )

• Increase anaerobic Thresholds

•Gas exchange becomes more efficient

•Energy Production levels rise

•Mental and Physical stamina increase

•Mental Focus gets better(Not sure about this one too)

altitude training, elevation training

What is altitude?

Altitude refers to elevation above sea level where the air is less dense, and thus contains less oxygen because there are fewer particles in the air overall; % of oxygen remains the same as at sea level; two major variables are manipulated, where you train (High or Low) and where you train (High or Low), thus, the following combinations exist and have been thoroughly studied:

  • Train High Live High (THLH)
  • Train Low Live High (TLLH)
  • Train High Live Low (THLL)
  • Train Low Live Low (TLLL – what most of us do all the time)

Some popular altitudes:
Boulder, Colorado, USA: 1650 m
Whistler, British Columbia, Canada: 652 m
French Alps: 2500 m
If you want to see how exactly how dense air is at a certain altitude, check this link out:



So far so good? This is important – remember it, you’ll need this knowledge later. This is the theory, anyway, but lucky for us, it’s been rigorously tested by scientists from around the world. Altitude training gained huge popularity after the Olympic Games in 1968 which were held in Mexico City which lies at an altitude of 2300 m, so for those athletes who weren’t prepared for this, it was a huge shock and the exercise physiologists were put to work to figure out how to use this to their advantage. Now, as mentioned in the Altitude definition above, there are 3 main combinations of altitude training that have been studied: Live High Train High, Live Low Train High and Live High Train Low. With respect to the Training Mask, if it’s supposed to mimic training at altitude and you wear it during your workouts, this would be similar as Live Low Train High (LLTH), since during your workout, you’re ‘training’ at altitude and the rest of the time you’re at your normal altitude.

We can argue back and forth about what factors need to be present for the above to take place but this is not about that or if there is any weight to any of the claims about this product. Ultimately this is about making yourself better each and every day you train , getting away from your norm and doing something different its time you left the ‘ Machine mentality’ be it cardio or strength. Find your local Crossfit or functional training gym. Think barbells, prowlers, bumper plates, pull up bars and rings. Take a class you can thank me later ;)!

The video is split into 3 sections from getting your body to tolerate the Change, to Playing with your breathing technique its all below, enjoy.

[youtube width=”450″ height=”360″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaVmvEz_JXk[/youtube]

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