Oxygen Deprivation Masks
These masks and mouth pieces have become a trendy thing in gyms around the country. This is an incredibly non-intelligent and dangerous thing. Disrupting your body’s air supply puts a hindrance on your body’s performance. In truth, what you’re actually doing is directing your energy system’s mode of operation towards the anaerobic, which isn’t exactly something that’s challenging to do under normal training circumstances. You could equally use weights, tourniquets on your limbs, become extremely overweight, or just run faster to achieve the same result.
It’s this simple: lack of oxygenation stimulates a hormone called erythropoietin. Erythropoietin, or EPO, is a substance produced by the kidneys to help maintain hemostasis with respect to red blood cell count. In any state of hypoxic stress, the kidneys will detect the low oxygen state and ramp up EPO production, which in turn (in a healthy patient) increases blood cell production and the oxygen carrying capacity of blood. RBC count will start to rise probably within 24-76 hours of the initiation of hypoxic stress. This in turn, stimulates more HGB. Hemoglobin (HGB) carries oxygen. Remember, the whole goal in exercise is to deliver oxygen; fuel to the working muscles. More HGB means more buses taking oxygen to where it’s needed quicker.
When exercising, your body is stressed. Depriving it of oxygen could set up a heart arrhythmia, leading to heart attack. This could be fatal. It could also cause you to black out.
Oxygen deprivation masks do not mimic altitude training. Benefits of training at altitude come in the form of changes to the hemoglobin density, which takes weeks to occur. This is why athletes live at those altitudes for an elongated period of time. You know big sponsors paying these athletes six figure checks would rather have them around doing profitable PR to promote them instead of nestling up in some mountain cabin for eight weeks.
You simply will not produce any kind of similar hemoglobin adaptations by spending your gym sessions in an impractical state of controlled suffocation.
And just because it looks really cool, doesn’t always mean it is. There is no gain, trying to look like The Dark Knight’s Bane.
Play safe. Be healthy. Stay balanced.