In the realm of highly competitive sports, athletes are constantly looking for that product or exercise which will give them nough of an edge to beat their opponents. Even people who are not training to be top of the field athletes often seek something that will either improve their personal best or provide an additional challenge.
Best training masks can satisfy both groups and both goals. Originally derived from a defunct theory of emulating high altitude training, training masks nevertheless can provide a solid workout for the muscles responsible for respiration. Still, with the rise of popularity, the market is now flush with training masks.
Best Training Masks 2018
That is why we have to put together a list of the 5 best training masks, highlighting what makes one better for a certain task than another. Then we provide a helpful buyer’s guide, so you can find the right training mask that is best suited for you.
Training Mask 2.0
|6||Neoprene||Medical Grade Silicone||3|
Lykoss Training Mask
|8||Nylon||Medical Grade Silicone||1|
Opard Workout Mask 3.0
|4||Polyester/Spandex||Medical Grade Silicone||3|
1. Training Mask 2.0 – Best Performing (Editor’s Choice)
Training Mask is the original brand that got the whole trend started in the first place. With their masks gracing the faces of professional athletes from such diverse backgrounds as football, marathon runners or tour de france racers, this brand’s high profile can be found all over the place if you are looking for it and observant.
As the original, the Training Mask 2.0 possibly has the most scientifically backed construction, but it also has the disadvantage of competitors being able to improve on its design. In that case, the Training Mask 2.0 does not provide the maximum benefit for any of the general categories, but it manages to provide an exceptional quality for all of them, so it is ultimately the best performing training mask we reviewed.
The training mask comes in three different sizes that are appropriate for both men and women. Unlike other masks, the Training Mask 2.0 does not size its masks in terms of your body weight but instead relies on a more precise measurement regarding the size of your nose and mouth. This leads to more precise fit and tight seal. While it does not offer the most variation in terms of resistance levels and does not provide the highest level of it, the Training Mask 2.0 does perform admirably with six different resistance settings in total.
- Made from medical grade materials
- Comes in three different sizes
- 6 different resistance settings
- Somewhat difficult to adjust
- More difficult to clean than others
- One of the most expensive training masks
2. Aduro Sport Workout Training Mask – Most Convenient
Aduro is definitely a surprising brand to see on our list. This is primarily because the company broadly specializes in manufacturing accessories intended for electronics but focuses far more on accessories for smartphones and other smart devices.
When you consider that this is definitely a niche item in their general product lineup, it is even more surprising that Aduro is also the only other product we reviewed that only uses medical grade materials. Like the Training Mask 2.0, the Aduro’s mask is made out of hypoallergenic medical grade silicone while the sleeve is made out of neoprene.
But that is generally where the comparisons end. For one, the Aduro training mask has issues all over the place with how it fits. Second, the strap is designed as a one-size-fits-all. The only problem is that it often becomes more of one-size-fits-few. Only because the bottom strap is adjustable, many people find that the top strap does not fit snugly atop their head.
While this might otherwise only to be a minor annoyance, it becomes a genuine issue with the mask. The mask has been known to not provide as a tight a seal as other training masks. A deeper look shows that the mask often display more problems with this issue around the nose. Reverse engineering these aspects, it is not hard to see that when the top strap does not sit tight on the wearer’s head, the corresponding part of the mask is prone to leaning forward a bit.
- Easy to change the resistance settings
- One of the most durable masks we reviewed
- Relatively easy to take apart and clean
- Only comes in a single size
- Does not keep as tight a seal as others
- Only offers four levels of resistance
3. Training Mask By Lykoss – Highest Resistance
Little is known about the Lykoss brand, though this is in a large part due to its relatively recent appearance. Unlike some of the other brands on our list, Lykoss has not been manufacturing training masks that long. Another difference is that the Lykoss brand only makes a single product: this training mask.
With what might otherwise be seen as a flaw, Lykoss has turned its slightly humble origins as a strength. For one, without other products to compete with for their research and development, Lykoss is free to focus exclusively on manufacturing the best product they can. Since they waited a bit longer to get in the market, Lykoss was able to identify areas in which they might separate themselves from the competition and provide one or two features that is different or superior to other training masks on the market.
- Easy to change the resistance settings
- 8 different settings
- Has the highest maximum resistance setting
- Strap is not as water resistant as others
- Only comes in a single size
- Do not fit smaller people
4. SPARTHOS Workout Mask – Best Rehabilitation
SPARTHOS is a brand that focuses primarily on the rehabilitation process for both athletes and general exercise enthusiasts alike. While they do not manufacture a wide range of products, this products are almost exclusively geared towards the rehab market.
In fact, the SPARTHOS workout mask is the only product that breaks from this trend though, you could conceivably use this product as a way to increase the lung capacity of an individual who suffered from a diminishment of such.
So, it makes sense that the SPARTHOS workout mask would provide the maximum number of potential resistance settings. By offering a wider range of settings, the SPARTHOS workout mask is better suited for those people looking to rehabilitate their diaphragm strength.
This is because the path to rehabilitation is made from a series of small steps, not large leaps. Whereas people with stronger breathing can afford to skip resistance stages by 4,000 feet or more, those recovering might need to increase their resistance by 2,000 or so.
- Features 16 different settings
- Fit stays tight even with sweat
- Easy to change the resistance settings
- Materials are not disclosed
- Does not come in a true small size
- Regularly is not in stock
5. Opard Workout Mask 3.0 – Best Budget
Unlike the other brands on our list, Opard does not specialize in training masks or workout equipment at all. In fact, the company seems to be more focused on manufacturing whatever product happens to be trending now. While this definitively serves the company in providing the most desired products to their consumers, it means that there is less of stress on making sure that each product is of the best quality.
This is not to suggest that the Opard Workout Mask 3.0 is a poor training mask, but it definitely does not compete at the same level as the other training masks we reviewed. In fact, the one area where the Opard is superior to the other options we looked at is price. This is the least expensive training mask on our list. There are few glaring issues with this mask, so if you are looking to get a decent mask at a lower cost, this is definitely a product to check out.
The strap is made out of a polyester and spandex blend. While the first part of that equation is exceedingly common and generally not an issue, the spandex is not so benign. Keep in mind, the material itself is not allergenic, but the chemicals used when making spandex are known to cause allergic reaction in some people.
- Easy to change resistance settings
- Comes in 3 different sizes
- Mask is made of medical grade silicone
- The top head strap does not fit tightly and the mask itself can slip off when sweaty
- Offers only four different settings
- The spandex in the strap can cause allergic reactions
Best Training Masks – Buyer’s Guide
What is the Best Training Mask?
A training mask is a device used in the course of workouts to restrict air intake to increase the workload your body must do. The mask is placed over the nose and mouth where filters limit the amount and regularity of airflow. The mask itself is held in place with a strap that goes behind your head and occasionally uses a secondary strap to go over the top of your head for additional stability.
Training masks will generally make use of a two-way filtration system. First, the mask will use multiple valve caps, each with differing sized openings to provide resistance to your airflow. Second, these caps are reinforced with flux valves that are the components actually responsible for restricting airflow.
How does a Training Mask work?
In the course of restricting air flow intake, the training mask force your lungs to pull harder to get the same amount of air that is used to during normal workout circumstances. While the effects are not the same as high altitude training, low altitude air restriction does still provide an observable effect.
Primarily, the training mask engages in RMT, respiratory muscle training. This is where the resistance of the mask forces the diaphragm and intercostal muscles to exert themselves more to pull air through the filter. Like working out with weights or other strength training exercises, a training mask will ultimately increase the strength of your diaphragm and intercostal muscles.
When engaging in your activity of choice without the mask, you will notice that it is easier to breathe and you can take larger, quicker breaths due to the diaphragm and intercostals being stronger. While the blood concentration remain unchanged providing no metabolic advantage, you will notice an increase in your endurance due to the breathing muscles adapting to higher resistance.
Another benefit of the training mask is that it helps retrain you how to breathe properly. This may seem like an odd concept considering you have gotten this far in life breathing without any training. Like with most physical activity, breathing has a proper “form” it should take for optimal results. Of course, without specialized training, there is no environmental impetus that inherently trains us to breathe properly.
This lack of training shows itself most prominently when our bodies are placed under stress like during peak physical activity. In this case, we fall to default breathing rhythm where we take shorter, shallower breaths. This improper form reduces the amount of time our lungs can absorb oxygen and perspire carbon dioxide, decreasing the oxygen concentration in our blood throughout our body.
Instead, when using a training mask, you must inherently take slower, deeper breaths because of the filters’ resistance. Likewise, the decreased rate of inhalation also encourages you to breathe in through your nose, rather than your mouth. Assuming you have no issues with your septum or other points of sinus breathing pathways, this is actually the ideal form for breathing while engaging in strenuous physical activity.
What is a Training Mask For?
It is important to understand that the benefits of a training mask are not designed for every type of strenuous physical activity. Just because you end up sweaty and out of breath at the end of the workout does not necessarily mean that a training mask will improve your performance in the future. Besides, using a training mask in the wrong situation can actually have negative consequences.
Training masks are designed to be used with endurance. This means that you are engaging in a low exertion activity for an extended period of time. Running, biking, and other cardio workouts fit into this category. With these workouts, your oxygen requirements increase at a regular, consistent rate throughout the workout. In this way, the training mask can also provide a consistent, regular resistance to your breathing.
Besides, strength training and other types of workouts that rely on bursts of high resistance activity follow this model. These types of workouts see your needs for oxygen levels fluctuate from great to less with each burst.
Because these bursts require more oxygen than normal, the training mask could potentially leave you in a position where you do not have enough oxygen to competently perform the task. As such, you are at a greater risk of getting light headed or even passing out when wearing a training mask while strength training. Due to the potential involvement of weight and other pieces of equipment, this can actually be dangerous and is not advised.
What a Training Mask does not do.
A training mask does not actually simulate the experience and effects of training at higher altitudes. When you train at a higher altitude, you do simply not have to work harder to breathe though that is one of the results. Training at a higher altitude forces your body to adapt at the metabolic and molecular level.
This is because air at higher altitudes is less dense and has a lower oxygen content. But, this does not mean that you are breathing in less air or that it is more difficult to take a breath, like when breathing against isometric resistance. Instead, you breathing just as much air as you otherwise would; it simply is not as rich in oxygen.
At higher altitudes, this forces your body to respond in a couple ways. For one, your body often develop higher concentrations of red blood cells so that it can better deliver the oxygen it receive. Also, the hemoglobin content of the blood cells will increase, allowing each blood cell to carry more oxygen than it otherwise would.
Eventually, this ends up translating to more oxygen-rich blood stream when an athlete who trained at a higher altitude returns to sea level or there thereabouts. This process is not replicated by training masks. Training masks neither alter the barometric pressure nor do they change the density and concentration of oxygen in the air that you breathe.
When purchasing and using a training mask, it is important to understand that you will not receive the metabolic and molecular benefits of training at a higher elevation this is something which has been demonstrated in controlled laboratory studies.
Still, this does not mean that there is no benefit to training with a training mask, but be wary of any brand that markets itself as providing the benefits of high altitude training. Either the brand does not understand the science involved which would highlight a lack of expertise or they do and are simply engaging in misleading advertising.
The mask is arguably the most important part of the training mask due to the requirements necessary to restrict the flow of oxygen. The primary concerns with the mask relate to how well it fits over your nose and mouth and what material it is made out of. The first helps determine the mask’s effectiveness, while the latter will carry with it durability and allergenic factors.
First, the fit must place the mask over your nose and mouth while providing a quality seal. Because people are not identical, that is why there is a good chance that the mask may not provide a complete seal for all users. This factor is further complicated for men with facial hair. If a training mask brand has multiple sizes, it is important to observe what size category your mask fit into to ensure that you get the best seal and thus the best results.
The material used for the mask generally covers three types, each with their own distinct advantages and disadvantages. The three most common types of material used with the mask component are silicone, rubber, and latex. Keep in mind, all of these materials carry with them qualities that can provide an excellent seal, but they can affect different people in a variety of ways.
For example, many people are allergic to latex. While this is material is not often used in totality with the mask, it may be added in small concentrations to provide additional durability and flexibility to the mask. If you have a latex allergy and find the mask causes your face to itch, makes breathing more difficult even when unrested, or leaves long lasting red hives even hours after working out with the mask, you should likely seek an alternative mask.
Medical grade silicone is the best mask to use if you have allergies to either latex or rubber. Of course, while medical grade silicone may provide relief for allergy sufferers, it is not without its faults. Specifically, medical grade silicone is not as durable as rubber or latex. While it is not suffer from physical distortion or tearing, it is more likely to suffer from damp or otherwise wet conditions over the long term. If your mask is medical grade silicone, always dry it is as soon as you wash it.
Training masks are here to stay, and while they may not provide the same benefits as high altitude training, also they have their merits. Still, available brands seek to differentiate themselves from their competitors is subtle ways. This ultimately provides a basis for one consumer to identify a training mask that appeal to them better than the others.
In terms of overall functioning and the broadest appeal, the Training Mask 2.0 by the eponymous TrainingMask brand is best on our list. Made with medical grade materials for both the sleeve and mask, this hypoallergenic training mask provides a robust challenge without risk some other masks carry.
Of course, if you seek the absolute toughest challenge available, then the relatively new Lykoss is liable to be right up your alley. With eight different resistance settings that go all the way to a simulated 20,000 feet of altitude, this training mask is also easy to adjust from one difficulty setting to the next.