Recently I have seen the number of people using O2 masks for training increase a lot. Many of than just use the mask and do the same traditional training as before. I don't believe this is the way to train with an O2 mask.

I usually train for 1 hour; if I used a mask, I would get tired after 30 minutes (instead of an hour), because I'm focusing on my cardiovascular fitness and not my muscles.

I believe there is a protocol for training with this kind of equipment. Also I would like know if this mask works to increase my conditioning.

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3 Answers 3


This sort of product will fail to achieve any short term or long term benefits over regular training. In fact, some results show that it can hinder performance.

People believe these sorts of products can increase their red blood cell count by reducing oxygen levels, similar to the way training at altitude can increase red blood cell count.

The problem is that the body doesn't work that way. Red blood cell count only increases after about 3 days of continuous training in an oxygen deprived environment. When you're using these face masks, you're putting them on for an hour or two a day, and then going back to breathing normal air. Doing that will prevent the body from increasing red blood cell count. It has to be on continuously through the week, which is very impractical if not impossible.

Studies have been done on these devices. The people who wore them for an hour or two per workout, 3 times a week, saw no benefits whatsoever and no increase in red blood cell count compared with a control group doing the same workouts.

The following web site does a pretty good job of debunking it:


Hope that helps!

  • I read this device can't reduce the oxygen level. To reduce the oxygen level it is necessary a machine. This device just reduce the amount of air that you can breathe. This will create a enforce to breathe.
    – AFetter
    Jan 20, 2016 at 0:38
  • 1
    @AFetter Correct me if I'm wrong, but reducing the amount of air you breathe should reduce the amount of oxygen you breathe by the same factor. Right? Regardless of how it works, the device fails to present any benefit to the user. Jan 20, 2016 at 3:00
  • The 02 mask reduce the amount of air you can breathe each time, but like you said before to increase to produce red blood cell you need to reduce the % of oxygen in the air (like in high altitude). This device will increase the number of breath per minute.
    – AFetter
    Jan 20, 2016 at 3:07
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    You can take more breaths per minute to compensate for the reduced amount of air in any one breath, sure. That way you might get the same amount of oxygen per minute as you did without the mask. But very quickly you'll reach a limit on how many breaths you can take per minute, and you'll go into an anaerobic mode. If you want to be in an anaerobic state, you can accomplish that a number of ways, including by wearing weights and wrestling bigger guys. At least then you're doing something useful. This mask alone? It does nothing for you. What do you think you are accomplishing? Jan 20, 2016 at 4:01
  • To be technical, RBC's don't increase in 3 days, but they do start undergoing structural changes. EPO production increases within 3 days, but it can take roughly 7-14 days before RBC volume changes significantly.
    – JohnP
    Nov 19, 2019 at 13:39

Don't. Train your skills in class normally, without the mask. Train your conditioning outside of class, by running and sprinting or whatever. Train your strength in the gym by progressively lifting heavier weights using compound movements.

The mask is an unproven fad that, even if it does work, would seem to have an effect that is better achieved through trying harder during calisthenic circuits for metabolic conditioning.

  • I wasn't talk about training the technique with the mask. Of course to learn technique is much better fresh and relaxed.
    – AFetter
    Jan 21, 2016 at 0:40

Going against the grain, I can see some value in training with the mask in order to simulate situations where your breathing could be impaired but you can't otherwise reasonably simulate it. While you could say train with a mouthguard in to get practice in breathing properly when using one, you need some sort of surrogate to simulate something like a bloody/broken nose.

But that is a pretty narrow need and could probably be simulated well enough with a cotton ball up your nose.

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