Training Mask Melvin Guillard

MMA Altitude Training Device Review – Legit or Hype?

Heard of Altitude Training Simulation Devices?

Lately, I’ve gotten a number of questions about various devices that you put in your mouth or wear over your mouth and/or nose that purport to simulate altitude training my fighters, customers and subscribers.

You might’ve seen people using various devices on YouTube or other places.

When I get multiple questions about something, I know it’s time to roll up my sleeves, pull out my library card and do some down and dirty research.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, they basically restrict your breathing, which is supposed to simulate training at altitude.

Various claims are made about these devices, such as:

  • Increased lung capacity
  • Improvements to something called your Anaerobic Threshold
  • More energy
  • Improvements in physical and mental endurance and mental focus… and many more.

WARNING: we’re going to get a little technical here, so if you have absolutely no desire to talk science with me, then skip to the Conclusion at the bottom of this article for the answer to the question, “Will using these devices improve my performance?”

Otherwise, into the rabbit hole we go…

The first question you should be asking here is…

“What is Altitude Training and How
Might it be Beneficial for MMA?”

To understand the science behind altitude (elevation) training, you must understand the following definitions; otherwise you’ll be lost at sea without a paddle.

High Altitude Training

[features_box_azure_blue width=”75%” + border=”2px”]

Anaerobic/Lactate Threshold
The intensity of exercise at which your body begins to accumulate lactic acid*; at this point, energy production shifts from aerobic (unlimited energy) to anaerobic energy production (very limited)

*NOTE: this is not entirely correct but I’m not going to waste time here explaining what lactic acid is and what really causes fatigue, the main concept is still the same, so if you’re a science geek getting ready to call me out, don’t bother, it won’t help you, me or anyone else reading this

VO2 Max
The max amount of oxygen your body can make use of for fuel; often used in studies as a test for aerobic fitness, although it’s not often the best indicator of actual sport performance; often expressed as either 50 ml O2/kg bodyweight/min, or 5 L O2/min, either way, HIGHER is BETTER

When the air you breathe contains less oxygen than normal

The stuff you breathe did you really have to click this one? lol; composed of about 78% nitrogen (N2) and 21% oxygen (O2) at every 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:[/features_box_azure_blue]

Now that you’ve got the basics let’s talk 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.

altitude training oxygen levels

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.

The bottom line is that…

More Red Blood Cells = More Oxygen (to feed your working muscles with)

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.

Some cool sports science history – altitude training gained huge popularity after the Olympic Games in 1968 which were held in Mexico City1.

Mexico City is 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 these devices, 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.

live low train high at altitude

So we’re going to focus on the studies that test LLTH and forget about the rest.

[For now, maybe if you’re really interested, I’ll discuss the others a future post. Let me know in the Comments if this is something you’d be interested in reading]

In a paper I found titled, “Is Hypoxia Training Good for Muscles and Exercise Performance?”  authors Michael Vogt and Hans Hoppeler from the University of Bern in Switzerland  state quite definitively:

“… A common feature of virtually all studies on “live low–train high” is that hypoxic exposure only during exercise sessions is not sufficient to induce changes in hematologic parameters. Hematocrit and hemoglobin concentrations usually remain unchanged with “live low–train high.”

“What does this mean for YOU as a Mixed Martial
Looking for Peak Performance?

So, do these devices actually increase red blood cell production and improve oxygen delivery to your working muscles as claimed?

When Vogt and Hoppeler talk about “hematocrit” and “hemoglobin”, they’re basically talking about RBCs. For your purposes, hematocrit = hemoglobin = RBCs. For each, more is better.

If you don’t know what RBCs, hematocrit or hemoglobin are, here are some definitions:

[features_box_azure_blue width=”75%” + border=”2px”]Red Blood Cells

Cells in your body that are responsible for transporting oxygen where required; the more red blood cells (RBCs) you have, the more oxygen you can transport to working muscles


Refers to the % of total blood that is made up of RBCs; more is better (to a point, if your blood gets too ‘thick’ you could die but this will never happen through training, only drugs)


The specific component of a RBC that carries the oxygen.

Let’s do an analogy – it’s kind of like if you were carrying a backpack that had your boxing gloves in them, you are the RBC and yes, you’re carrying your boxing gloves, but to be more precise, your backpack is actually carrying your gloves…

Well, your backpack is like Hemoglobin. Get it?

If not, I don’t blame you, the analogy sucked. Leave me alone – it’s late.[/features_box_azure_blue]

So Vogt and Hoppeler state that LLTH (altitude training) does NOT improve red blood cell paramaters, which means that performance does not improve either. But let’s look at some hard data, just to make sure, OK?

There are no studies on MMA specifically, so I had to search LONG and HARD to find something that would at least come close.

This took me FOREVER, because most of these altitude studies are done on endurance sport athlete such as runners, cyclists and cross-country skiers.

But lo and behold, I stumbled upon one, a moment before my eyes were about to explode from reading these cryptic journal articles all day. Scientists reading this – why can’t you write in normal English!

training mask research

How I looked and felt slaving through journal articles on my computer.

AND this is where we have today’s cliffhanger… :P

I put a lot of work into this article, as you can tell from this first half…

So if you want the Conclusion, I want to see 100 Comments letting me know that you want to see it, otherwise, into the vault it goes!

I’m 100% serious – if we don’t get at least 100 Comments, you won’t see Part II.

– Eric

P.S. I give you the straight goods about the various altitude simulation devices, so if you want to know if it will improve your performance or not plus some extra data I uncovered from an unlikely source, leave a Comment below:

 ————– PART II ————–

We quickly got 100+ Comments, so here’s Part II of the Altitude Training Simulation Devices.

Leave a Reply

217 Comments on "MMA Altitude Training Device Review – Legit or Hype?"

3 years 8 months ago

I have bought this, it feels like it works but I get to find out if it really does July 23rd whenni fight in Boston.

3 years 8 months ago

Well, I would like to know if it works myself since I have been considering buying one.

3 years 8 months ago

Please continue.

3 years 8 months ago

Lets see part two….I have been wondering about the validity of the claims of these devices

3 years 8 months ago

Cant…take it…anymore…must…get…part 2….Aaaarrrghhhh!!!

Kenny Blanton
3 years 8 months ago

Hey Eric,

I literally just woke up 10 mins ago and was checking my emails on my phone. When I saw these I knew I had to comment. The trainers at my Kickboxing gym and I have been discussing whether to get one of these or not. I trust your reviews and can’t wait to hear what you’ve come up with. Thanks for everything.

PS this my first post, that’s shows how much I need that answer. Keep up the great work warrior.

3 years 8 months ago

it would be interesting to know about the other forms of altitude training, maybe if you wore the mask to bed it would have a greater effect on your red blood cell count and would freak the hell out of your partner.

3 years 8 months ago

Part 2 please

3 years 8 months ago


david roberts
3 years 8 months ago

lame. post the results the first time. wasted ten minutes before work just to read this and get . . . . . . .nothing.

3 years 8 months ago

And …….. ? You’ve certainly baited us this time, Eric!!

3 years 8 months ago

I have already bough one…lease give us part II

3 years 8 months ago

I religously follow Erics MMA strength and conditioning programs and I never doubt my fitness, I am just interested because I have seen others at my gym use it,

3 years 8 months ago

C’mon Eric, you know that I want to know, and I am gonna keep posting seperate comments to make it to 100 if I have to!!

3 years 8 months ago

I really want to know!!

3 years 8 months ago

I want to know!!!!

Ross White
3 years 8 months ago

Hi Eric,

Another quality post from you, with some realy good info. It would be awsome to see part 2 on this subject, as was thinking about investing in this product. Anything that can potentially give you the edge over your opponent has got to be a good thing right? Would also like to see the info you got on the live high train high & the live high train low princeples.

Ross White

3 years 8 months ago

Would love to know the answer to this.
Must admit my intial reaction to seeing this mask was that it is gimmick

Virgil Tanner
3 years 8 months ago

I like when you do the science. My undergrad is in biochem, so I eat that stuff up.

The “leave 100 comments” thing sounds like Joel Marion, whose work I like. But I hate this leave-me-some-comments game. I am sure it has some business or marketing function, but it sounds a little like when middle schoolers beg for compliments or high school girls try to get all their friends to say they are pretty. I am sure that’s not what you’re doing, but fighter to fighter, it just feels a little unbecoming.

Is there another way you can accomplish the same business/marketing goal?

Peace, and thanks for your work. Yours is the only training email I read, besides occasionally the Bodyweightcoach guys. Keep up the good work.


1 year 1 month ago

I’ll hold my breath until I get 5 million dollars ! Here’s an idea, muscle-heads, close your mouth while you workout. Put earplugs in your nose, WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE? I’m amazed this has so many people champing at the bit for answers. I’ll bet someone is working on an endorsement deal before telling everyone this will make you last longer in bed. SNAKE OIL ANYONE?

3 years 8 months ago

Hey Virgil, good call, yeah I’ve seen Joel do this…

Basically, it helps Google see that people are spending time here on this site, helping it rank higher… That’s why I do it…

Plus, it’s fun to interact sometimes and get feedback about posts that are interesting, so I know what to write about further… If only 30 people left comments, I wouldn’t spend another 8 hours researching, writing and editing Part II, it’s democracy at work my friend.

3 years 8 months ago

Not Cool but reguardless I still love the mask teaches u work thur fatigue
Which happens sooner

jason griggs
3 years 8 months ago

From my personal experience I find that it does help with my cardio for mma, especially because I have major sinus problems that when i workout my sinuses block to the point where I can barely breathe through my nose at all. So i find that it does help, I will probably be proven wrong but it’s just a personal observation.
I really would like to know wether this is all in my head or if it actually does work.

3 years 8 months ago

PLEASE TELL US! I was really interested in hypoxia training when Wanderlei started it, but he got so slow. Stronger, but slower. I hope in your next article you include answers to both claims too! I was born with asthma and have overcome it somehow, so I’m curious to see if this mask can help lung capacity too. (I can’t see why not, in marching band they made us do lung exercises while marching to be able to hold long notes while marching. I played tuba, so I quite, but that’s beside the point.)

Dan De Bond
3 years 8 months ago

I’ve taken the bait. Look forward to the conclusion.

3 years 8 months ago

Hi Eric. Im not in a position to spend as I wish so I would really appreciate the other info. Thank you for sharing so much research with us. Duane. (South Africa).

3 years 8 months ago

Well don’t leave us all in suspense now…..

3 years 8 months ago

Give me the rest!

3 years 8 months ago


One of 100…. i really want to see the results… :-)

3 years 8 months ago

Nice promo…

Mark J
3 years 8 months ago

Interesting stuff Eric. So to make your page load quicker did you make it wear a mask to replicate LLTH training? Or not?! Hmm the suspense… ;)

3 years 8 months ago

Hahahahah yeah I strapped the altitude training device in front of my computer and holy shit – INSTANT results!

3 years 8 months ago

Let’s find out folks – 95 more required!

3 years 8 months ago

I like new training methods, so I hope you post the second half.

Shane "The Dane" Nielsen
3 years 8 months ago

Cant wait for the reply, been wondering about this!

3 years 8 months ago

This is a douch move dude…. come on tell us or at least tell us what articles and i will go read it my self

3 years 8 months ago

It wasn’t that bad was it?

If you watch TUF you should be used to it by now… ;)

3 years 4 months ago

Are we at 100 yet? I’m definitely interested in your findings of it.

3 years 8 months ago

omg i needed this cause i was thinking of buying it