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Old 09-07-2011, 08:29 PM   #2721
Justin Arnold
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My simpleton understanding of it is that it comes down to red blood cell count.

Training with a gas-mask "should" help raise the count.. but most people won't restrict oxygen for day-to-day living (as would happen if you lived at altitude) so the effect is reduced dramatically.
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Old 09-07-2011, 08:33 PM   #2722
Matt Thomas
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Ah. So the effect is the same/similar, but you'd have to walk around with a gas mask all day for it to work?
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Old 09-07-2011, 08:41 PM   #2723
Justin Arnold
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I doubt a gas-mask would restrict breathing enough for day-to-day activities to matter anyway.

so crossfitters should just live and train in hypobaric chambers.
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Old 09-07-2011, 08:58 PM   #2724
Andrew Wilson
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I'm glad you brought this up because it reminds me of this Jack Daniels (the phd in exphys, Cortland coach, and olympic medalist, JD) interview I was listening to a few months ago. If I remember correctly, he owns a training facility at Flagstaff that is well over 7,000 ft in elevation and he has done extensive research with the runners he's trained over the decades with how the effect of training within the elevation has physiology changed within the sportsman and their training results. Surprisingly he said it made no difference. Reason being that because the sportsman had not been physiologically prepared to handle the altitude conditions, and took sometime for them to adapt, the quality of their training actually suffered (compared to if it was performed at sea level), and did not produce any significant advantage in improving performance. He said if there were benefits of moving to the altitude training facility, it had to do more with taking the sportsman out of their dailylife, where distractions interfered with their training, and allowed them to focus better. It is of course different if the competitive event is at altitude, such as the Mexico Games, where the sportsman is not accustomed to. This applies to the gas mask; using it is actually hinders the quality of the session, unless the job itself requires using a gas mask. Within regards to the daily life, absolutely correct, perfect example would be Sherpas and Kenyan sportsman, among generations of genetics.
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Old 09-07-2011, 09:29 PM   #2725
Shane Skowron
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Thomas View Post
Sorry to digress guys, but I would like to learn something.

Regarding the gas masks, yes they look stupid, but honestly I can understand the thought process behind it so I would like to know why the science doesn't work the way the logic does.

I imagine the thinking is along the lines that if you give your body less oxygen during exertion it will learn how to make do with less, which will teach it how to operate more efficiently. Then, when you workout and there's no barrier to your oxygen intake your performance will be that much before. I guess along the same lines as altitude training.

I know this is not how it works and I have read that it doesn't work many time, but I still am not sure why. Can someone explain?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin Arnold View Post
My simpleton understanding of it is that it comes down to red blood cell count.

Training with a gas-mask "should" help raise the count.. but most people won't restrict oxygen for day-to-day living (as would happen if you lived at altitude) so the effect is reduced dramatically.
No, actually gas mask training does not simulate altitude training. Doesn't matter if you wear it all the time or for a 10 minute workout.

When you are at a high altitude, the pressure of air decreases. At sea level, the air pressure is 1.0 atm. At 18,000 feet, the air pressure is 0.5 atm. It decreases at the same rate as you go higher.
But what's important is that even though the air pressure changes, there's still 21% of oxygen in the air at all times (except when you basically leave the atmosphere).
So when you are at altitude, your body still processes O2 and CO2 the same way, but the problem is that there's not enough atmospheric pressure to pump the oxygen into your blood vessels. So no matter how hard you breathe, you're still going to only be able to get a certain amount of oxygen at one time. Breathe too hard and you'll hyperventilate.
If you train at altitude you can stimulate your body to produce more blood cells so that it can temporarily store more oxygen.



Now with a gas mask, it's not the same. The air pressure does not change externally, but the difficulty of breathing in that same amount of pressure does change. Not only that, but when you exhale, where does all that carbon dioxide go? Hopefully the gas mask will release it, but there's no guarantee that it will release it at the same rate as if you were to exhale normally. So in other words there's a strong possibility that oxygen will no longer be 21% of the gas in the air you're breathing. Likely scenario: you inhale too much CO2 from the build-up in your gas mask and pass out.

So what you're doing with gas mask training is making the lungs work harder. People who support gas mask training (only people I've heard of are Crossfitters and MMA fighters) say that this helps build lung capacity since the diaphragm has to work harder. Okay -- that's fine. But increased lung capacity does not prevent AMS. It doesn't improve your Vo2Max. I'm not even sure what the point of it is. The people with the highest lung capacities are rowers because a) they are tall and have huge lungs and b) because they are cardiovascular athletes.

There are certain gas masks that will actually decrease the pressure of the air as it passes it to you. They need a regulator/depressurizing mechanism. And they're not cheap -- they'll run a couple hundred bucks.

So:
- if you want the ability to blow harder -- wear a gas mask.
- if you want to produce more RBC, ability to perform at altitude and avoid AMS -- train/sleep at altitude or use hyperbaric chamber or regulator mask.
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Old 09-07-2011, 09:49 PM   #2726
Shane Skowron
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Another thing I should add.

In sports like running and rowing, your cardiovascular indicators (RBC count, VO2 max, lactate threshold, etc) are pretty important. In Crossfit, I'm not convinced they're that important except for maybe a select few (I'm thinking of Chris Spealler).
The reason is that in most workouts in Crossfit, you are either limited by your strength or your local muscular endurance. Improve both of those and 95% of the time your Crossfit performance will improve with no changes in cardiovascular endurance.

Now if you have a respectable strength level and local muscular endurance level, only then does it become time for one to start training to improve cardiovascular endurance to improve Crossfit times. In other words if you are trying to do some metcon with 100 pushups and 45 deadlifts 275# and you don't have the strength/muscular endurance to do both very quickly -- more cardiovascular endurance isn't going to help.
It's only the people like Chris Spealler, Josh Bridges, etc who can do things like 100 pushups+pullups+situps+squats in a row with no breaks where your cardiovascular ability comes into play there.
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Old 09-08-2011, 06:30 AM
Justin Z. Smith
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Old 09-08-2011, 06:48 AM   #2727
Steve Shafley
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Nice. I'm tired of explaining to people why training with gas masks and snorkels and shit like that doesn't really do anything.

I really don't anymore.

Most (almost all) people don't need to be any stronger on inspiration or expiration. I did know a cyclist who insisted that a bunch of yogic stretching for his ribcage improved his lung capacity by letting him take bigger breathes, but, once again, too many factors at play.

Andrew has a great point. Wearing something that restricts your breathing is a great way to sub-optimize your session.

Now, if you are a firefighter or someone who wears a gas mask or respirator under strenuous conditions, getting acclimated to that particular stress is not a bad idea. I used to wear a full faced respirator during some operations at the chemical company where I worked, and if it was vigorous activity, it got hot and uncomfortable.

I had an Ukrainian woman I worked with who insisted that she'd seen research in the Ukraine that extensive respirator work caused issues with people with heard disease.
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Old 09-08-2011, 06:49 AM   #2728
Steve Shafley
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SHANE! When did you get so smart? Hahahaha. Nice!
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Old 09-08-2011, 10:03 AM   #2729
Andrew Wilson
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shane Skowron View Post
- if you want to produce more RBC, ability to perform at altitude and avoid AMS -- train/sleep at altitude or use hyperbaric chamber
I heard exactly this. I can't remember where, I think was from the supertraining yahoo group.
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Old 09-08-2011, 10:10 AM   #2730
Donald Lee
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Altitude training and training with a snorkel was talked about a few times in the 8weeksout forum.

Quote:
Re: Conditioning for high altitude at sea level

Unread postby lylemcd Wed Feb 17, 2010 10:26 pm
Not only would that not help, it would probably hurt. There are a few high-tech ways to mimick altitude but you won't have access to them unless you have a lot of cash. And the better approach generally is to live at altitude and train at sea level (so that training intensity doesn't suffer) Ideally, get to Denver 3 weeks before the match b/c it takes that long to accomadate even partially to altitude. If you can't do that, you're just going to have to suck wind.
Quote:
Re: Excellent Article

Postby Joel Thu Oct 30, 2008 11:55 am
I'll read through this article, but generally speaking living high and training low has been shown to have some benefits, but simply training high isn't going to do anything beneficial for you unless you are actually competing at altitude. The whole thing with the snorkel would have no effects as far as increasing red blood cell count or any of the those types of altitude adaptations, the only thing I could possibly see is maybe the restricted breathing would train the breathing muscles to be stronger but I'd have to look more at the research to see if that is possible or not. You have to remember though that the breathing muscles can be oxidative or glycolytic as well and just blindly training them at high heart rates would tend to make them more glycolytic not oxidative like you'd want in a sport like MMA.

I'll post a very interesting article when I can find it that discusses the role of the respiratory muscles in energy production. It's estimated they can contribute as much as 15% of the power output. I'll see if I can find it and post it in here.
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