If someone had ever told you that you would have to one day learn how to train with a mask on your face, you would have scoffed. Sadly, with the COVID-19 pandemic growing, masks have become the rule everywhere we go: to the mall, park, work, gyms worldwide, and many more places.
If you have tried to train with a mask on your face, you have probably noticed something: it is not the most pleasant experience. As the glass is always also half-full (and not only half-empty), we will today go over the pros and cons of wearing a mask during a workout. We will also explore some face mask models that might contribute to a more pleasant training experience.
But first, what happens when you have a Mask on?
The most apparent effect of wearing a mask is that breathing becomes a bit more challenging. The airflow to your lungs is decreased, which means less oxygen enters your body. Less oxygen means that your body’s ability to produce energy in the form of ATP molecules is reduced. This leads to reduced training performance, and you become more likely to find yourself exhausted much sooner.
In essence, training with a mask on resembles altitude training to a degree because the result in both scenarios is identical: your body has less oxygen to work with. With that said, let us take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of training with a mask.
The pros and cons of training with a face mask
1. It is safer. The most obvious benefit of wearing a face mask is that you get to keep yourself safe and minimize the risk of catching germs. Ensure you use new or cleaned masks for every workout.
2. Your body will adapt. While training with a mask might seem almost impossible at first, you will get used to it after a while. The human body is incredible and is capable of adapting to many outside stressors. It might could have a positive impact over time, but it will not replace an altitude training.
3. You will not spread germs around. Even if you are not worried about germs and viruses, wearing a mask in these trying times is an incredibly selfless act. By wearing a mask, you drastically reduce the risk of spreading germs that might get others sick. Think about it, how heavy and much do you breathe when you perform your workout?
Pictures often say more than words – I found this illustration quite simple and easy to understand:
1. Your performance will suffer to a degree. The first drawback you are likely to experience is that you will not be able to train as hard and as long as you usually would. This is mostly because of the decreased airflow to your lungs.
2. You probably will not be able to do your regular workouts. If you are used to a given type of training, you might have to lower your intensity and volume for a while. For example, if you typically do around 20 working sets per workout, you might have to do no more than 15 and slowly work up back to 20 over the weeks.
3. You might sweat more. An unfortunate effect of wearing a mask is that your facial area retains more heat. This is fantastic if you are out and about in the cold winter but will not be so great if you are in a gym and are work up a sweat.
Training Masks that make the Workout Experience much better
It sounds weird when you think about it, but we need to train with a mask on for the foreseeable future. Luckily, you have got options when it comes to breathable, fitness-adjacent face masks that allow you to stay cool and comfortable while doing your workout. It is not a surprise that the top fitness brands like Adidas, Asics, and Under Armour have been leading the charge with coverings made with athletes and workout enthusiasts in mind.
To make the experience more pleasant, here are seven great masks on the market:
Reebok Face Cover
Asics Runners Face Cover
Buff Filter Mask
Under Armour Sportsmask
Adidas Face Mask
Koral Athletic Face Masks
Masksup Reusable Face Mask
You might want to buy different masks and test the best one for your face and type of workout. And always have a spare face mask with you to use after you completed your workout.
plan. travel. workout.
2020 soon is coming to an end, and with the start of a new year, hopefully, we will also be able to leave the COVID-19 experience soon behind us. There is still some way to go, and wearing a mask is a profoundly important pillar of pandemic control. Masks do work, but they are not infallible – we still need to keep the physical distance. Btw. there is an interesting paper about the minimal physical distance required for walking and running during COVID-19 times.
For now, I personally ordered the Under Armour Sportsmask, and I am curious to test the Asics soon when I found a shop to collect it from.