Power Lung Vs Altitude Training

Does anyone have a strong opinion between the two? I was talking to my brother about getting the power lung and he commented that the MMA community is big into the altitude training masks. I was hoping some people hear have tried both and can comment as to the relative benefits of each device.


  • Seconded... curious about the whole hyperbaric or hypoxic training regiments and their benefits, or even sleeping in chambers... cost/benefit analysis.


    Ordered a ghetto-version of the PowerLung trainer off eBay a week ago... we'll see how that goes.

  • I use the power lung (trainer model, low setting level for both inhale/exhale) for diaphragm breathing practice/control, and think it is helpful for hrv training.


    I have done gas mask training, previously, just as an endurance test a few times, and think it is a pretty insane way to approach fitness. 


    I don't have a strong opinion on either, other than gas mask training is not a lot of fun. I am not sure how you would use a power lung during exercise (it would be too easy to cheat), so I am thinking they are somewhat complimentary.

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  • Ben Greenfield interviewed someone about breathing..... I think he wrote a book "running on air" and this

    Hypoxia, Resisted & Restricted Breathing

    Pick up a straw. Breathe in and out through the straw. That’s resisted breathing. Consider it to be weight training for your lungs.

    Now go for a swim. Experience what happens when you breathe every 5 or 7 strokes instead of every 1 or 2 strokes. That’s restricted breathing, which sends a clear message to your body that oxygen molecules are few and far between.

    Finally, go climb a mountain or crawl into an altitude tent. That’s hypoxic training, in which the air is truly thinner and you’re actually pulling less oxygen into your body.

    Resisted breathing enhances your endurance by strengthening your inspiratory and expiratory muscles, which increases your ventilatory capacity (your lung size). Hypoxic training not only strengthens those same respiratory muscles, but also results in:

    -improvements in oxygen uptake, transport and utilization.

    -production of neuroendocrine hormones that can have an anabolic training effect.

    -improvements in immune system strength.

    -increased activities of antioxidant enzymes in the brain, liver, heart and other organs (assuming you don’t overdo it, in which case you actually get suppression of normal antioxidant processes).

    -as you’d probably guess, increased production of red blood cells, resulting in an increased oxygen carrying capacity of the blood.

    Finally, restricted breathing actually gives you a bit of the benefits of both resisted and hypoxic training (8).

    Before I give you some practical recommendations to implement resisted breathing, restricted breathing and hypoxic training, let’s get something straight: many resisted breathing devices are marketed as hypoxic training devices, but are not simulating altitude at all and do not result in any hypoxic adaptations.

    Take, for example, altitude training masks, which seem to have become rather popular of late.

    Most of these masks, which look like a Swat team gas mask or the Batman villain Bane, cannot (despite some manufacturer claims) actually change the atmospheric pressure that you’re training in. They must be designed as Intermittent Hypoxic Training (IHT) devices to accomplish this, and most are not. Fact is, when you’re charging down the treadmill sporting your scary-looking altitude training mask, you’re still breathing air that is approximately 21% oxygen, with the same partial pressure of oxygen as whatever altitude you happen to be at. Most masks are simply restricting your breathing by covering up your mouth and nose. These masks can certainly be effective for improving ventilatory capacity, but don’t result in the same physiological adaptations as true hypoxic training (5).

    In contrast, true altitude training would require driving your car to the top of a high mountain, getting out, and going for a run; sleeping in an altitude training tent from a company such as Hypoxico; using Intermittent Hypoxic Training (IHT) sessions to expose the body to periods of hypoxia (9-14% oxygen) inhaled through a mask; or moving to live and train in a place like Colorado.

    It is in these true altitude situations that your body doesn’t get as much oxygen, makes more hemoglobin to shuttle oxygen to your muscles, and experiences many of the other favorable hormonal and immune system adaptations to hypoxia. Of course, simulating altitude or training at true altitude can be a logistical nightmare that turns into a time-suck if you don’t actually live up in the mountains or have a spouse or significant who finds an altitude tent a romantic bedtime setting. Probably the most practical and implementable method currently on the market is the type of true altitude mask I mentioned earlier, which you can find in a home model through Hypoxico.

    So from a practical perspective, most of us are limited to resisted breathing or restricted breathing – both of which can have significant training benefits with relatively less stress than altitude training. Here are some practical ways you can utilize these methods:

    -Swim Restricted Breathing Sets: Instead of breathing every 1 or 2 strokes, breathe every 3, 5, or 7 strokes. Another favorite method of mine is to finish a swim workout by swimming 10×25 “no breather” sets, from one end of the pool to the other without breathing (9).

    -Swim Resisted Breathing Sets: Get a front-mounted Swim Snorkel, and then add a CardioCap to restrict the amount of air you get through the snorkel opening. You can wear this during both long interval sets and short sprints.

    -Wearing an “altitude training mask” (really a “resisted breathing device”) during an interval run or cycling session (12).

    -Keep a Powerlung resisted breathing device in your car or at home and use it frequently throughout the week.

    When combined with proper breathing patterns throughout your work day and a habitual deep diaphragmatic breathing pattern, these type of methods can be extremely efficient at improving your ventilatory capacity and efficiency of oxygen utilization (11).

  • I've said it before, and I'll say it again, the power lung does nothing to help you perform better except at performing while wearing the power lung. It can potentially be dangerous as well.


    If your goal is to use it to improve athletic performance, air restriction does not work the same way as less concentration of oxygen.

  • I've been using the power lung for about a week, 20 minutes a day. I got it because every year when I get my comprehensive physical the nurse makes me retake the lung expel test 2-3 times because I'm not expelling fast or completely enough.


    So far I'm convinced my lungs must be shot because even on the lowest setting on the power lung expelling is very difficult for me, and inhaling ain't much better...

  • My focus is less on using it for working out than just developing lung capacity for singing or speaking (I act). I would imagine if nothing else it helps in that it forces you to concentrate on your breathing which can be meditative

  • I've said it before, and I'll say it again, the power lung does nothing to help you perform better except at performing while wearing the power lung. It can potentially be dangerous as well.

    If your goal is to use it to improve athletic performance, air restriction does not work the same way as less concentration of oxygen.


    It says that it is supposed to strengthen your lungs and increase lung expansion volume. No?

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  • ================

    It says that it is supposed to strengthen your lungs and increase lung expansion volume. No?


    Your lungs are adequately strong for breathing. To become more efficient at oxygen utilization you need the same volume of air with less oxygen, (altitude), adding restriction to moving the volume functions completely different. Here is someone elses explanation from a review. 


    Training to improve respiration gained a great deal of attention about 30 years ago when various professional organizations in the field of exercise and sport science as well as the medical community put out a call for research on the topic. Dozens and dozens of studies were done analyzing effect of training to improve the respiratory system had on performance in aerobic and anaerobic activities. 

    Unfortunately what was found is that in 99.9% of cases, your ability to move air is not the rate limiter when it comes to performance. In short, improving your ability to move air did not, in the vast majority of cases, improve performance in any noticeable level. 

    Respiration is not, as most people assume, about the delivery of oxygen but rather the removal of CO2 and the maintenance of blood pH. Oxygen's only purpose in human metabolism is to assist in the removal of hydrogen, nothing more. The aerobic system moves at such a slow rate, that we can easily get enough oxygen to meet this demand by normal relaxed breathing in the majority of the population. 

    Furthermore, ones ability to increase airflow (Tidal volume, TV) is finite in that it is limited quite simply by the amount of space available in the chest. You can of course improve the force at which you breath in or out, but tidal volume will not increase all that much, barring any sort of degenerative disease such as TB or pulmonary edema. 

    In the vast majority of the population (99% or greater), respiration is not the factor limiting aerobic or anaerobic performance so training to improve your breathing has a very low chance of actually improving your performance. In addition, the Hering-Breurer reflex is designed to prevent over-filling of the lungs and provides a stimulus for exhalation. Training repeatedly to fill your lungs more fully can lead to a reduction in this response. This can in some cases lead to increased likelihood of damage to the alveoli causing an actual reduction in pulmonary efficiency rather than an increase. While being able to push air with enough force to blow up a water bottle is a great trick, it is not going to improve your aerobic or anaerobic performance and could possibly cause serious damage to your pulmonary system.

    Unless you have a pulmonary condition which is limiting your ability to move air efficiently, you would be much better served to work on improving your ability to utilize your various energy pathways by actually going out and training, rather than working to improve your respiration. If you DO have some sort of pulmonary condition, you should not be seeking advice on this topic on this board but should rather be working with a pulmonary expert who can safely guide you in the process.



    I would only consider using the power lung to become more efficient at breathing through a gas mask - because well - you never know when that skill may come in handy.

  • Very interesting! Curious what the name of that review is?

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