THE TRAINING MASK

I’ve mentioned the mask before.  It’s one of the tools in my utility belt (right next to my shark repellent) that helps me to fight CF.  Soooo, what I want to do in this bloooog is explain why I like it.  I will go through and list WHY I use it, WHAT I use it for, HOW I use it, WHEN I use it, WHERE I use it, when I DO NOT use it, and THE RESULTS of using it.

1. WHY I USE IT – I am always looking for ways to challenge myself.  I find that the more I challenge myself, the better I do with CF.  This was kind of a hidden gem that I discovered one day.  I saw it when I was at a Dick’s Sporting Goods and thought to myself, “Wow.  I think this thing can work for me.”  It only made sense when I saw the training mask and thought about it.  I thought about how this can challenge my lungs after looking at it and seeing how it restricts air flow.  Obviously I didn’t start using it by putting on its highest setting and totally suffocating myself……I mean, there’s challenging myself, and then there’s just plain foolishness.  It’s very easy to be foolish with this, and I’ll explain how in the “when I do not use it” section.  I’ve been using the training mask for at least a year, and I can say that the challenge it presents really works for me.  That’s the thing…..yes, it may be a fad, but it works for me.

2. WHAT I USE IT FOR– I use the mask in the safest way that I know: for cardio.  To say “cardio” is using a very broad term, so let me break that down.  I use it on simple cardio exercises, for distance/endurance exercises, and for H.I.I.T./interval training.  This will include things like the jump rope, jumping jacks, burpees, kettlebell swings, box jumps, battle ropes, squat jumps, jumping knee tucks, walking lunges with no weights, 2 mile runs, 1 mile runs, elliptical machines, the stationary bike, the treadmill.  All of these things are in the mix and I use different things based on what program I am doing at the time.  As I am writing this bloooog, my current program includes one 2 mile run with the mask on.  I’ll be doing this once a week for at least 2 more months.  Maybe some day down the road I will program a sprinterval with the mask on.  Who knows.  It just depends on what I’m doing and what I want.  The point is that I keep the mask to cardio things only.

3. HOW I USE IT – The best way to use it is by taking deep breaths.  It took me some time to understand this, but taking deep breaths is how it really works for me.  Trying to take short breaths in order to catch my breath doesn’t seem to work as well.  I feel that the key is for the longer and deeper breaths.  That’s the key. Actually, the more I use it, I realize that I can’t HELP but take deep breaths. I think it was designed that way.  Again, this is not saying that I am suffocating myself.  Here’s how I kept from doing that: there are different difficulty settings to choose from.  When I started, I took the setting to its absolute lowest level…..so low it felt like I didn’t even have it on.  It was very easy to use.  Over time, when I got comfortable with it, I would move up the difficulty setting.  I took things very slowly.  That way, your working to your own breathing pace.

4. WHEN I USE IT – One word: sparingly.  I don’t use it all the time.  Right now, I use it only one day per week.  The most I will use it is twice per week, but I don’t know when I’ll do that again.  Once is fine for me at this point. There are times when I will take a break from it for 6 months…maybe longer. Like I said earlier, it just depends on what I am doing and if it can factor in at the time for the goals I want to accomplish. This is but one tool in a utility belt of many.

5. WHERE I USE IT – I’ll basically use it anywhere: when I run down the country road that I live on, if I’m working out in my home gym, if I’m working out at a public gym.  It doesn’t really matter where I am.

6. DO NOT USE – There are times when I definitely do not use the training mask.  I never use it when I am strength training.  Squats, deadlifts, bench press, overhead press……..NO.  That is way too dangerous.  I want all the oxygen I can get when I am weight training.  I don’t want to put myself in a compromising situation where there’s a chance of passing out or something and having all that weight fall on me.  Also, I will never wear the training mask when I am sleeping.  I’ve read instances of people putting the mask on before they go to bed and then sleeping with it on through the night.  I don’t understand that at all.

7. THE RESULTS OF USING IT – I cannot deny the results.  My lung function has only gone up since using the training mask.  I’m a big supporter of “if it don’t work, then don’t use it no more” and I would’ve happily trashed the mask if my PFT numbers didn’t go up, but they did go up….significantly.  I can say that I’m glad for using it and won’t stop.  It is only helping my lungs to get better.  Something else I can say (without the gross details) is that the mask has been more productive than when I do my aerosol treatments.  Those with CF know what I’m talking about.

Is the mask for you?  I can’t answer that for you.  It’s something you need to try to decide for yourself.  I believe it’s not a MUST, but I do believe it can help your lungs.  If you like it, that’s great.  If you hate it and think it’s stupid, that’s great too.  I have never once believed that it is a high-altitude simulator.  It’s not an “elevation mask,” in my opinion.  I see it as something to give your lungs some “resistance” when exercising.  Is the training mask a fad?  Sure, I guess……but here’s the thing: it works for me.

If this bloooog helps or encourages you, then please feel free to “like” this post and “share” it as well.  Any comments you would like to add to the conversation is appreciated.  Until next time,

STAY TUNED

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