Sweet baby Jesus. Today will forever be known as the day we tried altitude mask training and were left broken, sprawled across the floor crying for our mums.
When Train Dirty invited us down to try out their signature high intensity workout, Skinny Rebel, we were super keen. Let's clear one thing up: altitude masks aren't a fad. They've been widely used for decades by professional athletes to get them performing at their best (it's called intermittent hypoxic training, if you want to be fancy).
Essentially these masks restrict your oxygen intake, which helps/punishes you in two ways. First up, your muscles are crying out for oxygen, and because there's less in your blood, they have to make captive changes as to how they use what little they have, and other energy sources. And second, it makes you realise you can't do the one thing you barely think about doing – breathing. Yup, you'll learn how to breathe deep the hard way. Errr yah, but why's that good? Overtime, it improves lung capacity, energy production, anaerobic threshold, mental focus, power output and speed.
And let's be honest: the mask makes you look and sound like Bane. And who doesn't want that? NO ONE, that's who.
The workout itself is a PT session with no more than three clients. Dean took our session. Dean is awesome. And Dean knows his shit. We were put through our paces in a brutal 45 minute full body conditioning workout, which was largely based on plyometrics. It got every little stabiliser muscle burning, and we'd say we're pretty fit, but this was another level.
We did supersets of all kinds of moves, from bear crawls and burpees to treadmill mountain climbers. And I guess this is where we should fess up and say we couldn't wear the mask for the whole session. Not even a quarter. It RUINED us.
Beforehand, we were a little skeptical as we'd heard people raving that it burns around 1,000 calories in 45 mins, and that sounded a little 'faddy' to us (we see burning calories as a by-product of getting stronger, leaner, fitter, or whatever your goals are). Don't be put off by this – altitude training is based on science. All we know is that we had nothing left to give, and we're certain our fitness levels would improve with more sessions. Plus it meant we could eat the ENTIRE WORLD for the rest of the day (not that we ever need an excuse).
If you do try this out, savour the moment you walk into the beautiful 5* Conrad Hotel and are greeted by its luxurious fragrance. Because you're about to have your ass whipped, and it ain't gonna be pretty.
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