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Taylor P. Monaghan, John H. Sellers, Bert H. Jacobson FACSM, Jessica A. Schnaiter, Garrett M. Hester, & Zach K. Pope. Health & Human Performance, Oklahoma State University, Oklahoma; e-mail: taylor.monaghan@okstate.edu

Exercise training at altitude is a well-established and commonly used method for increasing aerobic performance with endurance athletes. Currently, the military requires personal to be deployed into high altitude situations without sufficient time to acclimatize. This can result in altitude sickness and a decrease in performance, which in turn increases the risk of injury during an assignment. To reduce the detriments in performance due to altitude, hypoxic training during physical training (PT) may be an option. An economical solution could be to implement a commercially available ventilatory training mask during their PT sessions. Such a mask essentially causes breathing to become more difficult while creating slightly hypoxic conditions, thus roughly simulating altitude. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to observe the effects on aerobic performance after using the ventilatory training mask during PT for a 6 week period. METHODS: Nineteen ROTC cadets (age 19.47 ± 1.22 y, weight 73.2 ± 9.94 kg, height 174.79 ± 6.5 cm, body fat 7.85 ± 2.9%) from a Midwest university completed pre- and post-assessments consisting of anthropometry and a maximal aerobic capacity treadmill ergometer test. Participants underwent a six week intervention training program consisting of their ROTC mandatory PT sessions. The experimental (MASK; n = 9) and control (CON; n = 8) groups were randomly divided based on VO2max to create two groups of similar fitness. Ventilatory training masks were set to simulate an altitude of 2750 m. RESULTS There was no significant difference main effect between groups after the intervention period on VO2max nor Time to Exhaustion (TE), VO2max scores, F(1,15) = .598, p = .451, TE, F(1,15) = .327, p = .576 based on a repeated measures ANOVA. Although statistical significance was not reached for either group, mean VO2max for the MASK group displayed a slight increase of 1.81% and the mean VO2max CON group exhibited a marginally greater increase of 5.57% CONCLUSION: The results of the current study demonstrated that the ventilatory training masks did not yield any greater aerobic performances in ROTC cadets. We recommend further research to be conducted using other more established forms of altitude training to benefit future military operations.

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