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Tips for Exercising in a Mask

With many state and local governments enforcing mask mandates, we know some of you are still adjusting to having to cover up at the studio. Working out in a face mask can seem daunting and uncomfortable, and even make you consider skipping working out altogether. Luckily, we’ve learned a few things over the last year that we think can help. Take a look at all the mask-wearing secrets we’re spilling below and be sure to try some of these tips the next time you’re punching it out!


Choose a mask that’s made for exercising

The type of mask you choose to wear to the gym will have an impact on your overall comfort. It’s important to consider the materials your mask is made of, just like you would for any other type of athletic clothing. Cloth face masks made of polyester or nylon tend to be better for your workout compared to surgical masks, as they offer greater moisture-wicking capabilities to keep sweat at bay.

Another good tip is to find an adjustable mask you can keep nice and snug on your face, as the last thing you want to worry about is having to adjust your mask all throughout your workout.

Some of our favorite athletic face masks are:

Pro Tip: Always carry a back-up mask with you to every workout in case the first one gets too sweaty. You can swap them out after a couple of rounds to help you stay comfortable from start to finish.  


Understand your body needs to adjust

The good news is that many studies (like this one from the Mayo Clinic) have shown that wearing a mask won’t affect your ability to receive oxygen; however, they have found that wearing a mask can hinder your performance due to discomfort. This discomfort comes from having to inhale and exhale a little bit harder because face masks do block some of your airflow.

This is especially true for high-intensity interval workouts, like ours, because you’re already challenging yourself and breathing more rapidly than you would during a slower-paced workout. Luckily, your body (and, more importantly, your mind) just needs some extra time to adjust to wearing a face mask before your performance can return to normal. Most people become acclimated to wearing a face mask during exercise after about two weeks as their body learns how to breathe more comfortably, so take things slow in the beginning until you feel ready to return to your usual intensity. Eventually, you’ll hardly notice the difference between working out with or without a face mask.


Focus more on your breathing

With or without a face mask, you should be focusing on your breathing during exercise. Your body needs oxygen to move, and the more movement you’re doing, the more oxygen it needs. This means controlling your breathing can help fuel your muscles with more oxygen, which may even help improve your performance.

When you start incorporating a face mask into your workouts, it shouldn’t affect your ability to receive oxygen, but it can make it seem more difficult for you to breathe until you’re able to get used to it. That means it’s even more important to practice good breathing habits during your workout to ensure you’re getting enough oxygen to your muscles. Of course, if you ever feel dizziness or discomfort while working out with a mask, you should stop and speak with your trainer immediately.

Pro Tip: Exhale during exertion (i.e. when you lift your body up during a V-up) and inhale during relaxation (i.e. when you lower your body back down).


Keep tabs on your heart rate

Your heart rate is one of the best measurements for understanding workout intensity, which is why every 9Round member gets a PULSE heart rate monitor for real-time results. When you first start incorporating face masks into the mix, you might notice it’s harder for you to stay in the ideal PULSE zones during your workouts compared to normal. This is because your body needs time to adjust to any discomfort, like we mentioned above. Luckily, you can keep tabs on your heart rate with PULSE to know if your performance is being affected, and then, you can adjust your intensity accordingly to still get the most out of your workouts.

Join the 9Round Nation and experience what it’s like to exercise at a small fitness studio that cares about your health and safety. Sign up for a FREE Introductory Workout below, and we’ll show you how our revolutionary kickboxing-themed workouts can help you get in shape this year!


This is not medical advice. For some people with certain health conditions, mask wearing is not advised. Please speak with your doctor about the health and safety risks of wearing a face mask during exercise if you have any concerns. 

If at any time you start to feel discomfort, dizziness, headaches, shortness of breath, muscular weakness, or drowsiness while exercising, stop and notify your 9Round trainer. Rest until they have subsided. If your condition worsens, stop the activity immediately and seek medical attention.

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