Science on Heat Training: It Will Boost Performance
Hot weather is its own workout reward: Beautiful sunshine, lots of sweat, and you really feel like you’re getting’ it done. Ah, but yes, it is wicked hot and depending where you live, humid. It can be brutal. You might want to try a new hot-weather trick to boost your performance as high as the mercury: Take a hot bath first.
Didn’t see that one coming, right? Well, as dubious – and sweltering – as it sounds, research has shown that a hot soak may help your body acclimate to higher outside temperatures. How? When your body sweats more, it releases more internal heat. By stepping up how quickly your body can do this without having to exert yourself, you’ll adapt to high temps faster and ease any related stress to the heart.
In a new Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research study , scientists asked runners to prep for a 5k in the heat by pedaling exercise bikes at top speed in sweat-inducing room temperatures. They did this for 90 minutes every day for five days. The result? Improved running times by 6.5 percent. And according to the New York Times, these times were slightly better than when the same study participants practiced heat acclimation and precooling methods (such as dousing themselves in cold water or knocking back an ice-cool drink before training.)
This is where the hot bath comes in: The study author recommends a deep dunk in a steaming bath of at least 40 degrees Celsius/104 degrees Fahrenheit in the days leading up to your hot day training. You can also hightail to the hot tub after your workout out, too, the research notes. For example, give yourself a 30-minute soak after a 30-minute workout.
Sound … hot? Perhaps. But if it improves workout performance it might be worth the plunge.
Just remember: No matter how ready you feel to take on hot weather training, should you start feeling sick, dizzy or any other symptom of heat illness, head for the shade and drink some fluids.
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