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How to train in the Heat

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Written by: Coach Rachel 

Its no secret that most CrossFit gyms run without A/C during the hotter months forcing you to become acclimated to the heat and outdoor conditions under the blistering hot sun and temps, especially here in Houston. Exercising in hot weather can increase your body’s temperature. The body in return sends more blood to circulate through your skin to cool itself. This could lead to less blood for your muscles which causes your heart rate to increase.

However, studies suggest that working out and pushing yourself in the heat can actually improve your running and cardio based performance. Using experimental groups who worked out in 100 degree heat over a 10 day period, researchers found that the group improved their performance by 7%, achieved a higher level of heat acclimation and were able to function better in cooler environments (Lorenzo et al., 2010). Now let me put the disclaimer out there that this doesn’t mean I’m suggesting you to elevate your body temperate by working out in higher temps to the point that you over heat and pass out, which won’t count towards improving your fitness or help you gain any credibility in the gym. Be smart! I’m telling people all the time to listen to your body and know your limits.

Tips for exercising in the Houston heat:

  • Stay hydrated! Hydration is a key factor in helping your body cool down by sweating. The more we sweat, the more water we need to drink. I once read in a health article, and still relay the message today, to not wait until you’re thirsty to drink water because if you’re thirsty that means you’re already dehydrated. Cedric Bryant, Ph.D., a fitness expert for the American Council on Exercise, suggests drinking 16-24 ounces of water several hours before working out in hot temperatures (as you all are now at DHCF) and another 6-8 ounces of water every 20 mins of exercising. That’s only 2-3 cups of water before working out and 1 cup of water every 20 mins.
  • Replenish Electrolytes! Sports drinks such as Gatorade and Powerade are also good to drink along with or in place of water during workouts. When you sweat your body excretes sodium, chloride, and potassium (aka electrolytes which help out cells and organs function). Sports drinks help to replenish electrolyte and salt intake while also giving you an extra energy boost from the carbs during your workouts.
  • Workout Clothes: Wear light colored and light weight or loose fitting clothing. Cotton helps with sweat evaporation or any other high-tech workout material meant to keep you cool.
  • Know Your Limits! As I stated before, listen to your body. Stop what you’re doing if you feel dizzy, nauseous, or faint.

Continuing to train during these hotter months at District H Crossfit gives you the chance to improve your heat acclimation and conditioning. So, instead of pushing your body beyond its limits and overheating, be smart and make sure to incorporate the tips and tools above to better equip you for successful workouts in the heat.

Lorenzo, S., Halliwill, J. R., Sawka, M. N., & Minson, C. T. (2010). Heat acclimation improves exercise performance. Journal of Applied Physiology109(4), 1140-1147.