“Heat training not only does a better job at increasing V02 max than altitude, but it also makes athletes better at withstanding a wider range of temperatures.”
Training in the heat can be very taxing and if you don’t stay hydrated it can be very detrimental to your health. However, if you maintain your hydration levels and take the correct precautions, training in heat can have many benefits.
Expansion of plasma volume
More plasma, results in greater blood volume. This leads to an increase in stroke volume, whilst at the same effort. Essentially the heart can pump a greater amount of oxygenated blood each beat. You will also have a higher VO2 for the same effort. In short, your aerobic power will increase.
Aside from more aerobic power, there are other benefits that come from greater blood volume. It helps reduce lactate accumulation because the extra oxygen leads to less anaerobic respiration. Also, more blood flow to the skeletal muscle can reduce the rate of glycogen depletion. Finally, it helps to lower your core temperature and increase sweat rates due to higher blood flow to the skin. So, the benefits of more blood plasma will significantly improve your endurance performance.
Training in heat can also result in; a reduction in overall core temperature, reduced blood lactate, increased skeletal muscle force and surprisingly make a person train better in cold temperatures. In certain studies it has been found heat can mimic the effects of altitude, on aerobic adaptations.
Method of heat training
As the weather changes to increasing temperatures over the summer, you start by exercising in colder hours (mornings) and then gradually add intensity during exercise within the hotter parts of the day. If you do not have hot weather, you can also use extra layers of clothing, which have the same effect.
It is also common to use a dry sauna directly after running. This way your actual training isn’t impacted by the heat, but the adaptations are similar. It is important to not do this type of training on an easy day as the added stress to the body may not provide you with sufficient recovery.
It is recommended that you drink 30 – 40 ounces of electrolyte drink per hour during this type of training.
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