Is this pampering act the surprising secret to training better?
Scientists, trainers and sport coaches are always hunting for new ways to help athletes and everyday exercisers train better, harder, faster and a new study says we’ve been missing one vital step
When the temps outside are high the accepted workout wisdom has been that athletes, sports stars and regular people heading out to train should cool the body down pre-workout to avoid overheating. Drinking ice-cold beverages or applying ice to the body pre-training is the usual way to do this. But according to The New York Times a recent study undertaken by scientists at the Environmental Extremes Laboratory at the University of Brighton debunks this theory and says acclimatising the body – by for example having a hot bath pre-workout – will make your training more effective.
The study, published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, asked a group of nine runners to do a series of timed 5km treadmill runs under different conditions over a number of days including an initial baseline run in a 32 degree Celsius room, a run performed after the runners were “precooled” with cooling vests and had dunked body parts in ice cold water, and a timed run after the runners acclimatised to the heat beforehand (they cycled on a stationary bike for 90 minutes in a 37 degrees Celsius heated room). The scientists then compared the times and found the runners peak performance was after acclimatising to the heat. The second fastest times were from the precooled set and the slowest were when the runners weren’t precooled or acclimatised.
Which actually makes a lot of sense. For years trainers have been spruiking the benefits of a proper pre-training warm up to ready the muscles for the onslaught ahead and this study shows that even when you’re about to train in basically an outdoor sauna, getting used to the heat by having a hot bath pre-workout or doing a similar warm up activity will seriously up your training game.