As summer keeps on rolling, we hear people talking about their ‘hot weather training’ trips. Some are off to the sunny parts of Europe, others venture across the world on what sounds like a holiday. Is there any real benefit to going to a hot climate to train for a while? Or is it just an athlete’s excuse for a holiday without falling out of shape? 

There’s some research to suggest training in hot weather is beneficial. But is a week or two enough to feel the benefits? And are the benefits even real?

Heat training can be more effective

In 2010, Santiago Lorenzo, at the University of Oregon, researched 20 highly trained cyclists and made them complete a performance test on two different occasions separated by ten days. Within these ten days, all cyclists completed a prescribed training programme, but 12 of the cyclists did it in a hot environment with the temperature set to 100°F (approximately 38°C). The remaining cyclists worked out in a temperature around 13°C, the same as the first performance test. 

The results found the ‘hot weather’ cyclists underwent heat acclimatisation and improved their performance test by 6%. Additionally, their VO2 max and power output at lactate threshold rose by 5%. The cyclists who trained in a cool environment didn’t experience any improvements. 

They found the heat improved efficiency in heart dissipation and increased blood volume. It also changed some muscle cell enzymes which may have contributed to the better performance. This heat training took a mere ten days to allow cyclists to perform better in cooler temperatures. What it doesn’t tell us is whether these effects are long-lasting or if our bodies will readjust to cooler climates when we return to cool weather. Either way, it does paint a compelling argument to train in the heat. It could be particularly beneficial before a competition.

Heat training as a tool

Training in the heat can be uncomfortable. But research shows instead of hiding from the heat, you can use it to your advantage, just as you would with hills or high altitude training. Other suggested benefits include:

  • Lowering your core temperature as you start sweating
  • Increased plasma volume in the blood allowing you to send blood to cool the skin without compromising your ability to carry oxygen to the muscles
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Increased oxygen consumption

There is evidence to suggest a hot weather training holiday can be beneficial to your body and give your mind time to relax under the sun. But, warm weather training carries risks of heatstroke and dehydration. If you jet off this summer, you need to ensure you’re getting enough water and spend some time in the shade to look after your health. 

If you’re playing sport abroad this summer or training for the new season this winter, don’t forget to wear the right protection. OPRO are leading suppliers of mouthguard protection for all athletes. Take a look at our range of mouthguards on our website.