Improve Your Game With Heat Acclimation Training
Acclimation training is the process by which the body adapts to a change in environment. When we exercise in the heat, our blood flow and sweat rates increase to allow for heat expulsion. Competing in hot and humid environments puts an additional strain on the body, so it is vital that athletes who are looking to compete in hotter climates first give themselves enough time to acclimate themselves first. Although partial acclimation can be done in the gym, the most effective way to fully prepare is by undergoing consecutive training days in the heat.
How heat acclimation training improves your performance
- Sweating begins at a lower temperature, which cools the body more effectively and reduces the risk of heat-related illnesses.
- Cardiovascular function improves, lowering the heart rate and increasing blood flow.
- It provides effective psychological preparation for heat-related stress that comes with competing in challenging environments.
Tim Ford, an triathlete and coach who represented Australia at the 2016 Ironman World Championships, favours heat acclimation training when preparing for his own competitions, and regularly prepares for upcoming races by training in Phuket, Thailand. “It doesn’t matter what kind of racing you do, whether you race in the heat or race in the cold or normal weather, racing in the heat is always going to give you an edge. When conditions get tough in a race, as they always will, you are able to reflect on the hard training that you’ve done when it has been hard, and hot, and think this isn’t as hard as that.”
Advice and tips for effective heat acclimation training
- Take the time to acclimatise yourself properly, beginning with sessions that are lower in intensity than your usual regime for the first couple of days. Once acclimatised, return to your normal routine or even kick it up a notch.
- Maximise the amount of time you spend outside, aiding the body in adjusting to the heat.
- Keep hydrated – before, during and after each workout to avoid dehydration. Don’t underestimate the amount of water your body needs, as you may need to drink as much as double your usual intake.
For athletes that compete in tropical climates periodically, but primarily train in more temperate environments, it is important to re-acclimate the body prior to each event, helping you bring your A game every time. One study found a performance increase of 6% for cyclists racing in cool conditions and an 8% performance increase in hot conditions, due to heat acclimation.
Phuket’s tropical weather provides athletes with an environment that is hotter and more humid than common conditions, allowing them to train harder and push themselves further at any time of the year. Ford adds, “I often try to come here when I am racing in Asia because it’s the perfect location to acclimate to those warmer, humid conditions.”
To find out more about one of Asia’s best acclimation training facilities, visit www.thanyapura.com.
Natalie Weekes is a freelance writer currently based in Nova Scotia, Canada. With a background in Marine Biology, her passions lie in sustainability, conservation, health and education. When she is not outside in nature, she can usually be found creating things, researching, and connecting with others around the world. Tweet @TheLostMollusc.