Heat-acclimation at home: possible?


 

We often hear talk of heat-acclimation to improve performance. That’s a good thing, the season is about to start. However, even if the sunny days arrive, temperatures sometimes remain too low to acclimate well. We thus provide you with an overview of how to implement this strategy at home.

 

Today, daily exercise in the heat is one of the most effective ways of training to progress within an endurance activity. On average, following an acclimation of 4 to 5 days, it is considered that the performance increases by approximately 2-3%, a margin that rises to more than 10% when the frequency of exposure extends beyond 10 days. Imagine the result! And the longer the duration of the test, the clearer the benefits… The reasons for such a phenomenon are plural, and we will come back to it in a next discussion. Today, the question is whether the adaptations related to this type of training are easily at hand…

And the answer is positive. Indeed, in order to engage the thermoregulatory, cardiovascular, metabolic and perceptual adjustments associated with training in heat, it is advisable to raise the body temperature beyond its comfort zone known as homeostasis, by at least 1°C. In order to do this, any parameter that unbalances our initial thermal balance in favour of internal heat accumulation becomes interesting.

 

In practical terms, getting involved in this type of training can be done at home. A heated room, a home trainer, a thermometer showing 35°C, and here we go. Many French athletes opt for this method, requiring a few sessions a week in their bathroom or heated micro-tents (2x2m) as the competition approaches. Otherwise, in the event of a defective radiator, nonperspirant clothes can easily do the trick: K-way and jogging tight at the extremities, cap and gloves can thus constitute precious allies to promote the state of hyperthermia. Limiting hydration before and during the session will also exacerbate the stress experienced by the body, which will then lack means to cool down. If possible, the treadmill/elliptic should be preferred over the bicycle, in view of the greater drift of the central temperature due to the higher muscle mass required. All without fan! And why not with a parallel session partner who, through sweating, will increase the humidity level.

Regardless of whether the target factor is environmental (temperature, humidity, wind), human (water status, clothing, alone or in groups) or linked to exercise (fashion, intensity, duration), each remains accessible on a daily basis. Whatever your protocol, however, keep in mind the idea of progressivity. An acclimation stage must be above all successful and motivating, especially when it is carried out in autonomy. And when the ambient heat is added to that produced by the body, it’s better to go there step by step… So, three to five sub-maximum sessions must precede those of intensity, to teach the body to function in warmth before bringing additional stress. Read more.