Working out in hot weather may not seem like the ideal thing to do. You may already feel hot, sticky and fatigued before you’ve even started. Yet, if you are not careful, those great routines and habits that you’ve formed as part of your lifestyle and have been giving you great results, will soon start to unravel, potentially resulting in you moving further away from your goals.
The science behind it is clear that exercising when warm means you start with an increased core temperature and can in fact improve your performance, endurance and give you an advantage when it comes to progressing.
You may remember the iconic photographs from the 1970s of well-known bodybuilders like Arnold Schwarzenegger working out on Muscle Beach in Los Angeles, working on his tan while pumping iron under the California sun. Or perhaps seen or experienced hot yoga, with its promise that the heat further improves flexibility, bone density and stress reduction, plus, like a sauna, is great for your skin.
With many people in the higher latitudes north and south of the equator suffering (many unknowingly) from vitamin D deficiency by not getting enough sun exposure on their skin, increasing their chances of fatigue, bone pain, muscle weakness and aching, plus mood changes including depression, getting out and enjoying the better weather becomes a more compelling idea.
So what is stopping you strapping on your trainers and making the most of the good weather along with progressing your health and fitness?
While we don’t all live on muscle beach, or even near a beach in many cases, we can all continue to go to the gym to progress without resistance training. Taking immediate advantage of our body’s already increased core temperature and remembering to take sufficient rest between exercises and sets. Whether you perform body weight, calisthenics or with weights, your performance should be as good if not better than when starting out on a cold day.
The usual precautions apply. That being to listen to your body! The whole no pain, no gain thing is nonsense. Yes, during resistance training you are looking to work the muscles, potentially taking them to failure or fatigue, though this is the ache and soreness of being used. If you feel any pain, this is your body’s message to say stop, investigate and potentially seek professional attention.
Plus working out while hot will further increase your body temperature and it will respond by using more calories to keep it cool with the result being you’ll also sweat more. This fluid will need replacing more regularly than on cooler days where your body may be working hard to maintain its core temperature, so when it’s hot and humid, remember to drink more water and replace electrolytes that are also lost through your skin.
Now cardio is different. If running is your thing, cycling, plyometrics, High Intensity Interval Training or other exercise designed to increase your heart rate and air intake, then working out in hot and humid conditions can significantly increase your chances of overheating and passing out. Therefore choosing a time outside of the highest temperatures or humidity levels is crucial to making it a pleasant and safer experience. So perhaps that early morning or late evening outdoor exercise may be the better option.
Another thing you may want to think about before you go progress your fitness in the pleasant weather, is what you are wearing. Safe to say you may want to ditch the heavy sweatpants and hoodie, going for a more lightweight, breathable and wicking fabric to aid in keeping you cool. Also you may want to consider gloves and footwear if you are performing anything that requires grip. When you are hot and sweaty, your grip may slip causing you to fall on your face or causing more significant damage.
Think about whether you need to bring a towel as well to wipe over any surfaces afterwards or even to towel yourself off, especially when it is very humid. The principle that your body uses for cooling is sweating. As the sweat hits the surface of your skin, it evaporates and cools the body. In humid conditions you don’t have as much of an evaporating effect as the environment is already pretty saturated with fluid.
Remember if you have pre-existing health conditions, are pregnant or have heat intolerance problems, then follow the advice of your doctor. If at any time you feel dizzy, lightheaded or nauseous then stop! Find somewhere cooler and rest. You may also need to drink more water.
Finally, remember moderation is also key. Take some time to enjoy the good weather, rest and relax. These moments are equally important for your progress because it is here where you’ll repair, build and process to become even better.
So what small changes are you going to make today to keep up with your fitness routine?
About The Author
Martin Sharp is a Multi-Award Winning International Consultant, Coach, Speaker and Author and founder of Sharp Fit For Life, who helps busy and overweight entrepreneurs, consultants and business owners obtain the fitness and lifestyle that makes them happier, more confident and with the flexibility to continue to be at their best. After personally succumbing to obesity and working his way out of it, Martin obtained recognised qualifications in health and sports science, was mentored by the world leading online physique and lifestyle coach and became a member of the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity.