Question of the month From the standpoint of training, what are the most noticeable effects of summer heat?
2001 NPC USA FITNESS OVERALL CHAMPION
“Much of my precontest preparation, no matter what time of year, consists of outdoor activities. I run the hills around my neighborhood in Alamo, California, in addition to running the bleachers at a local high school and doing wind sprints with my fiance, Ron, and our two Labrador retrievers.
“As the summertime heat hits, I either have to do my outdoor training early in the morning, before it gets too hot, or take it indoors to a treadmill. I much prefer to be outside; however, I’ll change my plans rather than run the risk of dehydrating or suffering from heat exhaustion. You have to be flexible.
“In addition to rearranging workout times, it’s very important to remain hydrated. Generally, I drink a gallon of water a day, but I’ll be sure to get in two gallons on extremely warm days.”
TWO-TIME MR. OLYMPIA RUNNER-UP
“I live in Southern California where it is usually warm and sunny, but I nonetheless find it exhilarating to train in the summer. I consider hot summer weather to be a benefit to my workouts. I train indoors, but the gym has two huge doors in back that are kept open for fresh air, as well as letting in sunlight. Of course, the sunshine helps my psyche, too, even if I don’t exercise outdoors.
“I feel more energized when the sweat generated by the heat pours off my body. I add minerals, which are lost through extra perspiration, into my diet. My water intake isn’t affected by summer heat, because I always drink unusually large amounts of water–I really have no need for extra intake. Overall, I am happier, healthier and more inclined to watch my weight in this climate, compared to the cold or gloom other parts of the world offer.”
1999 NPC NATIONAL LIGHTWEIGHT WINNER
“Although exercising in the warm weather feels good, I’ve found that some athletes do themselves more harm than good by overexerting in the outdoor heat. When I train outside in the summertime, I stay alert for signs of dehydration, which can occur easily. I try to make sure I’m extremely well hydrated before even venturing outside, drinking about 16 ounces of water before starting, and I bring a water bottle with me. I wear loose-fitting clothing that breathes well. As a personal trainer, I know that some people wear long-sleeve shirts and sweatpants, trying to ‘burn more fat.’ That doesn’t work! And here’s another tip: I carry an ID card, some money and a cell phone just in case heat exhaustion sets in–that way, I can get help right away.
“The timing of my outdoor training changes In the summer. I don’t run or bike between 11 AM and 3 PM, when the sun is the hottest. Rather, I try to train early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid the sweltering heat that can cause more stress than benefit. Even at that, I tell clients who are overweight, taking special medication or suffering from an injury that they should avoid outdoor exercise in the summer, just to be safe.”
2001 EUROPEAN PRO CHAMPION
“As we speak [mid-April], it’s just before the monsoons start in Thailand. By 8:30 in the morning, when I work out, the average temperature is 96 degrees and humid. Forget trying to stay dry. I’m already wet before get to the gym. But this weather has its benefits–I don’t have to warm up so much. I never injure myself when I train in Thailand. Any time I injure myself, it’s always abroad, where it’s colder. When the temperature is 60, I need three or more warm-up sets or I’ll still feel that my muscles are cold.
“When I train in the heat, I also need at least a gallon more of water than usual to prevent dehydration. My average water intake in Thailand is two to three gallons every day. I’m constantly sweating, and if I didn’t drink that much, I’d probably make it through only half the day. When I come to the United States, it’s a maximum of two gallons.
“We don’t have air conditioning at my gym in Thailand. Even with all the windows open and ceiling fans going, it’s often cooler outside than inside. Anyone who comes to visit me needs two weeks to get used to it, and then it’s just about time to go home. However, if I had to choose between training in the heat and somewhere that’s cold, I would always choose the heat. When I get up in the morning and it’s hot and the sun is shining, it’s more motivating to me than looking outside into the cold and dark.”
1997 NPC NATIONAL HEAVYWEIGHT AND OVERALL WINNER
“There’s not that big a difference between the seasons here In Southern California, so I don’t notice any effects on my training. Besides, I train and do cardio indoors, where the immediate climate can be controlled by keeping the air conditioning set at a constant temperature. When I lived in Florida, on the other hand, there was a monumental seasonal difference. In the summer there, it can be 95 or 98 degrees with 90% humidity. I don’t care how much you turn up the air conditioning In the gym, you just can’t keep enough fluid in you under those conditions.
“People should be aware of the tendency to cramp up more in heat and humidity. So many minerals leave your body through sweating in training, in cardio and just by walking outside into the heat that you can develop muscle cramps quickly. You have to constantly drink fluids and consistently take multimineral supplements. If you don’t, you’ll be reminded pretty quickly of it when you can’t unlock your legs just to get out of the car! I don’t mind taking in water and multiminerals, but it’s just been a joy not having to deal with the extremes.”
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