Heat training improves exercise performance

Most of us have heard of athletes training at altitude to improve their body's capability of delivering oxygen to their muscles during exercise, so what about heat training?

The benefits of training in the heat in preparation for a competition in a hot environment is well understood in acclimatising the body to tolerate heat stress. However, are there physiological benefits to training in hot environments to perform better in more temperate climates, or cool conditions?

A study looked into the effects of a 3-week endurance training programme in endurance cyclists conducted under moderate environmental heat stress. Endurance training that was performed in 33°C significantly improved endurance performance in temperate conditions when compared to those that trained in 18°C. Citrate synthase activity, which increases energy production at a cellular level, was also elevated when compared to the 18°C training group.

Further research is needed in this field, but it offers encouraging evidence that favourable adaptations occur at a cellular level when training in heated conditions to improve endurance capacity.

Maunder, E. et al. (2021). Temperate performance and metabolic adaptations following endurance training performed under environmental heat stress. The Physiological Society. 9(9): e14849.