Beat The Heat Summer Training

Ahhhh, summer! Time to leave the air-conditioned, fluorescent-lit cave of dumbbells, barbells, and other equipment behind for blue skies, beaten paths, and lush outdoor scenery.  With weather like this, now's the time to develop that all-natural tan while you give your routine some much-needed fresh air and a change of pace.  But before you put away your gym ID, realize the transition to training outdoors is going to mean more than just a good pair of shades: as temperatures rise, so too does your risk of suffering dehydration, heatstroke, and other heat-related injuries.  If you really want to beat the heat, you've got to prepare your body for the assault – otherwise, you might as well be walking on the sun. Read on as 2 of our IFBB Pros give their tips on beating the summer heat.

Jessica Paxson: IFBB Figure Pro, Fitness Model
Whether you're an outdoorsy athlete or not, training under the sun can be fun.  But before you get carried away, remember: you still need to put your body to work if you're going to maintain your figure.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying you have to pack some heavy dumbbells for your open-air training session; just be wary of how easy it is to get lost in the scenery and lose that gym mentality.

But without adequate nutrition and proper supplementation, how can you expect to recover?  If there's ever a time of year that recovery is important, it's summertime: longer days and hotter temps definitely take their toll.  In fact, when temperatures near or exceed 90° F, your body can reach a core temperature of 108° F under strenuous conditions.  That puts you in serious danger of heatstroke – not the kind of burn you want to be feeling.

To beat the heat, I stay cool and hydrated with summer snacks.  An apple with some reduced-calorie peanut butter or a cup of mixed berries with a teaspoon of honey and a 1/2 cup of dry oatmeal will do.  A variety of crisp summer salads also satisfy my hunger and serve as easy, low-calorie meals.

And let's not forget hydration.  I recommend getting between 1 and 1 ½ gallons of water per day – no matter what time of year it is.  During the summer it's even more important to stay hydrated, especially when you spend time training outdoors.  Make sure to have something refreshing on-hand before, during, and after your workouts.

I like to approach hydration in three basic phases: hydration, training hydration, and rehydration. To start, I drink 17-20 oz. of water (between 2 and 3 glasses) 2 hours prior to training.  During my workout, I generally take in between 6-8 oz. of water every 15-20 minutes.  Following workouts, I go beyond plain water and include carbohydrates and electrolytes for enhanced fluid balance and energy.  That's a lot of water, so you might have to work your way up to this level gradually.

As far as supplementation goes, some things never change: I take an ON Opti-Women multivitamin every day to keep my body prepped for my active lifestyle, and ON 100% Whey Gold Standard has always been my protein of choice.  During the summer, though, I like to take a scoop of vanilla-flavored 100% Whey Gold Standard and blend it with 1 cup of strawberries (you can use your fruit of choice), some water, and ice, and I've got my reward for a good workout – a delicious cool-down smoothie for muscle recovery.  And since we're in the heart of swimsuit season, I also take ON Thermo-Cuts to help give me the extra boost I need to burn-off that last layer of insulation and take my weight loss to the next level.

Chuck Sanow: IFBB Pro, 2005 NPC Masters National Champ, and Chair of the Illinois NPC
There's not much I change in the summer.  My workouts might change slightly, but it's not a result of the heat; the fact is, neither of my gyms have A.C. – making my workouts hot, sweaty, and pretty uncomfortable.  I work out by my own principles: working out isn't supposed to be comfortable.  But I guess I'm that type of guy; if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen. That's probably also one reason why I'm a Chicago firefighter.

The key, whether you're working out in hot weather or an air-conditioned health club, is to be mentally focused.  Get out and get it done.  You might also want to incorporate a good carbohydrate supplement.  I prefer carb drinks like ABB Carbo Force – I'll usually stick one in the freezer before my workout, so that by the time I'm done I've got an ice-cold, refreshing slushie. It's important to replace the glucose that your body just depleted during training; in fact, exercise in hot weather increases the rate of muscle glycogen use, so if you don't have an adequate supply, fatigue can set in earlier.  If you really need to, take a break midway through to rehydrate and replenish.  In addition to carb supplements before, during, and after exercise, take some Glutamine post-workout for enhanced recovery.  Caffeine can also be helpful, but don't overdo it especially when it's hot out because caffeine flushes water from your system – and you're already losing plenty to the weather.  To counter that effect, hydrate as often as necessary.
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