Heat adaption plays an important role in competition. Whether that competition is outdoors in a hot climate, or indoors e-racing, an athlete not adapted to the heat will suffer major performance consequences. When the body encounters temperatures it’s not acclimated to, it will attempt to shed heat by diverting blood from the muscles to the skin for cooling. This means less oxygen to the muscles, and fewer watts to the pedals.
Indoor cycling is ideal
Indoor cycling, coupled with a CORE sensor, is a great way to adapt to the heat. The warm room temperatures and the lack of a cooling wind are ideal for raising the core body temperature into a heat training zone that will quickly acclimate the athlete. The CORE sensor ensures that you get the proper thermal load – enough to be effective, but not so much to wear you out. Like all training, incremental and sustainable doses are better than excessive and sporadic.
Three easy steps
CORE has a Indoor Training and Racing Guide that details heat adaption on an indoor trainer. The summary of the steps are as follows:
1. Find your heat training zone
To find your heat training zone, you’ll do a one hour heat ramp test. This test will elevate your core temperature as you keep your heart rate steady. You’ll monitor your power output and stop after your watts have dropped 20%. This procedure will identify the optimal core temperature for your heat training.
2. Conduct heat block training
A heat block training period of 2–4 weeks will acclimate you to elevated temperatures. It typically involves 6–7 heat training sessions per week, with 45–75 minutes per session in the heat training zone. Note that the core temperatures of the heat training zone will be below the very uncomfortable levels reached during the heat ramp test – most athletes find heat training very manageable.
After only a few sessions, you may notice that your power drops much less than before when your core temperature is elevated You may also notice that it takes longer (or more effort) to reach an elevated core temperature. These are the performance gains that come from the increased blood plasma you’ve created by heat training.
3. Heat training maintenance
After finishing heat block training, you’ll need to maintain those plasma gains. Doing so requires 2–4 sessions per week of 45—75 minutes per session in the heat training zone. These can either be during lower intensity days, or a high intensity workout can be modified to include heat training.
Playing it safe
Heat training carries some risks – that’s why it’s important to constantly monitor your core temp while doing it. Remember, more is not better – exceeding your heat training zone does not give you extra benefits – and exceeding it by too much will take you to the “red zone”, which can be dangerous. Also, do not heat train while doing strength training, while feeling ill, or while pregnant.
Train hot, race cool
While you’ll do a lot of training with an elevated core temperature, on race day you’ll want to keep your core temp as low as possible. For indoor racing, that means a cool room, lots of fans, room ventilation, and other tricks described in this short video. And for staying cool in outdoor competition, this article gives great advice.