No question, it’s hot out there! The first six months of 2015 set the record for the hottest half-year ever recorded – a record that lasted until, yep, 2016.
As a rower, what do you do in this heat when you have summer training? Your first inclination might be to join a gym so you can erg in comfort (of course there might be a line since everyone is now discovering how great erging is). While this option does seem enticing, if getting faster is your primary goal this summer, taking the erg outside may be the better option.
A study conducted by the human physiology department at the University of Oregon found that training in high temperatures improved an athlete’s performance in a very short period of time.
The study placed a group of highly trained competitive cyclists in two separate groups. One group of cyclists went through heat acclimation by completing 10 training sessions in a lab heated to 104 degrees at a relatively calm pace (50 percent of their VO2 Max). The control group completed the same training in a cooled laboratory so they would not become heat acclimated. Finally, both groups completed the same training once again in a laboratory cooled to 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
The cyclists who were heat acclimated (in the 104 degree room) showed an improvement in their performance around four to eight percent, while the control group did not improve at all.
“That’s a huge difference when you’re talking about competitive performance... It was really quite dramatic," lead researcher Dr. Santiago Lorenzo told the NY Times. He did add one caveat; “we were dealing with highly trained athletes in a very tightly controlled environment… This was not a real-world-type situation.”
W4x training before London
A similar study was conducted in New Zealand with a group of elite rowers
, in which rowers erged in a 104 degree Fahrenheit room with 40% humidity for 90 minutes a day for five days,. Following the five-day acclimation period, scientist found that the rowers had increased their 2k performances by about 1.5 percent.
While this is useful news given the heat this summer, in researching this information, all of the scientists made it a point to stress that the participants in these studies were highly trained athletes in controlled environments.
There is strong evidence that heat acclimation can dramatically increase performance, but you also need to be smart about how hard you train when it is this hot outside. Heat can be a very dangerous, so please use caution!