Got a race coming up? Trying to boost your performance? Pro tip: Layer up before you hit the treadmill or bike for your next training session. Turns out heat training really can benefit endurance athletes, according to research published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
In the study, Norwegian scientists monitored the cycling performance of young, fit men who biked five days a week, averaging 50 minutes each time. The cyclists wore heat suits consisting of a wool base layer, wool hat, nylon jacket and pants, and a down jacket.
At the end of five weeks, athletes saw a 2.6 percent increase in their hemoglobin mass (the amount of red blood cells), indicating a significant boost in performance since red blood cells are used to transport oxygen from the lungs to the muscles.
Heat training isn’t new: Pro athletes frequently train in heat chambers or travel to hot countries to give their red blood cell count a boost. But for those who can’t afford high-tech rooms and international tickets, layering up appears to have the same benefit (the scientists also had a group train in a heat chamber with similar hemoglobin benefits). Want to give heat training a try? Hit the gym as if you’re going skiing:
Base layer (try Smart Wool Intraknit Thermal Merino Base Layer Crew, $125; smartwool.com)
Nylon-lined jacket (try Under Armour Stormproof Lined Rain Jacket, $175; underarmour.com)
Nylon-lined pants (REI Co-op Essential Rain Pants, $60; rei.com)
Light-but-warm down jacket (Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoody; arcteryx.com)
Wool hat (Pearl Izumi Merino Wool Hat, $22.50; pearlizumi.com)