Saunas and Performance- The Performance-Enhancing Effects of Heat
Does building muscle while relaxing in the sauna sound too good to be true? Well, it turns out you can, however, it is not that simple. Let us explain.
Regular use of saunas, hot tubs and Jacuzzis can improve your exercise performance. The key lies in intermittent heat application, and knowing how to apply this in practice can give you an extra edge in reaching your workout goals.
What The Hell Does Saunas Have To Do With Performance?
Maybe you think we are just as crazy as the naked fins, sweating it out in their outdoors saunas just to go swimming nude in a lake of ice afterwards. But, believe it or not, there is more to this strange custom from Finland than what people might think.
If you got a gym card at a somewhat high-end gym, a sauna can often be found for relaxation use following intense workouts. However, few know that the benefits of saunas extend much further than relaxation. Heat shock proteins (HSPs), are specialized proteins of regenerative nature that are increased in the body when spending time in a high heat environment such as a sauna or hot tub.
HSPs have many beneficial effects in the body such as:
Prevent oxidative stress (similar to antioxidants): by scavenging free radicals, HSPs can protect the structure of your DNA and prevent damaging processes such as muscle catabolism from occurring.
Repair structural anomalies in proteins: meaning, HSPs make sure proteins are formed correctly which translates to enhanced recovery both regarding speed as well as overall effect.
Shuts down protein degradation: naturally, the body will break down amino acids that it deems “unnecessary”, however, amino acids are crucial during periods of high-intensity training such as during resistance training. They are needed for repair and muscle growth. HSPs can inhibit a pathway called the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway (UPP) and preserve more amino acids for your muscle building processes, translating to accelerated recovery as well as growth.
Helps muscle adaption
Muscles grow big from adapting to the stressors put on them, such as periods of heavy resistance training. If the muscles fail to adapt, such as often is the case during overtraining, growth will stall.
During resistance training, HSPs are transiently elevated to transport amino acids to the sites were damaged muscle tissues can be found. These amino acids initiate recovery and accumulate at the injury site to make sure sufficient material is available for repair. Correct protein folding also needs to occur which is something HSPs are responsible for. HSPs make sure amino acids are assembled correctly into the required proteins to enhance hypertrophy.
How to get the maximum benefits of using heat for performance?
To continuously reap the benefits of intermittent heat application is simple, spend 15-30min in the sauna or hot tub after your workouts. Not only is it enjoyable, but it will also increase the muscle growth effects of your workouts since studies have shown it enhances the growth of skeletal muscle. Doing quick sessions like this is called “intermittent hyperthermia” and can also be done in combination with ice baths or cold showers for even more benefits in the form of boosting neurotransmitter levels and endorphins. Say goodbye to sore muscles.
Other Ways To Boost The Effects Of Training
Combine the growth enhancing effects of heat with a post workout shake consisting of a high-quality whey protein powder as well as high GI carbs.
Whey has been shown to boost levels of IGF-1 in the body, which is a growth hormone that is responsible for the growth of tissues. Increasing levels of IGF-1 when it matters, i.e. post training, will help bring on the maximum amount of muscle growth response from your training.
Consuming high glycemic index (GI) carbohydrates after training refuels muscle glycogen stores in muscle and preps your body for your next workout, as well as provide sufficient building material for muscle growth.
Sipping a tasty post workout shake while in the sauna or hot tub sounds like a pretty epic way to recover if you ask us, and it is also effective for providing an excellent recovery. Our high-quality Isotope Whey Protein comes in many mouthwatering flavours such as Vanilla, Chocolate and Peanut Butter Chocolate. Top it up with a shake of our high GI carbohydrate drink Cluster Bomb, available in Grape or Strawberry Kiwi.
Recovery does not have to be hard on your body and mind, kick back and relax in the sauna and let your muscles get to work!