A cool recovery helps a hot workout

When summer rolls around, you’ll probably be spending more time outside. But when you’re inside, chances are that it’ll be several degrees warmer than normal – especially when you’re at the gym. And a hard workout in the heat is much more demanding than the same workout in an air-conditioned building. For bodybuilders, there has always been one big question: How does heat affect recovery?

Scientists examined this question by getting male and female athletes to do two 30-minute exercise sessions seven days apart, each followed by a one-hour passive recovery session of sitting. During recovery, one group of people sat in a room heated to 22°C and the other sat in another room heated to 33°C. They found that the athletes who recovered in the cooler room recovered faster and better than those athletes who were in hotter conditions.


Heat affects your performance before, during and after a hard workout. To have the best workout, avoid overheating before you get there. Ideally, your gym should be air-conditioned, but it if isn’t, take a cool shower after your workout to help bring down your core temperature. This will help flush out lactic acid and promote circulation. And be sure to stay as cool as you can for the rest of the day. This will help speed your recovery and launch you into the anabolic phase of recovery: growth.


Duffield R, King M, Skein M. Recovery of voluntary and evoked muscle performance following intermittent-sprint exercise in the heat. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2009 Jun;4(2):254-68.

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