When you exercise, you probably find yourself stripping off layers of clothing as you start getting hot. So you might wonder what's up with the guy who wears vinyl workout clothes, covered neck to ankles the entire time even though he's sweating up a storm. That's a sauna suit he's wearing, and there's a method to his seeming madness. He's wearing that suit while working out to tip the scale to a lower weight.
How Sauna Suits Work
Sauna suits are typically two pieces: a top and a bottom that cover most of your body, typically leaving just your head, neck, hands and feet exposed. The neckline, wrist cuffs and ankles are elastic or at least tightly fitted to cut off the typical routes your body heat escapes from. By trapping your body heat, sauna suits cause you to sweat more and, therefore, lose weight. Be aware, however, that the weight you're losing is mostly water weight. You'll gain back anything you've lost once you drink water after your sauna suit workout. The people who benefit most from sauna suits are those who need to drop some weight quickly to make a cut for competition, such as a boxer, a wrestler or a bodybuilder. (reference 1, 2, 3)
There's no one way to use a sauna suit to workout. You can wear one anytime you're exercising to increase your circulation quickly and get a sweat going. Wear it three to five times a week while performing resistance training exercises, a kick boxing workout or while doing cardio exercises such as biking, running or walking. Some people even wear sauna suits while performing activities that aren't considered exercise but that still get your heart rate up anyway, such as yard or housework. (reference 2, 3)
When you work out in a sauna suit, you'll still need to warm up and cool down for about 5 minutes before and after your workouts, just as you would with any workout. Activities such as jogging or pedaling a stationary bike are common ways people warm up before a workout. You'll want to become used to how you'll feel while exercising in a sauna suit, so ease into using it. Begin by only wearing it for part of your workouts initially -- 15 to 20 minutes, for example -- and gradually increasing the amount of time by about 5 minutes each week until you're wearing the suit for your entire workout. (reference 2, 3)
Sauna Suit Cautions
Because sauna suits cause you to sweat through heating you up more than usual, you should be aware of safety issues associated with them. First, talk to your doctor and let him know you want to start working out in a sauna suit. He'll know of any health issues or limitations you have that might make it dangerous for you to work out in a sauna suit. People who are pregnant or have a heart condition or high blood pressure are examples of ones who should not use a sauna suit. Also, since you'll be sweating more than usual, drink plenty of water before, during and after your workouts to keep your body from dehydrating. (reference 2, 3)