A sauna suit workout is as uncomfortable as it looks. You can use this style of training to adapt to exercise in the heat, but it can be dangerous. Some athletes also use sauna suit training to rapidly drop weight.
Sauna Suit Training Simulates Heat
Most sauna suits are made from vinyl or different types of plastic. Neoprene is a commonly used material. You can wear this kind of suit on your upper or lower body, or you can cover everything.
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The suits have cuffs around the wrists and ankles to trap the heat. When you exercise, your body naturally produces heat. Normally, the heat dissipates through your skin out into the environment. Some of it is pulled from your body when the sweat evaporates from your skin.
Wearing a sauna suit prevents heat from escaping. As a result, it gets trapped against your body and causes you to warm up much faster than you would without a suit. It might seem counterintuitive to heat yourself during exercise, but there are some benefits.
Read more: Exercising While Wearing Neoprene
According to a March 2018 study published in Temperature, using sauna suit training to adapt to heat is effective but not as useful as exercising in hot conditions. In other words, you can use the suit to simulate heat, but it can't compare to the real thing.
You might be wondering why it's important to simulate heat during training. Your body needs to adapt to warmer climates if you want to perform well and avoid dangerous health problems like heatstroke.
One important adaptation you get from wearing a sauna suit while working out is that you sweat more. A small study featured in the journal Temperature in March 2018 has found that sweat rate increased while wearing the suit, helping the subjects adapt to heat faster.
Another small study that was published in Experimental Physiology in October 2017 has shown that subjects who were in better shape had more evaporative heat loss. That means they lost more heat through sweat. When sweat evaporates from your skin, it cools your body down.
Sauna Suits Improve Fitness
Exercising in the heat is challenging both mentally and physically. The added challenge comes with some benefits, shows a small study published in the February 2017 edition of the International Journal of Research Exercise Physiology. Researchers have found that wearing a sauna suit led to greater increases in VO2 max (maximum oxygen uptake), which is a way to measure aerobic fitness.
Additionally, subjects living with obesity got significantly healthier over the course of the study. They saw decreases in body mass, body fat and blood glucose levels. The subjects were also better able to oxidize fat and use it as fuel more efficiently. This means that the suits have the potential to help you lose weight faster than when exercising in normal conditions.
While there are benefits to wearing a sauna suit during exercise, you need to be careful. Cranking up the heat on your body causes you to sweat more, which means that dehydration is more likely.
Preventing Rapid Dehydration
Dehydration can set in quickly, so you need to be prepared. Sauna suit fitness may increase your risk for dehydration. By the time you're thirsty, you've already lost 1 to 2 percent of the fluid in your body, according to the University of Connecticut.
You may also check the color of your urine to determine if you're dehydrated. The darker and more yellow it is, the less hydrated you are.
Before hitting the gym, make sure your urine is a pale yellow. This is a sign that you're properly hydrated. If you go into your workout dehydrated, your performance will suffer and you're more likely to experience heatstroke.
To figure out how much fluid you've lost during your workout and how much water you need to drink, weigh yourself before and after training. For every 2.2 pounds lost, you need to drink 1 liter of fluids, says the University of Connecticut. You can drink water or a sports drink with electrolytes, like sodium, to recover faster from exercise.
- University of Connecticut: "Hydration"
- International Journal of Research Exercise Physiology: "Health-Related Benefits of Exercise Training with a Sauna Suit: A Randomized, Controlled Trial"
- Experimental Physiology: "Fitness‐Related Differences in the Rate of Whole‐Body Evaporative Heat Loss in Exercising Men Are Heat‐Load Dependent"
- Temperature: "Physiological and Perceptual Responses to Exercising in Restrictive Heat Loss Attire With Use of an Upper-Body Sauna Suit in Temperate and Hot Conditions"
- Temperature: "Evidence for Training in Additional Clothing as an Alternative Heat Acclimation Strategy for Athletes"