Could heat training improve performance on the field?

AFC player Damian Bowles trains in the Environmental Chamber, supervised by PhD Candidate Rachel Gale.

AFC player Damian Bowles trains in the Environmental Chamber, supervised by PhD Candidate Rachel Gale.

An innovative research project that seeks to determine whether heat training can improve athlete performance has been conducted at the UCRISE environmental chamber.

The project is a joint venture between UCRISE and the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), and participants are members of the Ainslie Football Club (AFC).

Participants undertook training sessions in the environmental chamber under extreme conditions, with the temperature set at 35 degrees Celsius and the humidity set to 50 per cent.

The theory underpinning the project is that when an athlete trains under extreme conditions of heat and humidity, the body adapts to these conditions, and is able to deliver a performance boost under normal conditions.

Before the training sessions all participants were baselined so changes in performance could be measured.

“We compared their core body and skin temperature, heart rate, blood lactate levels, how hot they were feeling and the exertion they used to complete the exercise at the start and then again after their training program,” project leader, Dr Naroa Etxebarria, said.

PhD candidate Rachel Gale said the initial indications were encouraging.

“Within a few days, the adaptions we started to see included a reduction in core body temperature and heart rate, improved cardiovascular function and earlier onset of sweat at lower core body temperatures, among other changes,” she said.

This research may also be of interest to people who would like to obtain additional exercise benefits by training in warmer weather (using adequate hydration, of course).

With the 2016 AFL Canberra season having recently started, the researchers will be watching the outcome of this year’s games with interest.


Researchers

  • Assistant Professor Naroa Etxebarria (UCRISE)
  • Professor David Pyne (AIS)
  • Ms Rachel Gale (UCRISE & AIS PhD candidate)

Links

ABC TV video story (1:15)

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