Thursday, June 9, 2011

Summer Cool Down

Not sure why he's doing yoga in
what appears to be cargo pants.

To say it's hot out is an understatement. The weather around here these past two days has been well over 90 degrees. It's so warm I imagine ice cream melts before it even hits your lips.

As a result, exercise becomes a bit more strenuous and taxing on the body. However, it's not impossible. Similarly to warming up in the winter, we can stay cool in the blazing sun. Of course, we just need to be smart about it.
1) Clothing
  • Keep it minimal and light. Guys can get away with a pair of shorts and going shirtless. Girls will need to sport a tank top. I somewhat advise against hats since it retains heat, but if the sun is burning your head it might be wise to protect it.
  • If you exercise barefoot outside remember hard surfaces become hot. You don't want to step out only to have your feet burned.
2) Combating Heat
  • Whatever you're doing, sip on cold fluids. I prefer water over sports drinks. Sports drinks don't quench my thirst as well as water. Water also allows you to periodically splash your face/head. Drink and splash frequently, but be careful not to use the entire container early in the workout. You don't want to feel bloated or be without anything to drink.
  • Take frequent breaks. Look for areas of shade to cool off.
3) Exercise Duration & Selection
  • Exercise can't be over-the-top-balls-to-the-wall intense. Keep the session moderate or light intensity around 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Don't do a handstand or anything where your head is upside-down. The blood rushing to your face is a terrible and nauseating feeling.
  • If you're lifting, stick to low volume. Sets of 4 reps and keeping it 10 total reps or below is a good idea. For example, 2x3, 4x2, or 5x1 all would be great parameters to work with. Static holds like planks shouldn't be held too long - 20 seconds max.
  • Take breaks of 2 minutes or more to get control of your breathing, find some shade, and allow your body to handle the heat.
4) Recovery
  • After your session, take 5-10 minutes to cool down. Perform a mix of light activity such as walking, going up & down stairs, jumping jacks, arm circles, planks, push-ups, stretching, or other bodyweight movements. Give your body a moment to readjust to resting mode.
  • Meditation is a useful tool. When you complete the cool down, find a quiet spot, close your eyes and take 10-15 minutes to focus on your breathing.
  • Take a shower to wash the sweat off and de-stress.
If you don't exercise regularly, I suggest skipping exercise altogether in hot weather. Some may say it's crazy to do anything in the heat. It's not crazy. Whether it's practice or a game, athletes play in this weather.

I did it twice the past two or three weeks - once yesterday and another time in late May. I noticed the weather was well over 90 degrees and thought it would be interesting to try. The worst thing about it? Having to hold a barbell while your feet are on fire.
Why would I do it? Well it's a nice test of mental toughness (albeit not a huge one) and I like a challenge as much as the next guy/gal.

Secondly, some of the most bad ass athletes did out-of-the-box stuff. Take for instance Vasily Alexeev. This guy would toss weights into the Volga river and lift. I don't have a river nearby - not that I'd go into any of these murky waters - but I'll gladly try something new.

But back to the main point. You can exercise in hot weather as long as you're smart about it. Take a barbell, dumbbells, kettebells outside or perform bodyweight exercise.

Just have fun with it.


  1. Mhmmm, as a Houston-dweller, heat's nothing to take lightly. I've had to deal with my share of people who didn't realize they were getting too hot. A danger sign is actually going pale. That's when you're in a spot where you could either faint or puke...neither fun.

    I'd like to add, never gulp fluid when you're already deheyrdrated or overheated. Sip. I've seen people start chugging and promptly start vomiting.

  2. Thanks Mimi! I didn't know either of those facts.

    Heat's not to be taken lightly. I've seen people pass out from just being in the sun too long - one instance a girl passed out because she didn't eat breakfast or have any fluids.

  3. In summer in Melbourne, it regularly gets really hot, up above 35 degrees (Celsius) in the city.

    When I have to train in that weather, I bring two water bottles, one for drinking, and one to pour over my head and face, the evaporation really helps with not sweating (and dehydrating) as much.

  4. Definitely Nick. Can't argue with more water, especially if you run the risk of running low.


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