Conquering the Heat: Staying Cool and Maximizing Performance in Summer CrossFit Workouts

CrossFit workouts challenge individuals both mentally and physically. This is why we like it, and why it gets results. For all of us at RF, who are no strangers to the grind, summer workouts present an additional hurdle—heat and high temperatures.

Exercising in hot weather requires extra caution to avoid overheating and potential health risks, but can still be done safely with knowledge and experience. In this blog, I’ll share a few essential tips to help you stay cool and maximize your performance during those scorching summer workouts.

First, a quick point – the reason why most CrossFit gyms are “open air” is so we can maximize our human potential. We already spend the majority of our lives in climate controlled spaces, so if we only workout in climate controlled space, that will only make us good at working out … in climate controlled space.

We should desire to be the most potent human possible, which means being capable of some form of physical performance in all weather scenarios. Our bodies perform differently when its 58 degrees than when it’s 98. We should know what that feels like so we can approach that situation smartly. When it’s 58, I need more warmup. When it’s 98, I need more breaks and to pace my workout more.

If you are new to working out in open air, start slow, and embrace it as a learning opportunity. Don’t let the hot air and humidity frustrate you. It’s normal to be a little slower! Remember the fact that you are still DOING IT, while most opt out. This is a win in and of itself. We can only grow and become stronger when we choose to put ourselves in growth scenarios.

So without further ado, some tips for success!

Hydration is Key:

The foundation of staying cool in the heat lies in maintaining proper hydration. When temperatures soar, your body sweats more to cool down, increasing the risk of dehydration. Before your workout, drink plenty of fluids and continue hydrating throughout the day. Opt for water, or electrolyte-rich beverages to replenish the minerals lost through sweating. Make it a habit to carry a water bottle and take small sips frequently during your workouts.

How much?

On a “normal day” the goal is to drink half of your body weight in ounces. So if I’m 200lb, I should drink about 100oz a day. If it’s hot and humid and I’m working out at noon, adding 25% is a good start.

Also, the more you sweat, the more you should add salt/electrolytes. Many of us at RF love LMNT. I (Rob) personally use 2 packets on days I sweat a lot. When I use only 1, I feel more lethargic.

Last note – the old “pee test” is still good for determining how hydrated you are. Very light yellow is the goal. Dark yellow is dehydrated.

Time Your Workouts (If Able):

The timing of your workouts can make a significant difference when it comes to exercising in hot temperatures. Avoid exercising during the hottest parts of the day, typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun is at its peak. Instead, plan your workouts for early morning or late evening when the temperatures are cooler. This way, you can minimize your exposure to extreme heat and make your workouts more enjoyable.

If you can’t move your workout around, don’t sweat it. Just adjust your pacing accordingly and know you may have to go a little slower at the noon class to survive the heat!

Dress Appropriately:

Choose your workout attire carefully to help regulate your body temperature. Opt for lightweight and breathable clothing that allows air circulation and promotes sweat evaporation. Moisture-wicking fabrics, such as polyester or bamboo blends, are ideal as they keep you dry by drawing sweat away from your body. Consider wearing a hat or a visor to shield your face from direct sunlight if we’re running outside.

Listen to Your Body:

One of the most critical aspects of exercising in the heat is paying attention to your body’s signals. We should be particularly mindful of any signs of overheating or heat-related illnesses, such as dizziness, nausea, rapid heartbeat (more than normal), or muscle cramps. If you experience any of these symptoms, take a break, find a cool spot, and rehydrate. Don’t push yourself too hard; it’s better to scale back the intensity of your workout and stay safe.

Conclusion:

Exercising in hot temperatures can be challenging, but with the right precautions, you can continue your fitness journey while staying cool and safe. Remember to prioritize hydration, time your workouts wisely, dress appropriately, and most importantly, listen to your body. By incorporating these tips into your routine, you’ll be able to enjoy your summer workouts while achieving your fitness goals without compromising your health.

Bonus!

Body Temperature Regulation: Exposing your body to cold water before a workout in high heat can help lower your core body temperature. This pre-cooling effect can potentially enhance your exercise performance by allowing you to start your workout with a lower body temperature. It can also delay the onset of heat-related fatigue. Cold plungeeeeee!

people working out in a group fitness class

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