If you want to increase your strength, endurance, and athletic performance, you might want to slow down and spend some time inside a portable infrared sauna. This might sound counterintuitive; after all, how would you get stronger and build more muscle just by sitting inside a hot room? Yet science is starting to uncover evidence that supports this theory.
Saunas Stimulate Hyperthermic Conditioning
Hyperthermic conditioning is a term for what happens to the human body when exposed to hot conditions like the one you’ll find inside a portable sauna. Your body experiences physiological changes when exposed to high levels of heat.
• Your plasma volume increases.
The dry heat inside a portable far infrared sauna is known to increase plasma volume. This increases the flow of blood to your heart. This means that your heart is able to pump the same amount of blood with significantly less effort and strain. Studies have found that this process improves endurance in both amateur and highly-trained athletes, on top of lowering the risk for cardiovascular diseases.
• Your muscles receive more oxygen and nutrients.
Sitting inside a sauna boosts blood circulation. Therefore, more oxygen and essential nutrients are delivered to your muscles. Because of this, you rely less on glycogen (glucose), enabling you to work out longer without running out of energy. One study found that muscle glycogen can be reduced by as much as 50% though hyperthermic conditioning. This allows for a tremendous increase in endurance and strength.
• Your muscles become more efficient at removing wastes.
Metabolic wastes like lactic acid can prevent your muscles from performing at peak level. Saunas increase your blood flow, which also increases your muscle’s efficiency to get rid of these wastes.
• You get to exercise for longer periods without overheating.
With regular sauna use, you experience what’s called heat acclimation. It helps your body become more adept at handling sweaty and stressful workouts. When you become used to sitting inside a hot sauna, you prevent your core temperature from rising too much, and this allows you to work out without overheating.
• Your muscles better eliminate fat cells and toxins.
Sweating also assists in flushing out toxins in your body. These toxins are stored inside your fat cells, but sweating triggers these fat cells. Therefore, you simultaneously remove fat cells and toxins, setting the stage for building muscles.
• You stand to gain more lean muscle.
The dry heat inside a sauna decreases the amount of protein being broken down inside your muscles. In turn, this enhances protein synthesis. Keep in mind that protein is the building block of muscle. So the more protein is available in your body, the more lean muscle mass you can build.
• You prevent lean muscle loss.
Protective stress response proteins called heat shock proteins are released when you sit inside a sauna. During this process, the heat prevents protein from being degraded. This prevents lean muscle loss because the proteins are preserved better.
Anyone can gain these benefits, from beginners who want to extend the duration of their workouts to serious bodybuilders or power lifters. You don’t even have to spend a lot of time inside a sauna; a 30-minute session several times a week would be enough to help you take advantage of the performance-enhancing benefits of saunas.