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Cycling in the heat: good or bad?

With the temperature in the summertime, it can be difficult for some to maintain a certain training or riding routine. Or you may be the opposite; embracing the heatwave and the good sweat feeling that comes with it. Beyond these inter-individual differences, there are physiological pros and cons to training in warm temperatures. Before we get into the practical aspect of it, let's explore the physiology behind it.

In hot temperatures, the body is working harder to cool off the body and increase overall stress. As a consequence, more blood is directed towards maintaining that state of homeostasis, reducing the blood flow going to the active muscles. Therefore, performance in warm temperature can be affected negatively and lead to adverse effects, such as heat stroke or dehydration.

With proper adaptation, that can also result in physiological improvements resulting from an increased central blood volume and possibly VO2max.

How can we benefit from both getting the adaptations and/or also maintaining the athletic performance? Here are a few tips to guide your riding during those times:

1) Drink plenty of fluids, before, during, and after your ride. Staying hydrated is key to cool-off the body. Add electrolytes and minerals in your bottles.

2) Fuel sufficiently; riding in the heat often burns more calories, even though the heat tends to cut the hunger. Be aware of it and fuel throughout the ride.

3) For a quality-workout, ride early or late in the day to avoid peak sun hours. Alternatively, try one of our live stream or recorded sessions.

4) If you ride during the heat, decrease your intensity, or focus on getting endurance miles. If your schedule allows, divide a long ride into two shorter ones.

5) Once your ride is completed, get changed, stay away from the sun, and rest in a cooler environment.

It is important to a) adapt progressively and b) pay attention to your body while riding in the heat. If in any case, you feel dizzy or a subtle temperature change, you should interrupt your ride, get in a cooler area and get some fluids as early as possible. If you are not comfortable in the heat but tolerate it, give your body the time to adapt and you may feel yourself stronger within a few weeks.

Enjoy the nice weather!

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