As summertime approaches many athletes will undertake their rigorous off-season training programs. With temperatures and humidity rising, summer training is the perfect time to use the tough conditions to an athlete’s advantage, allowing for an environment usually even more demanding than that of the one we compete in. However, in order to gain the biggest rewards from those hard-earned strength and conditioning gains, every athlete must train safely and responsibly. Check out some of these tips for training properly during the summertime heat!
- Hydrate, hydrate, HYDRATE! Now this tip may seem like beating a dead horse, but it is surprising how many athletes don’t consume enough fluids to allow their bodies to perform at peak levels. Fluids are responsible for regulating body temperature, maintaining proper nutrient circulation, and keeping joints lubricated, just to name a few of the reasons why they are necessary for any athlete. In order to ensure you are consuming enough, it is essential to first understand the proper regimen to staying hydrated. Follow these general guidelines to help get you started:
- Drink 17 to 20 ounces of water 2 to 3 hours before you start exercising
- Drink 8 ounces of water 20 to 30 minutes before you start exercising or during your warm-up
- Drink 7 to 10 ounces of water every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise
- Drink 8 ounces of water no more than 30 minutes after you exercise
It is best to avoid consumption of sports drinks unless you are performing over an hour of continuous strenuous exercise. Otherwise, stick to water!
- Avoid peak sun. Peak sun generally lasts from about 11am to 2pm. If possible, take all measures to avoid training outside during these hours. If you don’t have the option, ensure that you are following the above fluid guidelines and protecting your skin with sunscreen before you head outdoors.
- Warm-up. Don’t forget to warm-up even when it’s hot outside! Athletes should use their warm-up to properly prepare their bodies for the demands of the workout to follow. Be sure that your warm-up includes dynamic movements similar to those of the ones you will be performing during your workout, some corrective exercises, and reaches an intensity that begins to place stress on the cardiovascular system.
- Eat enough carbohydrates. As summertime rolls around, it is common for athletes to commit an increased amount of time to their training. Since the primary source of fuel for an athlete is carbohydrates, it is important to ensure that the intake remains high enough to allow for proper recovery and energy levels. Ideally, carbohydrates should make up about 55-65% of an athlete’s diet. Focus on complex carbs to fuel your workouts (whole-grain breads and pasta, rice, oats, starchy vegetables and beans). Don’t forget that fruit contains a high amount of healthy carbohydrates and serves as a great summertime snack!
- Supplement. If you’re looking to get stronger over the summer months, adequate protein intake is another essential consideration. Protein is necessary for proper muscle development and recovery. Supplement your strength workouts with 20-30g of whey protein within 45 minutes to an hour—the “anabolic window”—following your session in order to better allow for muscle synthesis.
- Rest and recover. Workout stress + recovery = improvement. It’s that simple! Give yourself a day off each week to avoid overtraining.