n International SportMed Journal - Heat adaptation : guidelines for the optimisation of human performance : review article

Volume 7, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1528-3356



During extended heat exposure, humans can experience three phases of heat adaptation. These start with the cardiovascular, sudomotor and neuroendocrine reactions induced by an acute heat exposure, progressing to an amplification of these responses (Phase two: positive adaptation), and possibly ending with the more efficient negative adaptation (Phase three) seen in indigenes from hot climates, where skin blood flow and sweating are reduced. This review briefly describes these physiological changes and provides a theoretical background underpinning adaptation strategies. Gender differences in the acute and adaptation responses are not discussed. Using simple modelling, there is a development of the key principles that are essential to evaluating the need for heat adaptation in various sports, and there is discussion of the disadvantages of heat adaptation. Several adaptation practices are described and evaluated relative to the needs of the athlete. From these, it is concluded that living and training under hot conditions may best improve performance in the heat. However, since high-intensity training is invariably hard to sustain in the heat, it is recommended that athletes live in the heat, experience heat under the pressure of competition, acclimate for a specific climate and then undertake high-quality training in the cool. Athletes must not ignore the psychological aspects of preparing for competition in the heat, since inappropriate choices can undo years of physiological preparation.

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