Effectiveness of short-term heat acclimation for highly trained athletes

Abstract

Effectiveness of short-term acclimation has generally been undertaken using untrained and moderately-trained participants. The purpose of this study was to determine the impact of short-term (5-day) heat acclimation on highly trained athletes. Eight males (mean ± SD age 21.8 ± 2.1 years, mass 75.2 ± 4.6 kg, \( \dot{V}\)O2peak 4.9 ± 0.2 L min−1 and power output 400 ± 27 W) were heat acclimated under controlled hyperthermia (rectal temperature 38.5°C), for 90-min on five consecutive days (T a = 39.5°C, 60% relative humidity). Acclimation was undertaken with dehydration (no fluid-intake) during daily bouts. Participants completed a rowing-specific, heat stress test (HST) 1 day before and after acclimation (T a = 35°C, 60% relative humidity). HST consisted 10-min rowing at 30% peak power output (PPO), 10 min at 60% PPO and 5-min rest before a 2-km performance test, without feedback cues. Participants received 250 mL fluid (4% carbohydrate; osmolality 240–270 mmol kg−1) before the HST. Body mass loss during acclimation bouts was 1.6 ± 0.3 kg (2.1%) on day 1 and 2.3 ± 0.4 kg (3.0%) on day 5. In contrast, resting plasma volume increased by 4.5 ± 4.5% from day 1 to 5 (estimated from [Hb] & Hct). Plasma aldosterone increased at rest (52.6 pg mL−1; p = 0.03) and end-exercise (162.4 pg mL−1; p = 0.00) from day 1 to 5 acclimation. During the HST T re and f c were lowered 0.3°C (p = 0.00) and 14 b min−1 (p = 0.00) after 20-min exercise. The 2-km performance time (6.52.7 min) improved by 4 s (p = 0.00). Meaningful physiological and performance improvements occurred for highly trained athletes using a short-term (5-day) heat acclimation under hyperthermia control, with dehydration.

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Acknowledgments

Special thanks are given to the participants in this study and the technical expertise provided by Mrs R. McKay and Miss D. Wilson. This work was supported by grants from the Australian Defence Science Technology Organisation and School of Physical Education, University of Otago, New Zealand.

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Correspondence to Andrew T. Garrett.

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Communicated by Narihiko Kondo.

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Garrett, A.T., Creasy, R., Rehrer, N.J. et al. Effectiveness of short-term heat acclimation for highly trained athletes. Eur J Appl Physiol 112, 1827–1837 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-011-2153-3

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Keywords

  • Elite
  • Performance
  • Dehydration
  • Fluid regulation
  • Plasma volume