James, CA, Richardson, AJ, Watt, PW, Willmott, AGB, Gibson, OR, and Maxwell, NS. Short-term heat acclimation and precooling, independently and combined, improve 5-km time trial performance in the heat. J Strength Cond Res 32(5): 1366-1375, 2018-Following heat acclimation (HA), endurance running performance remains impaired in hot vs. temperate conditions. Combining HA with precooling (PC) demonstrates no additive benefit in intermittent sprint, or continuous cycling exercise protocols, during which heat strain may be less severe compared to endurance running. This study investigated the effect of short-term HA (STHA) combined with mixed methods PC, on endurance running performance and directly compared PC and HA. Nine amateur trained runners completed 5-km treadmill time trials (TTs) in the heat (32° C, 60% relative humidity) under 4 conditions; no intervention (CON), PC, short-term HA (5 days-HA) and STHA with PC (HA + PC). Mean (±SD) performance times were; CON 1,476 (173) seconds, PC 1,421 (146) seconds, HA 1,378 (116) seconds and HA + PC 1,373 (121) seconds. This equated to the following improvements versus CON; PC -3.7%, HA -6.6% and HA + PC -7.0%. Statistical differences were only observed between HA and CON (p = 0.004, d = 0.68, 95% CI [-0.27 to 1.63]) however, similar effect sizes were observed for HA + PC vs. CON (d = 0.70, 95% CI [-0.25 to 1.65]), with smaller effects between PC vs. CON (d = 0.34, 95% CI [-0.59 to 1.27]), HA vs. PC (d = 0.33, 95% CI [-0.60 to 1.26]) and HA + PC vs. PC (d = 0.36, 95% CI [-0.57 to 1.29]). Pilot testing revealed a TT typical error of 16 seconds (1.2%). Precooling offered no further benefit to performance in the acclimated individual, despite modest alleviation of physiological strain. Maintenance of running speed in HA + PC, despite reduced physiological strain, may indicate an inappropriate pacing strategy therefore, further familiarization is recommended to optimize a combined strategy. Finally, these data indicate HA, achieved through cycle training, yields a larger ergogenic effect than PC on 5-km running performance in the heat, although PC remains beneficial when HA is not possible.
This study investigated the effect of 5 days of controlled short-term heat acclimation (STHA) on the determinants of endurance performance and 5-km performance in runners, relative to the impairment afforded by moderate heat stress. A control group (CON), matched for total work and power output (2.7 W·kg(-1)), differentiated thermal and exercise contributions of STHA on exercise performance. Seventeen participants (10 STHA, 7 CON) completed graded exercise tests (GXTs) in cool (13 °C, 50% relative humidity (RH), pre-training) and hot conditions (32 °C, 60% RH, pre- and post-training), as well as 5-km time trials (TTs) in the heat, pre- and post-training. STHA reduced resting (p = 0.01) and exercising (p = 0.04) core temperature alongside a smaller change in thermal sensation (p = 0.04). Both groups improved the lactate threshold (LT, p = 0.021), lactate turnpoint (LTP, p = 0.005) and velocity at maximal oxygen consumption (vV̇O2max; p = 0.031) similarly. Statistical differences between training methods were observed in TT performance (STHA, -6.2(5.5)%; CON, -0.6(1.7)%, p = 0.029) and total running time during the GXT (STHA, +20.8(12.7)%; CON, +9.8(1.2)%, p = 0.006). There were large mean differences in change in maximal oxygen consumption between STHA +4.0(2.2) mL·kg(-1)·min(-1) (7.3(4.0)%) and CON +1.9(3.7) mL·kg(-1)·min(-1) (3.8(7.2)%). Running economy (RE) deteriorated following both training programmes (p = 0.008). Similarly, RE was impaired in the cool GXT, relative to the hot GXT (p = 0.004). STHA improved endurance running performance in comparison with work-matched normothermic training, despite equality of adaptation for typical determinants of performance (LT, LTP, vV̇O2max). Accordingly, these data highlight the ergogenic effect of STHA, potentially via greater improvements in maximal oxygen consumption and specific thermoregulatory and associated thermal perception adaptations absent in normothermic training.
Multistage, ultra-endurance events in hot, humid conditions necessitate thermal adaptation, often achieved through short term heat acclimation (STHA), to improve performance by reducing thermoregulatory strain and perceptions of heat stress. This study investigated the physiological, perceptual and immunological responses to STHA prior to the Marathon des Sables. Eight athletes (age 42 ± 4 years and body mass 81.9 ± 15.0 kg) completed 4 days of controlled hyperthermia STHA (60 min·day‒1, 45°C and 30% relative humidity). Pre, during and post sessions, physiological and perceptual measures were recorded. Immunological measures were recorded pre-post sessions 1 and 4. STHA improved thermal comfort (P = 0.02), sensation (P = 0.03) and perceived exertion (P = 0.04). A dissociated relationship between perceptual fatigue and Tre was evident after STHA, with reductions in perceived Physical (P = 0.04) and General (P = 0.04) fatigue. Exercising Tre and HR did not change (P > 0.05) however, sweat rate increased 14% (P = 0.02). No changes were found in white blood cell counts or content (P > 0.05). Four days of STHA facilitates effective perceptual adaptations, without compromising immune status prior to an ultra-endurance race in heat stress. A greater physiological strain is required to confer optimal physiological adaptations.