Wherever you’re reading this blog from, odds are it’s a scorcher outside. We’ve seen many parts of the U.S. hit consistent triple digits in the past few weeks, especially in the South, Southwest, and along the Gulf Coast, where heat advisories have been issued more than once. There’s no denying that it’s really hot this summer, which makes getting in outdoor workouts more challenging than the rest of the year.
If your body’s temperature regulation system is overtaxed, you’re at risk of developing a heat-related illness, such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Even easy days outside in extreme heat can be dangerous if your body is not properly prepped for them.
We also know that you don’t want to stop putting in work over the summer—because we don’t either. As long as you prepare for your hot weather workouts and make sure you’re recovering and rehydrating properly, there are safe ways to keep your workouts outdoors. Here’s how to stay cool outside while working out during the summer months.
The Prep: Pre-Workout
1. Stay Hydrated
This one’s the most important.
“Dehydrated athletes with just a two percent fluid loss decrease in performance by at least six to seven percent, and fluid loss of three percent and greater is considered unsafe,” says Kelsey Beckmann, RD.
Beckmann, who also competed in the 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, recommends preventing dehydration by calculating and meeting your daily hydration needs.
To calculate, start with a baseline of drinking half your weight (in pounds) through fluids (in ounces). Then, calculate your hourly sweat rate by taking your pre-exercise weight minus your post-exercise weight. Add any fluid intake during exercise back in to the total. Every pound lost during exercise equals 16 ounces.
2. Wear the Right Clothes
In hot weather, choose lightweight, loose clothing made from sweat-wicking materials. It’ll help sweat evaporate and keep you cooler. Bright colors will also help you reflect the sun, as will a lightweight, light-colored hat and UV ray-blocking sunglasses.
3. Put On Sunscreen
Lather up. Sunburn decreases your body's ability to cool itself and increases your risk of skin cancer. Opt for a waterproof sunscreen with an SPF of at least 50 so it doesn’t come off when you’re sweating and protects you against the strongest sun.
4. Keep Cool While You Can
To prepare for the heat, sometimes that means taking a cold shower before you start the workout—and keeping your hair wet afterwards to help you stay cool. If you don’t have time for a cold shower, wet your head with cool water or a damp bandana. And if you can sit in the AC beforehand, even better.
5. Timing Is Everything
During the summer, 10am-3pm is the hottest time of the day. If you’re planning an outdoor workout, try to get it in before or after those hours if you can—the earlier in the morning and the later at night, the better. Keep an eye on your local weather forecast, too.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, “timing is everything” also applies to training for an upcoming competition. If you’re going to be competing in hot weather soon, it could help to train during these hot hours at least a few times before to help acclimate yourself so your body isn’t shocked during competition.
6. Be Flexible
On excessively hot days, be smart. If there’s a heat advisory in your area, your best decision to stay cool and avoid heat-related illnesses may be to take your workout indoors—or even move it to a pool.
The Cooldown: Post-Workout
1. Hop in the Ice Bath
Fill up your tub with ice, or just keep your shower on its coldest settings. Anyone who’s ever done an ice bath or cold plunge knows it’ll cool you right down. Focusing on your breath will help you remain calm in the cold and extend your exposure.
2. Let the Water Run
After you’re done with your workout, or even during your workout, drench yourself. Dump some of your water bottle out over your head or behind your neck, run through a nearby sprinkler, or if you’re near a drinking fountain, put your face in there and splash it on your arms and legs. If your workout ends at home, jump right in a cold shower.
Basically, whatever kind of immediate water source you can access post-workout, use it.
3. Lose the Towel
If you do hop in a cold shower right after your workout, pat dry with a towel, but then lose it. Try to air dry if you can. The towel will trap heat around your body. Air-drying will cool down your body more than drying off with a thick towel.
4. Change Clothes
If you can’t get to a shower right away post-workout, swap out your sweaty clothes for dry clothes to keep them from trapping heat.
5. Ice Down the Body
If you don’t have access to an ice bath, simple ice packs and cubes or a towel in the freezer can get the job done. Putting ice on your pulse points—your wrists and sides of your neck—work well to cool you down. Since the blood vessels in those areas are close to the surface of your skin, the cold will bring your body temperature down much quicker.
6. Eat a Popsicle
This one’s the most delicious way to cool down. For a healthier, protein-packed popsicle, try making a PWR Pop. Pour some PWR LIFT in popsicle molds, toss them in the freezer before your workout, and have a delicious post-workout treat waiting for you when you finish. You can also pour PWR LIFT in an ice cube tray and use them with water for a cold refreshment.
7. Fill Your Fridge with Household Items
It sounds weird, but your refrigerator can really come in handy to keep more than just food and drink cold.
Store your daily moisturizer or body lotion in there so you can lather cold cream on your face and body for an extra couple minutes of cool. If you prefer to work out at night, you could even pop your pillowcase in a plastic bag in the fridge before you head out. When you’re ready for bed, take it out and slip it back on your pillow for a cooler sleeping temperature.
8. Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Speaking of sleep… getting a good night’s sleep matters even more than usual when the temperatures are spiking. You can feel extra run-down and sleepy in hot weather, so make sure you’re prioritizing your rest and recovery just as much as your workouts.
And don’t be afraid to take an extra rest day if your body feels like it needs it. Rest days will ultimately make you physically and mentally stronger.
9. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
We talked about it above in the pre-workout section, but in the post-workout section, we saved the best and most important one for last. If you’re working out for a prolonged period of time, especially in the heat, you might want to consider rehydrating with a sports drink in addition to water to better replenish your body’s electrolyte supply.
Clocking in at 650mg of electrolytes, PWR LIFT is positioned to restock important minerals lost in sweat that play key roles in your body’s functioning—every day, but especially on the hottest of days when you need that extra boost. We mentioned freezing PWR LIFT into popsicles above, but you don’t have to be that creative if you don’t have time. Keeping your fridge stocked so you can grab a cold one right when you get back from your workout, or even taking one with you as a head out the door, will help you avoid heat-related illnesses and keep your body functioning at the high level you need it to before, during, and after your hot weather workouts.
So be smart out there in the heat this summer. Stay safe, stay hydrated, work hard, and, as always, PWR UP.