Working out in the heat – a summer exercise plan

Suspension trainer in the park

As a personal trainer working with clients through the summer heat can provide challenges. Exercising in the heat can put extra stress on our bodies, but that doesn’t mean we have to avoid exercising all together, in fact the more we can keep going the better, not only helping us to maintain our fitness levels, but also our mental wellbeing.  That said, we may need to adjust the way we exercise, by being careful about the intensity of the training, depending on the temperature, especially as it is possible we might not be as rested as we could be with disturbed sleep on hotter evenings.   

Just because the conditions have changed doesn’t mean that we have to miss out on a session, we just need to adapt and react to how we feel as we train.  Here are some things to consider:

  1. Keep hydrated during your work outs.
  2. Wear lighter, lose fitting clothing
  3. Take a cool shower before and after to keep cool.
  4. Train in the cooler parts of the day eg: morning or evening.
  5. Perhaps shift the focus to be on strength training vs cardio fitness.

One of the adaptions I like to make is to use a suspension trainer as pictured above, they are especially good to use with clients in the park or in the garden, as you can attach it to a tree and that usually means there is shade available too. Using the suspension straps to help support and change the intensity of the movements like squats and lunges, can really help on hot days and it adds variety and fun in to the sessions too. They are really portable bits of kit and they vary in price so can be very reasonably priced depending on the brand.

Other ways to adapt is to mix in more mobility and stretching movements into workout sessions – I tend to elongate the warm up by about 5 minutes. On a warm day we can make the most of the fact that the muscles will warm up quicker than normal and work on loosening off any sticky or stiff areas.

It’s important to listen to signals our bodies send us while we are working out, but especially during hot sessions. At the end of each set I like to check in, check the intensity and encourage drinking plenty of water.  Be mindful for any feeling of light-headedness, dizziness or lack of balance –  loss of colour in the face will give me a good idea that we need to rest more in between exercises.  

Below in an example of how I modify a workout plan if the weather and circumstances dictate a shift in workout style. Each set is repeated three times but can be reduced down to twice if needed.

SetsExercise plannedHot weather adaption
112 Kettlebell/weighted squat12 Suspension trainer squat and pulse.
 20 Squat jumpsStep ups with dumbbells 10 right leg lead, 10 left leg lead
212 Barbell deadlifts12 Resistance band deadlifts
 40 seconds skater jumps40 seconds of curtsey lungers
312 Dumbbell overhead presses12 Kettlebell upright rows
 40 seconds Jacks30 seconds kettlebell swings
412 Dumbbell chest flys12 Suspension trainer chest flys
 40 seconds burpees40 seconds elevated mountain climbers
540 seconds weighted walking lunges40 seconds ankle weight alternating lunges on the spot
 12 Barbell rows12 Suspension trainer rows
630 second Plank Jacks40 seconds Plank toe taps
 12 Weighted crunches20 Deadbugs
730 seconds weighted Russian twistsKeep as is.
 Dorsal raises 

It’s also important to remember that you can swap out a cardio and weights workout for a yoga or Pilates session if you need to bring the intensity down; walk or paddle by the river; swim or bike ride.

Trying not to train too late into the evening is important when it’s hot, it can be hard to get to sleep if your body is still warm from exercising, so plan your workout as much as you can and monitor how you feel as you go.

If you have any other concerns about training in the heat or would like some accountability to do so, please get in touch with any questions. Have a great summer!

Sara McDonnell

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