Thoughts and experiences with saunas for a training benefit

The discussion on saunas during the last podcast episode (#192) has piqued my interest. We actually had a sauna in the house I grew up in. I used it from time to time, but mainly because it felt good, not for any potential training benefit. This may explain why now, as an adult, I just love hot, dry weather and can’t stand the cold!? :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

As there seems to be mounting evidence of a training benefit, I’m considering getting one for my current home. Looks like you can get a freestanding sauna for around $1,000USD, which isn’t that bad relative to other equipment costs in this sport (e.g., bikes that cost > $10k)!

Here’s an example of a free-standing sauna:
https://www.amazon.com/JNH-Lifestyles-Canadian-Hemlock-Infrared/dp/B00F2Y5B6W

There are also portable saunas that go for around $250USD, like this one:
https://www.amazon.com/Radiant-Saunas-BSA6315-Oversized-Portable/dp/B01LEJACSK

Sure you’ll look dorky while using it, but it’s 1/4th the cost. I just wonder if you lose some benefit since your head isn’t in the heat? :thinking:

My questions:

  • Has anyone used either of these types of saunas in conjunction with their training?
  • Could you share your experience or any advice you may have?
  • What practical considerations should I be thinking about?

Here’s an article you might want to check out:

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A little more discussion here as well

Thanks for the pointer! After searching for “Stacy Sims and saunas” I was able to find one of the studies she sited. I was surprised to find how hot the sauna was for the test condition:

During the sauna period, subjects sat in a humid sauna at 89.9+/-2.0 degrees C (mean+/-standard deviation) immediately post-exercise for 31+/-5 min on 12.7+/-2.1 occasions.

That’s 190°F! :hotsprings:

None of the infrared saunas go nearly that high, usually in the 130–150°F range. Though I’ve read some sites that say that infrared saunas don’t need to go as high as a standard sauna.

Dr. Sims also pointed out that you can use a hot tub/spa as well. If you do, she says to make sure your hands and feet are in the water as they seem to be important in getting your mind/body to respond to the heat.

Hot tubs are nice but I’m sure the maintenance and energy costs are much higher than an infrared sauna, which I’m still seriously considering. Will continue my research…

Did you came to any conclusion? I’m trying to figure out whether a infrared sauna yields the same benefit compared to a traditional sauna or not… Researching this is really frustrating as infrared saunas are pretty much hyped nowadays so google mainly reports the usual advertising stuff…
I so far found only one study comparing FIR, traditional and no sauna…

Rhonda Patrick

Shes a bit of a ledge.

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I have both a sauna and a hot tub. The federal government has mandated that all hot tubs go no higher than 104 F (40 C). Based on Rhonda Patrick’s talks I have my sauna set at 183 F (84 C). My routine is to sit in the hot tub after a trainer workout using the jets to massage my legs, and 20+ min in the sauna before bed. I don’t know about training benefit, there are certainly lots of theoretical benefits to heat stress. I do know that I am putting out better numbers in my 60’s than I ever did during my racing days.

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Those better numbers disappeared when I got my Wahoo Kickr accurately calibrated. My FTP during racing days was in the mid 200’s slightly over 3.4 watts/kg. Its currently 185 or 2.6 watts/kg.

D’oh!