Hot-water immersion (HWI) after training in temperate conditions has been shown to induce thermophysiological adaptations and improve endurance performance in the heat; however, the potential additive effects of HWI and training in hot outdoor conditions remain unknown. Therefore, this study aimed to determine the effect of repeated postexercise HWI in athletes training in a hot environment.
A total of 13 (9 female) elite/preelite racewalkers completed a 15-day training program in outdoor heat (mean afternoon high temperature = 34.6°C). Athletes were divided into 2 matched groups that completed either HWI (40°C for 30-40 min) or seated rest in 21°C (CON), following 8 training sessions. Pre-post testing included a 30-minute fixed-intensity walk in heat, laboratory incremental walk to exhaustion, and 10,000-m outdoor time trial.
Training frequency and volume were similar between groups (P = .54). Core temperature was significantly higher during immersion in HWI (38.5 [0.3]) than CON (37.8°C [0.2°C]; P .05). There were significant (P < .05) pre-post differences for both groups in submaximal exercising heart rate (∼11 beats·min-1), sweat rate (0.34-0.55 L·h-1) and thermal comfort (1.2-1.5 arbitrary units), and 10,000-m racewalking performance time (∼3 min).
Both groups demonstrated significant improvement in markers of heat adaptation and performance; however, the addition of HWI did not provide further enhancements. Improvements in adaptation appeared to be maximized by the training program in hot conditions.