Short term heat acclimation improves the determinants of endurance performance and 5,000m running performance in the heat

Carl James, Alan Richardson, Peter Watt, Ashley Willmott, Oliver Gibson, Neil Maxwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study investigated the effect of 5 days controlled hyperthermia 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 -1), differentiated thermal and exercise contributions of STHA on exercise performance. Seventeen participants (10 STHA, 7 CON) completed graded exercise tests (GXT) in cool (13°C, 50% RH, pre training) and hot conditions (32°C, 60% RH, pre and post training), as well as 5 km time trials (TT) in the heat, pre and post training. STHA reduced resting (p=0.01) and exercising (p=0.04) TCORE 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 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 V̇O2max between STHA +4.0 (2.2) (7.3[4.0]%) and CON +1.9(3.7) (3.8[7.2]%). Running economy 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 to 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 V̇O2max and specific thermoregulatory and associated thermal perception adaptations absent in normothermic training.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)285-294
Number of pages10
JournalApplied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2016

Bibliographical note

© 2016, NRC Research Press. This is an author produced version of a paper published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy.


  • Heat acclimation
  • hyperthermia
  • endurance
  • V4O2max
  • thermoregulation


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