Is a sauna after workout useful?

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Each time you finish your workout, you take a series of measures for a more complete and faster recovery. Everything is used – from drinking / not drinking water to things like closing a protein or protein-carbohydrate window. All these are extremely important aspects of recovery after training. Also, these activities stimulate your anabolic balance, helping to achieve greater strength and endurance.

However, in the pursuit of an ideal functional body, many athletes cross the line and begin to experiment with things that are not related to a healthy lifestyle and can rather harm than help. Doubtful and highly controversial methods of recovery include a sauna after training.

The influence of the sauna after the workout on the athlete’s body

Now many fitness centers have saunas. There are different options:

  1. Hammam.
  2. Classic sauna.
  3. Russian bath.

And with a dozen different innovations, which, in theory, should help you achieve your goals during training. But are they safe? And most importantly – are there any real benefits and effectiveness from them?

Before answering the question of whether it is possible to visit a dry sauna after a workout, it is necessary to find out its effect on the body. To do this, you will have to go a little deeper into biochemistry and physiology. Let’s start in order.

The influence of the sauna after workout

Lactic acid   

If you know how to properly take a sauna after a workout, then by increasing body temperature you can slow down the synthesis of lactic acid and quickly remove it from the body. This is due to the following factors:

  • liquefaction of blood and macronutrients under the influence of temperature;
  • metabolic acceleration in the process of thermoregulation;
  • lactic acid is partially dehydrated, which reduces its negative effect on the body.

Gym with sauna is stress for the body

In the process of training, our body experiences severe stress, which triggers the super-recovery mechanism. Sometimes stress is excessive, which leads to overtraining and a rollback of strength indicators several months ago, or creates a plateau effect. Sauna helps to get rid of stress. In a sauna, the body produces endorphins (not to confuse with dopamine), which leads to a decrease in the catabolic factor in the short term and acts as a prevention of overtraining.

Protein and glycogen resynthesis

Sauna optimizes all body resources for thermoregulation. For this reason, protein resynthesis slows down, which impairs recovery and almost completely eliminates the effect of closing the protein window. A similar situation is with glycogen resynthesis, which affects the closure of the carbohydrate window.

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Sauna before or after workout influence the water-salt balance

Another extremely negative factor is a violation of the water-salt balance. Even if you drink enough fluids during, before, and after your workout, you are not getting the right amount of minerals and salts. They are restored within the next 1-2 days only as a result of eating. In the case of a sauna, you exacerbate this effect, since you remove the rest of the salts with additional sweat, which inevitably stands out during a stay in an excessively hot room. All this is fraught with demineralization of the body and other unpleasant consequences.

Sauna after the workout helps to lose weight

The only goal that a sauna can really help achieve is intense weight loss. But even in this case, the procedure should be treated with extreme caution.

Recall that our body is constantly exposed to thermoregulation. During training, due to the significant release of energy, you create additional heat that accelerates metabolism and stimulates calorie consumption. Energy deficit is compensated after training by taking the right amount of nutrients.

Sauna after workout helps to lose weight

But the infrared sauna after training is a relatively safe procedure that allows you to lose excess weight. And most interestingly, not only water will leave, but also fat deposits. But glycogen will remain virtually untouchable.

Why is this happening? The fact is that after training, our body is in an overclocked state, therefore, it is ready to receive energy with an equal degree both from glycogen and from triglycerides that are more complex in structure. However, when the temperature rises, the triglyceride cells take a more pliable and plastic form, while glycogen “burns out” only during motor activity. All this stimulates active fat burning. So in 1 hour of a good steam room, you can burn up to 700 kcal, which is similar to the amount of energy spent on the training itself. In other cases, the advantages of such a procedure and its safety remain a big question.

The danger of taking a sauna after a workout

Unfortunately, despite some positive effects, in general, a sauna is an extremely dangerous institution for athletes, especially during intensive cutting. And if you don’t feel much changes during a day’s mass collection during proper use of the liquid during a sauna visit, then using this procedure for additional weight loss is fraught with dangerous consequences, although it will help drain almost all excess water.

The body during training greatly accelerates the heart. This stimulates the formation of lactic acid, but the most important thing is that the heart, like any other muscle group, has a sensitivity threshold, after which it starts to work worse, i.e. get tired.

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As a rule, training of athletes on cutting is characterized by the increased cardio load. Accordingly, the pulse zone is between the fat burning and the formation of scar tissue, however, with the right approach to training, this does not lead to negative consequences. At the same time, after training, the heart is in a state of fatigue, and it needs to recover before the next load. Due to pre-fatigue, it has increased excitability, so any load will lead to an increase in heart rate. Sauna also increases the heart rate for temperature regulation. In the short term with severe fatigue, you can easily get a heart attack. Another danger is an excessive thickening of the blood, which will lead to the formation of a blood clot and instant death.

But even if you get enough fluid during the day and during the training process, the heart muscle in the sauna can remain in a state for a long time in which micro-fractures will not overgrow with muscle tissue, but with connective tissue. As a result, in just a month, you will turn from a healthy person into a disabled person suffering from serious heart failure.

 How to use a sauna after a workout

How to go to the sauna after a workout to minimize harm and benefit? Some simple recommendations will help protect you from a heart attack and other unpleasant consequences.

  1. Do not use the sauna during intense workouts, so as not to disperse heart rate.
  2. Do not use the sauna during cutting due to excessive dehydration, especially in the last stages.
  3. Close the protein and carbohydrate window at least 10 minutes before taking a sauna. Only in this case, you will reduce the effect of catabolism caused by the training process.
  4. Do not go to the sauna if you feel nauseous or unwell.
  5. Replenish fluid balance in the body in advance. The preferred option is mineral water with a serious alkaline addition (medical).
  6. When in a sauna, have an additional source of water near you.
  7. Never leave the sauna abruptly.
  8. Do not bring the temperature and humidity to uncomfortable rates.
  9. Do not spend more than 40 minutes in the sauna. In the case of an infrared sauna, the period is even shorter.

Types of saunas and their effect on the body

Consider how different types of saunas, Turkish baths, and baths affect the body, and how useful a classic sauna after training.

Procedure Principle of exposure Effect on the athlete’s body
Turkish bath Turkish bath with an integrated swimming pool. The effect of steam is low, high humidity. It increases perspiration, stimulates a decrease in body fat, and an additional loss of energy associated with body thermoregulation. The presence of a pool nearby allows you to avoid dehydration during the procedure.
It has an extremely high load on the cardiovascular system. Reduces the synthesis of new protein and glycogen. Stimulates the release of endorphins.
Dry sauna, electric sauna The use of dry air heating to create minimal perspiration with high-intensity heating of the body. Dry air stimulates its perspiration, but its intensity is incomparable with the increased load on the cardiovascular system.
Stimulates the release of endorphins. It does not cause dehydration, it helps in the fight against colds.

For sporting achievements – is meaningless. It has an extremely high load on the cardiovascular system. Reduces the synthesis of new protein and glycogen.

Infrared sauna Heating exclusively the body without the external environment. The effectiveness of such a sauna is extremely doubtful.
Bath with brooms, wet sauna, Russian bath Moist water treatment with a mechanical abrasive effect on the skin. Increased sweating, acceleration of body fat, and loss of energy associated with thermoregulation of the body.
It has an extremely high load on the cardiovascular system. Reduces the synthesis of new protein and glycogen.
Combined procedures It implies the use of a contrast shower after the main heating procedure. A contrast shower after warming reduces the load on the vascular system but can lead to fainting due to a sharp change in internal pressure.

Destroying the myths about the infrared saunas

What is the use of an infrared sauna after training? It is useless!

Even though it warms up the body faster and more accurately without warming the ambient air, it does not bring any benefits to the body.

In this case, the use of the infrared spectrum of radiation is fraught with very unpleasant consequences:

  • Overheating of the body. Due to the lowered humidity of the environment, the body does not always cope with thermoregulation on its own, since it does not have the main conductor of heat capacity – water.
  • Change in internal pressure. The body is heated separately from the entire environment.
  • Lack of moisture leads to dehydration without further replenishment.
  • The load on the heart and blood vessels.

Note: you can just as well take sunbaths. Despite their relative benefits, they will be identical inefficiency to an infrared sauna.


So, is it possible to go to the sauna after training? In case you have a healthy heart and normal vessels, a sauna, like any other water procedure, will not do you any tangible harm. However, remember that a sauna is primarily a hygienic procedure that does not have a pronounced positive effect on recovery processes.

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