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Feeling Boxed In By CrossFit? Ready To Take Your Knowledge To Your Own Garage Gym Instead?

If the answer is “yes”, then you’re not alone! While CrossFit gyms exploded in the years 2011 through 2015, the once massively popular, cult-like, gritty exercise regimen has slowed down in popularity and appears to be in a consolidation phase, likely due to a confluence of events.

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When is it too Hot for a CrossFit Workout?

How to train CrossFit in the heat

It’s that time of year again. Summer, when the days are longer and the sun is hotter, can either super- charge your CrossFit workout or knock you on your butt!

A vigorous workout in the summer heat can certainly lead to serious health consequences, but, to the surprise on no one who has ever sweated through and benefitted from Bikram yoga program, it can also enhance the performance impact of the activity. To quote Don Schlitz, who wrote the song most likely to be sung by the every one of the slightly-overserved patrons of any karaoke bar south of the Mason-Dixon Line – The Gambler  – “You gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away and know when to run!

The Heat is On

Glenn Fry – 1985

Your mama probably warned you about playing outside in the summer heat and most likely you disregarded everything that saintly woman ever said!  Like a lot of motherly admonitions, this advice to “play in the shade” was based some science and some old wives’ tales.

First off, the bad news. She was right. If you overdo anything – from playing golf to flipping truck tires in a CrossFit class – when the temperature is 103 in the shade, you can find yourself dehydrated, disoriented or dead. Fortunately, dying from a heat stroke is extremely rare. One will typically become incapacitated with heat exhaustion symptoms long before the Grimm Reaper of Heat comes to fetch you!

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 2,000 U.S. citizens die of heat-related causes each year. The agency notes, “Exposure to extreme natural heat poses a public health problem because it may result in heat-related illness (e.g., heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat syncope, and heat stroke) and heat-related death. Exposure to extreme natural heat also may result in death because it exacerbates preexisting chronic conditions (e.g., cardiovascular, cerebral, and respiratory diseases), and because patients receiving psychotropic drug treatment for mental disorders and those taking medications that affect the body’s heat regulatory system or have anticholinergic effects are more susceptible to heat effects.”  

Hot Fun in the Summer Time

Sly and the Family Stone – 1969

For all of the bad news about the dangers of working out in the heat, there is some great news for athletes who want to increase the physical benefits of their work. While there will be copious sweat involved but slugging through a WOD when it’s hot as hell can result in exponential gain.

According to an article in Men’s Health Magazine, a heat-wave workout can do wonders for the athlete’s performance. “Researchers from the University of Oregon tracked the performance of 12 very high-level cyclists (10 male, two female) over a 10-day training period (with two days off in the middle) in 100-degree heat. Another control group did the exact same exercise regimen in a much more comfortable, 55-degree room. Both groups worked in 30% humidity.

Researchers discovered that the cyclists who worked through the heat improved their performance by 7% (a noticeable and significant amount in cycling), while the control group did not show any improvement. What surprised researchers most was that the experimental group not only showed that they had achieved a level of heat acclimation, but the training also helped them to function better in cooler environments.”

How to CrossFit outdoors

This research points to some “magic numbers” for working out in the heat:

101

The number of degrees Fahrenheit you need to elevate your core body temperature during training sessions.

60 

The number of minutes you want to have that elevated core temperature maintained during your heat training to make sure that you’re truly getting the heat acclimation benefits.

5 to 10  

The number of days you need to train in the heat. In order to really heat acclimate the way the researchers were proposing an athlete must go out and exercise in the heat for five to ten days, with pretty significant exposure at times.

Drop it Like its Hot

Snoop Dogg and Pharrell -2004

Dr. Michael Landers  who is  a sport medicine physician in Dallas and a member of the physician referral line at Texas Health Spine & Orthopedics Center has some words of advice for those who decide to take on the hot summer WOD’s

“It’s critical to stay hydrated,” Dr. Landers said. “You sweat more as it gets hotter and more humid. You need to ensure you are replacing those fluids as you run, bike, or do other workouts in such extreme weather.”

He recommends consuming 16 to 24 ounces of water two hours before exercising in hot temperatures. Past that, he says to take in another six to eight ounces of fluids every 15 to 20 minutes of exercise.  

“The humidity is also an important factor to consider for summer workouts,” he said. “During and after exercise, the body is cooled by the evaporation of sweat. When it is humid the athlete does not experience as much of that evaporative cooling effect because the air is saturated with humidity. On days when it is both hot and humid, take the WOD inside.

“The most important consideration for these summer workouts is proper acclimation,” Dr. Lander said. “In the summer we spend a lot of time in air conditioned spaces and when it comes time to exercise outdoors the sudden heat overwhelms the body.  Try to acclimate to the heat a few hours before your workout by going outside or at least raising the inside temperature.

“Finally, it is very important to take it easy in the beginning and gradually work into the extreme heat. Wear breathable clothing and ramp up the intensity over days. Don’t try to go full-bore if you are not used to the heat.”

He noted some signs to watch out for.

Heat Exhaustion Symptoms: Profuse sweating, severe headaches, dizziness and intense thirst.

Heat Stroke Symptoms: Lack of sweat in spite of heat, a core body temperature greater than 104 degrees Fahrenheit, with complications involving the central nervous system that occur after exposure to high temperatures. Other common symptoms include nauseaseizures, confusion, disorientation, and sometimes loss of consciousness or coma.

If these symptoms are noticed, call 911 immediately!

Have you had good experiences or bad experiences with working out in the hot summer sun? Contact us and we’ll share your story with our readers.

Water in/Water out: Why Hydration and Perspiration are the Yin and the Yang of Your Workout

CrossFit class

Is there anything better than a long drink of cold water after a grueling CrossFit class? The body craves it and there are very good reasons for this. Water regulates the body’s temperature, it lubricates those joints that have been pounded into submission and it also helps to transport nutrients, giving the athlete just enough energy to get up off the floor and go home!

If hydration is the yin of your workout, then perspiration is the yang.

In addition to being the body’s air conditioner, sweat has many other remarkable advantages. These range from purging toxins from the body to acting as an antibiotic for the skin.

Having the right amount of water coming in and going out in the form of sweat, is another part of getting fit. Here are some things to think about


Never Underestimate the Power of Hydration


How to stay Hydrated


According to FamilyDoctor.org, if an athlete is not properly hydrated, it is impossible for him/her to perform adequately. Without this water, muscle cramps, dizziness, fatigue or many other, more serious symptoms will occur. How much water is needed?

The American Council on Exercise has suggested the following basic guidelines for drinking water before, during, and after exercise:

  • Drink 17 to 20 ounces of water 2 to 3 hours before you start exercising
  • Drink 8 ounces of water 20 to 30 minutes before you start exercising or during your warm-up
  • Drink 7 to 10 ounces of water every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise
  • Drink 8 ounces of water no more than 30 minutes after you exercise

Athletes may want to measure how much fluid they lose during exercise to get a more specific measurement of how much water to drink (16 to 24 ounces of water for every pound of body weight lost).

Many athletes favor sports drinks instead of water. There are good and bad aspects of this hydration strategy. First the good: The potassium and nutrients in some sports drinks can help provide energy and electrolytes to help an athlete perform for a longer period of time.

Now here’s the bad: They are often high in calories from added sugar and may contain high levels of sodium. If the objective of a workout is to lose some weight, adding unnecessary calories is counterproductive. Plus, some sports drinks contain caffeine. All and all, water is the best, cheapest and most healthy drink to hydrate the body.

Signs of Dehydration

Dehydration occurs when an athlete loses more fluid than he drinks. When the body doesn't have enough water, it can't work properly. Dehydration can range from mild to severe. Symptoms of dehydration can include the following:

  • Dizziness or lightheaded feeling
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle cramps
  • Dry mouth
  • Lack of sweating
  • Hard, fast heartbeat

Symptoms of severe dehydration can include mental confusion, weakness, and loss of consciousness. You should get emergency medical attention immediately if you have any of these symptoms.

Too Much Agua

Weirdly as it seems, it is possible to drink too much water. This brings about a condition known as Hyponatremia which is a rare condition that happens when there is too little sodium in the body. It can occur in athletes who drink too much water. Athletes who participate in endurance activities (for example, marathons or triathlons) have a higher risk of hyponatremia. When sodium levels in your body are too low, your cells begin to swell with water. This can cause your brain to swell. It can also cause your lungs to fill with fluid. Symptoms of hyponatremia can include confusion, headache, vomiting, and swelling of the hands and feet.

How do you know you have an adequate amount of hydration? That’s simple. It’s all about the urine.  If his/her urine is consistently colorless or light yellow, the athlete is most likely staying well hydrated. Dark yellow or amber-colored urine is a sign of dehydration.

No Sweat? Big Problem

sweating from CrossFit workout

Perspiration may be the most under-rated bodily function in history. (I know what you’re thinking. And YES it’s just as important as THAT one!). For a CrossFit athlete and anyone else who gets hot and sweaty, it’s a miracle drug.

According to the Lifehack Blog , there are at least ten “amazing benefits” to sweat that most people never think of. These include:

  1.  Sweat glands help heal wounds

For the last few years, more and more research has been done on eccrine sweat glands which host an important reservoir of adult stem cells which aid in the process of wound closures.

  1.  Sweat enables toxin release

When the body heats up, toxins are released from our system using sweat as the conduit.  Experts agree that we mainly release excess salt, cholesterol and alcohol. Which means that a sweaty work-out will de-bloat us, clean our clogged arteries and help with a hangover?

  1.  Sweating is an antibiotic

If the skin is wounded by a small cut, a scratch, or the sting of a mosquito, antibiotic agents secreted in sweat glands, such as dermcidin, rapidly and efficiently kill invaders.

  1.  Sweating can inhibit kidney stones

Research shows that regular exercisers and dedicated water drinkers flush their system more efficiently and help to control the onset of kidney stones.  Sweating during exercise causes the body to demand more hydration which in turn keeps the kidneys flushed.

  1.  Regular physical training produces amazing sweat glands

CrossFitters push themselves into whole new arenas of training.  Fortunately, our body’s incredible anticipation of these sessions allows it to begin cooling earlier as well increasing the actual size of sweat glands to keep up with body’s needs.  

  1.  Sweat cleanses pollutants from the skin

The sweat glands tend to be one of the ways our body rids itself of dangerous pollutants such as BPA.  Even when not detected in blood or urine, our sweat has shown potential to effectively eliminate BPA from our system.

  1.  Sweating is happy juice for the brain

Getting good and sweaty can improve one’s demeanor but it is important to train with heavier weight training or anaerobic exertion to get the real benefit. A person’s endorphin level is unique and it will be through trial and error to find the right kind of physical activity that will induce your very own brain “opiates” and get you hooked on feeling the “rush” after sweating it out.

  1.  Sweat is a natural pain reliever

Those exercise endorphins not only stimulate the brain’s mood enhancers, they also are natural pain relievers.  Exercise stimulates neurochemical pathways in the brain, resulting in the production of endorphins that act as natural painkillers.

  1.  The zits take hit from perspiration

By opening up your pores, the perspiration process helps them release the grit and grime that holds in bacteria which as we all know, leads to ZITS.  

  1.  Sweating is a personal HVAC system

This is still the best reason for good, old fashion sweating. Regular exercise, which keeps the sweat glands in tip top shape, help our bodies regulate its temperature more easily.


Whether it is hydration or perspiration, to get the best benefit and stay safe in your CrossFit workout, watch the water!  Let us know what you think about this by posting on our Facebook page . Oh yeah…send this article to a friend. That’s what friends are for.