How Safe Are Group Workouts in the Heat?

Micki Pauley

Personal Training, Nutrition, Health


Cool weather is nice to workout in, warm weather helps you work up a sweat, but hot weather can make it difficult to even breathe while working out. So, what do you do? Do you workout at the same intensity as you would with cooler weather or do you take it down a notch?


Recent research1 suggests that we need to understand that in addition to increased perspiration while working out when the weather is hot, the heat has a positive effect on an individual’s blood plasma volume.



This, in turn, helps the individual become more conditioned, reduce core temperature, experience increases skeletal muscle force, and train better in cooler temperatures. “Heat training not only does a better job at increasing VO2 max than altitude, but it also makes individuals better at withstanding a wider range of temperatures (Brown).”


Embrace the Heat

My gym does not have air conditioning and we are smack dab in the middle of summer with temperatures ranging in the mid 80’s to low 90’s. So, training in the heat is certainly nothing new. The important thing for me is to make sure my clients stay hydrated.


A lot of my workouts are circuit based to ensure everyone is taking drinks often during class. I keep the circuits short, but intense. I may have anywhere between 2-4-minute circuits that create enough time for Warriors to get their heart rates up, but give them enough rest as not to overheat. This creates more time to stay hydrated during their workouts.



When groups are involved versus personal or private training, there is a lot more overhead that is involved, so safety always comes first. Coolers of water and ice are kept in the building at all times. We have two big industrial-sized fans, along with water bottles, to spray the members during and between circuits.


To help individuals become acclimated to the heat, keeping the workouts at a moderate pace and increasing the intensity over time is important to help the body become accustomed to the heat.


Sample Summertime Warrior Body Class
Warm up (drills vary each time)

Ladder drills – 6 minutes

Circuit 1 (4 min)

Exercise 1: Hammer slams x3 each side

Exercise 2: Keg (or KB) carry x 30 ft

Circuit 2 (4 min - partner station)

Exercise 1: 2 DB Z Press x10

Exercise 2: Squat hold until partner finished with presses

Circuit 3 (4 min)

Exercise 1: Monster walks x10 steps forward, 10 steps backward

Exercise 2: Stability ball plank roll in x10

Circuit 4 (4 min)

Exercise 1: Burpee Battle rope x2 slams (5x)

Exercise 2: Post delt band pull apart x10-15

Circuit 5 (4 min)

Exercise 1: Long jump with a backpedal x5

Exercise 2: Side shuffle with medicine ball slam x6 (total)

Finisher: Upper Body Burner

10 push ups

1 triceps dip

9 push ups

2 triceps dips

8 push ups

3 triceps dips


Complete this circuit until you get down to 1 push up and 10 triceps dips. Stretch 10 minutes to cool down.



As you can see working out in the heat has its benefits, but proper planning and care is important in taking care of members. Many enjoy the additional sweat they receive but always plan with safety in mind.



1. Lorenzo, Santiago, John R. Halliwill, Michael N. Sawka, and Christopher T. Minson. “Heat Acclimation Improves Exercise Performance.” Journal of Applied Physiology (Bethesda, Md.: 1985) 109, no. 4 (October 2010): 1140–47.

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