MMA and Sauna Suits: Improving Endurance and Fitness

MMA and Sauna Suits: Improving Endurance and Fitness

MMA is tough sport. Whether you’re involved in boxing, kickboxing, jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai or any other combat discipline, you need to have good cardiovascular endurance. The constant movement, explosive brawls and wrestling with an opponent will tax your cardiovascular system, and that really shows during an MMA fight where you’re given little rest between rounds.

Take for instance the first time Francis Ngannou faced off against Stipe Miocic – Ngannou seemed unstoppable. After knocking out the likes of Andrei Arlovski, Alistair Overeem and Curtis Blaydes, everyone thought that Stipe was next on the chopping block for The Predator. But that’s not how it played out at UFC 220, where heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic exposed Ngannou’s biggest weakness – his endurance.

After the first round, Ngannou had no gas in the tank. He chased Stipe around the octagon and even landed some big shots, but Stipe was able to completely dominate a gassed Ngannou with his wrestling abilities, leaving Francis unable to inflict any damage to the Croatian champion.

Point is, if you’re an MMA fighter and your cardiovascular fitness / endurance isn’t up to par, you’ll eventually suffer the consequences. Because of that, fighters are always looking for a way to increase their endurance through strict training routines and tools like oxygen masks and sauna suits.

 

CAN SAUNA SUITS IMPROVE ENDURANCE AND CARDIOVASCULAR FITNESS?

Sauna suits are an excellent way to improve cardiovascular fitness and endurance. By increasing your body temperature and kicking your body’s systems into overdrive, a sauna suit can effectively boost VO2 max and help your body use oxygen more efficiently during endurance training. In layman’s terms, that basically means that “heat therapy” (AKA a sauna suit) has been shown to increase how much oxygen your body can take up and efficiently use during exercise, as well as improve performance.

Here’s the evidence:

A 2017 study in the International Journal of Research in Sports Physiology looked at the performance benefits of training with a sauna suit. Fighters use them as a way to cut weight all the time – maybe there are some performance benefits too.

Before starting the study, the researchers hypothesized that training with a sauna suit would lead to a higher VO2 max and better performance in a 5km endurance trial. Basically, they thought that training in the “hot” environment (the sauna suit) would lead to better endurance and more efficient use of oxygen during exercise - better athleticism.

The researchers took 14 healthy and endurance trained men and women and had them complete their usual volume and intensity of training for 14 days, with 1 group performing all training sessions in a sauna suit. To compare, the other group didn’t train with the sauna suit.

The athletes were weighed before and after their time trial challenges to work out the sweat rate, and were also told to perform the 5km time trial before and after the 14 days so the researchers could compare their performance before vs. after training in a sauna suit.

After the 14 days of training, the group that trained with the sauna suit showed some pretty remarkable improvements in different areas. The athletes that trained with a sauna suit showed improvements in VO2max, ventilatory threshold, and time trial performances. In simple terms, the athletes that trained with a sauna suit were able to take up more oxygen and efficiently use it during exercise and performed better in timed endurance tests.

The athletes that trained in the sauna suit also had a higher sweat rate (expected) and a lower core temperature overall.

All of this is to say – training with a sauna suit boosted endurance performance.


 

MMA TRAINING IN A SAUNA SUIT FOR ENDURANCE

Considering endurance is so important in MMA, training MMA in a sauna suit can benefit fighters looking to improve their cardiovascular performance. Sure, strength is importance, and yeah, technique is critical. But if you can’t last long in the cage and run out of gas after 1 round, you won’t be able to compete with an opponent with better endurance.

Apart from endurance, sauna suits also have a long list of benefits that we’ve covered in detail in another article. If you’re interested in the benefits of sauna suits, check it out.

If you’re looking to improve your endurance for MMA with a sauna suit, we recommend the Contender Sauna Suit – a sauna suit designed specifically for fighters. It offers a full range of motion, is made with premium materials and will help keep your muscles and joints warmed up during training.