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Hot Summer DVD Special - Just $30 Each!

HELLBOWS: Destructive Elbow Techniques
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Training in the Heat: 7 Survival Tips

Howdy all! Well, the hot days of summer are well upon us and that throws an extra element of difficulty to any workout if you're not in air conditioning.

A workout that is easy on a 60 degree day can become a beast when it's in the 90's!

This was definitely the case when I was in Oregon back in 2007 as MAA Keating's training partner for a week-long video shoot. It was all done outdoors, the sun was blazing, and there was little shade to be had anywhere on the ranch.

The day we filmed Stickfighting 1-2 and Hellbows was particularly memorable in this regard. I ended up putting on a white long sleeve shirt so I wouldn't burn up as bad and was wearing a cowboy hat whenever I wasn't on camera for some relief from the sun.

So, what can you do if you train outdoors at the park or in a more primitive gym like ours, which is just a big metal pole barn with no amenities? 

* Pre-Hydrate - Make sure you're not going into your workout already at a disadvantage. It's really easy to not drink enough water in a day - it's a challenge to drink a gallon a day at first. And while I prefer to train on an empty stomach, in the summer I'll usually drink a quart of water before heading out to the school. I found that when I got a Berkey gravity water filter many years back I started to drink a lot more water. The taste is much better and you know there's nothing in it...but water. Of course, bring along water and drink as much as you want while training, too.

* Train Early - If you get your workout in early in the morning it won't be as hot out yet as it will be if you wait until midday. Plus working out in the morning is a great way to have more energy for the rest of the day.

* Seek the Shade - Anything you can do to stay out of the direct sun will help you survive in the heat. If you have to train in the direct sun, head to the shade on every break. When doing calisthenics at Clute park in Watkins Glen the bar area is in the direct sun with no shade around it, so if I'm doing 20 sets of "Around the World" (pull ups, pushups, squats, and dips) I'll do 5 sets, head to the shade for a few minutes, do another 5 sets, back to the shade, etc.

* Wet T-Shirts - One super simple thing to do is simply soak your t-shirt in cold water, lightly wring it out, and put it back on. You'll instantly feel 20 degrees cooler, like you have personal air conditioning. Even on the hottest day this will last for about an hour before you're going to want to soak your shirt in cold water again. A wet bandanna or small towel on the back of your neck will provide a similar cooling effect, though to a lesser degree.

* Cool Clothes - On a related clothing note, cotton is going to be a lot cooler fabric in summer than anything nylon, so ditch the track pants for a pair of shorts. Tank tops, though not that much less fabric, always feel cooler to me and they prevent you from getting a "farmers tan" on your arm. If you're outdoors a hat or bandanna can also make things a lot more bearable. Particularly for you guys with really short hair they will prevent a painful sunburn on your scalp.

* Train in the Water - One aspect of Filipino martial arts that you see in the Philippines but not in America is training in the water. A common exercise is to stand in the water so it's about solar plexus height and then practice simple angle 1 and 2 strikes, redondos, and do on trying to smash through the water with your stick. In addition to providing resistance training, the splashing of the water teaches you not to blink when things are coming towards your eyes or flinch when something touches your face. 

* Post Workout - After training in the heat I like to take a cold shower. Even just a few minutes in a cold water will really make a difference with your recovery. Usually I'll keep it on a medium/low temperature while I wash off with soap and then put it on all cold for 2-3 minutes. If that sounds too extreme, at least fill up a basin of cold water to soak your feet in. It's an easy thing you can do while sitting around and it feels great.

Enjoy and all the best,

Pete Kautz

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