Saunas Before and After Workouts: Maximising Fitness Benefits

22 February 2024

For fitness enthusiasts, the pursuit of peak performance and overall well-being isn’t just confined to the gym or the yoga mat. It extends to holistic practices that can amplify the results of a workout routine. One practice is the strategic use of saunas, a ritual that has been a cornerstone of wellness in various cultures for centuries. In this extensive guide, we’ll explore the profound effects of saunas when utilised both before and after a workout, equipping you with the knowledge to supercharge your fitness strategies.

Before we break down the benefits, it’s important to understand the basics of a sauna session. The experience typically involves sitting in a room heated to temperatures upwards of 76 degrees. The intense dry heat causes the body to sweat, which can lead to a range of health benefits, including improved circulation, stress relief, and detoxification. While there are several types of saunas, the underlying principle of heat therapy remains constant.

Benefits of Saunas Before Workouts

If you’ve ever seen an athlete head to the sauna before a competition, it wasn’t just for show. Pre-workout sauna sessions can offer several advantages to health and fitness.

Improved Circulation and Warm-up

Saunas pre-workout help dilate blood vessels, which reduces blood pressure and increases blood flow. This effect mimics the body’s response to physical exercise, known as the ‘vasodilation response.’ Improved circulation can lead to a better warm-up and enhanced delivery of oxygen and nutrients to muscles.

Muscle Relaxation and Flexibility

Heat from the sauna can cause muscles to relax, which can be especially beneficial before engaging in intense exercise. Relaxed muscles are more flexible and less prone to injury, making them easier to stretch and prepare for the stress of a workout.

Mental Preparation and Focus

Sauna time can be an opportunity to mentally focus on the upcoming workout. The serene environment compels individuals to relax and concentrate, which can be a valuable psychological warm-up for athletes and gym-goers alike.

Benefits of Saunas After Workouts

The post-workout sauna session is equally significant, as it aids in the body’s recovery process and offers a range of restorative effects.

Muscle Recovery and Relaxation

After a workout, saunas can help the body flush out metabolic waste products and assist in faster muscle recovery. The warmth of the sauna promotes circulation, bringing fresh blood to oxygen-depleted muscles, which can reduce soreness and aid in repair.

Detoxification and Stress Relief

The act of sweating in a sauna can help eliminate toxins and heavy metals from the body. This detoxification process is complemented by the stress-relieving environment of the sauna, which encourages the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals.

Enhanced Sleep Quality and Overall Well-being

A post-workout sauna gives the body a head start on cooling down, a process that is crucial for falling asleep. Quality sleep is when the body does most of its recovery and repair, and a sauna session before bedtime can enhance this process, leading to better overall fitness outcomes.

Tips for Sauna Usage

To ensure you’re reaping the full benefits and not risking any adverse effects, here are some key considerations when using saunas before and after workouts.

Duration and Temperature Recommendations

Begin with shorter sessions at lower temperatures, gradually increasing the time and heat as your body acclimates. A good starting point is around 10-15 minutes at 65 degrees. Always listen to your body and exit the sauna if you feel dizzy or unwell.

Hydration and Post-Sauna Practices

Hydrate before, during, and after your sauna sessions. Replenishing fluids is critical, especially after sweating heavily. Consider taking a cold shower post-sauna to aid in the cooling down process and to close pores.

Integrating saunas into your fitness regime can be a game-changer. Whether you’re looking to enhance your performance, recover more quickly, the sauna offers a multiplicity of benefits. It’s a tool that, when used mindfully, can help you achieve new levels of fitness and well-being. Remember, everybody is different, so your sauna routine should be tailored to your individual needs and goals. With this comprehensive insight into sauna use in the fitness context, it’s time to step up your wellness game and unlock the potential within.


Q: How can a sauna benefit you after a workout?

A: After a workout, saunas can help the body flush out metabolic waste products and assist in faster muscle recovery

Q: Can a post workout sauna improve your quality of sleep?

A: A sauna session before bedtime can enhance this process, leading to better overall fitness outcomes.