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Is Temperature Doping in Virtual Cycling a Thing? – An interview with Jason Boynton, Ph.D

Dr. Boynton is a sport scientist, cycling coach, and an expert in the effects of environmental temperature on training and performance of endurance athletes.

Question 1:

Please tell us a bit about yourself.  Where do you live?  Family life, professional focus, cycling story, your background, that sort of thing.

Question 2:

What motivated you to become an Exercise and Sport Scientist, and what was the path you took to become one?

Question 3:

You have conducted a significant amount of research on a topic of interest to the virtual cyclist.  Can you tell us a bit about it?

Question 4:

I want to take a deeper dive into that.  Many indoor cyclists don’t pay much attention to the relationship between heat and exercise.  How meaningful is the relationship, and what makes it such a concern for an indoor endurance athlete?  Do you agree with the simple adage that every drop of sweat equals a Watt of lost power?

Question 5:

You have conducted extensive, cutting-edge research into the relationship between temperature, power output, perceived exertion, and cardiovascular strain.  Can you provide an overview of your research and the implications for the virtual cyclist?

Question 6:

Can you describe cardiac drift and its importance to the relationship between heat and exercise?  Are there any conditions unique to virtual cycling that make cardiac drift an issue or other specific causes?  Are endurance athletes more or less likely to experience problems related to controlling their body temperature?

Question 7:

It makes sense that training in a sweltering environment can harm performance, but how about the opposite?  Is training in the cold detrimental to performance, and why does it have an impact?  How cold is too cold?

Question 8:

That is interesting.  Well, then, how hot is too hot?  Is there an ideal temperature range for the indoor cyclist, or better yet, a perfect temperature?  What is the relationship between the percentage of power loss per degree over time as you deviate from the ideal temperature? 

Question 9:

In addition to controlling temperature, is there anything else a virtual cyclist can do to mitigate the effect of temperature? 

Question 10:

Is temperature doping a thing?  Can the indoor endurance athlete manipulate their training environment to maximize potential? 

Question 11:

Not everyone reading this is an ‘indoor specialist’ like me.  If convinced that training in an optimal temperature range maximizes indoor performance, what does it do when you head back on the road?  Is there anything to consider when making the transition from indoors to outdoors?

Question 12:

If that is the case, is the opposite true?  If an endurance athlete trains in excessive heat, will that make them more efficient and improve performance when competing in a temperate indoor environment?  Is heat doping a thing?

Question 13:

Do you agree with the research supporting endurance improvements through the use of heat modalities like saunas or hot tubs, without the need for exercise?  How about the recent studies showing that taking a hot bath after training improves performance?

Question 14:

Your research has brought the endurance world much closer to the truth of how environmental temperature affects athletes.  Are we there yet?  If not, where do you see this research headed?  Do you have any exciting research in the works?

Question 15:

As a physical therapist, my mind always turns to how I can use this knowledge to help my patients.  Are there any implications for the treatment of sports injuries?

Question 16:

The indoor cyclist is faced with many other adverse effects related to poor indoor air quality?  Are there other factors a virtual cyclist should consider, like relative humidity, CO2 level, etc.?

If you are interested in learning more about the risks of poor indoor air quality and the hidden dangers that lurk in your Gain Cave, check out Part One and Part Two of the Poor Indoor Air Quality series previously posted on The ZOM!

Question 17:

Okay, in summation, what are your key takeaways for the virtual cyclist who wants to use temperature as a way to put themselves in the best position to succeed?  What should we do?

Thank you, Dr. Boynton!

For a deeper dive into Dr. Boynton’s research and the implications to the virtual cyclist check out these CYCLINGTIPS articles on indoor training and heat acclimation written by Dr. Boynton.

About Dr. Jason Boynton, Ph.D.

Jason Boynton, Ph.D. is a sport scientist and cycling coach. His Ph.D. research at Edith Cowan University, under the supervision of Associate Professor Chris Abbiss, investigated the effects of environmental temperature on high-intensity interval training in endurance athletes. Additionally, he has nearly 15 years of experience coaching cyclists with an evidence-based practice. Wisconsin raised, he is loving the cycling and expat life in beautiful Western Australia. You can learn more about Jason and his coaching at his website, his Facebook page, and on Instagram. And also check out The Cycling Performance Club Podcast, for weekly podcast episodes co-hosted by Jason, Damian Ruse, and Cyrus Monk.

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