Cooling for performance

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Kevin Dick pointed me to this interesting article about the effect of cooling on human performance. It turns out that if you cool down your body between sets you can get a very substantial performance improvement:
Like any athlete, Weir is well acquainted with his normal performance range. Like any athlete, Weir looks for an edge. A few years ago, he was intrigued when he heard about a device that has been called at various times the RTX, Core Control or simply The Glove invented by a pair of Stanford biologists. Using the device to lower his core body temperature between sets, he was able to lift 495 pounds in four sets of squats instead of his normal two. He usually does squats only on Mondays, but he decided to try a second series a few days later. That Friday, he was able to increase the weight to 545 pounds. I was surprised the sets felt so good, he says, but adds that the real test came the following Monday. Weir, 44, expected to see significant performance degradation due to the extra Friday workout. Not only did he not see the decay, he increased weight with every set. The RTX for rapid thermal exchange cooling device is a very serious piece of equipment, he says. At my age, you dont expect to be setting personal bests during workouts. He trained with the cooling equipment for the 2002 Commonwealth Games, and placed third in the discus. His oldest competitor was 15 years younger.

The RTX is a gizmo that applies cold and vacuum to your hand, thus lowering your core temperature. It's well known that people's performance drops off pretty badly in heat and I, like a lot of people, perform better in cold, but it's rather surprising that you can get this large a performance improvement by cooling people down through their hand, especially when you're only cooling between sets.

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3 Comments

Another important aspect to note about this is that training with the RTX led to non-cooling-dependent gains. Because the RTX allowed the tested athletes to work harder during training, they were able to perform better in competition, even when the RTX wasn't available at the competition.

"cooling doesn’t result in shriveled gonads"

Not sure what planet these people live on, but cooling sure causes gonad shrivelling where I live!

Pity me. When I read the headline, I expected an entry on CPU performance.

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