Sauna While Bodybuilding (Bulking, Cutting Weight, & More)

If you’re a bodybuilder, you may have eyed the sauna in the gym, though you may not be sure if it could be more beneficial during the bulking or the cutting phase. Can it help you achieve your goals?

Saunas are great for bodybuilding, no matter which phase you are in. They could boost hGH, speed up muscle recovery, and improve cardiovascular health. They could also increase your metabolism. This means saunas are helpful for both bulking and cutting, although it’s unclear which effects are stronger – or if they offset each other completely. 

Keep reading to learn about how saunas relate to bodybuilding!

Is the sauna good for bodybuilding?

With saunas in nearly every gym, it makes you wonder if they can help with bodybuilding. Or are they just there for relaxation? Let’s find out!

The sauna is good for bodybuilding. Saunas boost hGH, improve cardiovascular health, and speed up muscle recovery. Likewise, saunas help you burn calories and increase your metabolism.

However, it is possible for the weight loss associated with saunas to offset their bulking benefits. Use the sauna post-workout for best results.

Saunas are a great addition to your bodybuilding routine when used correctly.

Can the sauna boost testosterone?

The sauna seems to be able to do it all. So can it increase the highly sought-after hormone testosterone?

Saunas do not boost testosterone. However, they can reduce hormones such as cortisol that inhibit testosterone.

Cortisol reduces testosterone levels in the blood. It’s hypothesized that cortisol disrupts testosterone’s biosynthesis pathway. Some researchers have explored whether exercise-induced cortisol reduces circulating testosterone levels. 

Cortisol levels spike while you’re using the sauna, but they drop by about 25% after sauna use.

One way to reduce cortisol levels while in the sauna is by meditating to unwind.

Can the sauna increase growth hormone?

Growth hormones are a huge aspect of muscle building and recovery.

The sauna can increase growth hormone levels. The higher the sauna temperature, the longer the session, and the more often you go, the more increase you will see. Traditional dry saunas are the hottest kind of sauna and are therefore best if you’re looking to increase hGH levels.

The human growth hormone, hGH, is produced by the pituitary gland. It regulates growth spurts, body composition, and fat metabolism. 

Depending on your sauna factors, you can see a 2-fold, 5-fold, or even 16-fold increase in hGH levels! Again, the longer, hotter, and more frequent the sessions, the greater increase.

However, some of these studies included multiple hour-long sessions in one day, which isn’t recommended. Stick to 3 times a week at 15 minutes per session and you’ll still see an hGH increase.

Can the sauna help build muscle?

When you’re bodybuilding, of course, you want to build muscle. Can the sauna help?

Saunas help build muscle by improving cardiovascular health, lowering cortisol levels, increasing hGH, and speeding up muscle recovery. To use the sauna to build muscle, it’s best to have a session after working out instead of before.

Saunas increase the amount of oxygen and nutrients carried to the cells and increase blood flow, improving heart health by decreasing your resting heart rate and blood pressure.

Cortisol is most commonly known as the stress hormone, but it also regulates our general health by affecting our immune system and metabolism. Too much cortisol can result in a weaker immune system, impaired cognitive function, weight gain, and more. It also inhibits testosterone. Lowering cortisol helps maintain your body’s health, weight, and testosterone levels.

Saunas increase hGH levels through heat-induced stress. This causes your pituitary gland to release hGH. This growth hormone boosts muscle development and strength while also speeding up fat loss.

Saunas speed up muscle recovery by increasing blood flow and the nutrients that reach your damaged muscles. Saunas also produce heat shock proteins which help with recovery and cellular strength. 

What kind of sauna is best for bodybuilders?

There are so many different kinds of saunas to choose from, which one is better for bodybuilders?

Traditional saunas are better than infrared saunas for bodybuilders because hotter saunas help produce more hGH.

As previously discussed, the hotter the sauna, the more hGH is produced.

Sauna vs steam room for bodybuilding

What about steam rooms?

Saunas are better for bodybuilding than steam rooms because the high heat helps more with muscle recovery. 

Again, turn up the heat!

When should bodybuilders use the sauna?

Okay, so saunas are clearly helpful with a lot of bodybuilding aspects. But when should you use them?

Bodybuilders should use the sauna after their workout. While using the sauna before a workout is a great way to warm up, bodybuilders will reap the most benefits with a post-workout sauna session with boosted muscle recovery, cardiovascular strength, and metabolism.

There is a myriad of benefits to using the sauna after a workout, such as:

  • Recovery
  • Weight loss
  • Reduced joint pain
  • Cardiovascular strength
  • And more!

Sauna while bulking

Bodybuilding is split into two cycles: bulking and cutting. Can saunas help while bulking?

Saunas can be used while bulking to help speed up muscle recovery, increase hGH, and lower testosterone-blocking hormones such as cortisol. But they also help you lose weight by increasing your metabolism, which might offset their other bulking benefits.

Saunas are good for bulking in the sense that they can help with pulled muscles, increase hGH, and lower testosterone-blocking hormones. However, their ability to increase your metabolism and help you lose weight may outweigh their muscle-recovery benefits.

How to use the sauna while bulking

How should you use the sauna while bulking?

To use the sauna while bulking, have your session post-workout. Take a shower first and change out of your gym clothes. Stay in for about 10 minutes at around 165°F. You can slowly increase the amount of time you spend inside as you get accustomed to using the sauna.

Follow these best practices to stay safe and get the most out of your session.

Sauna while cutting weight

So what about while cutting weight?

Saunas can be helpful while cutting weight because they increase your metabolism and help you lose weight. The heavier you are, the more weight you will lose. This is especially helpful when cutting because you’re at your heaviest after bulking.

The sauna can help you burn calories. In fact, the more weight you have, the more calories you burn. This is great news for people who are cutting weight because they’re at their highest weight when they start!

You can burn roughly 50% more calories while in the sauna than while at rest. This makes sauna sessions a great addition to normal weight-cutting activities.

How to use the sauna while cutting weight

Does using the sauna while cutting weight differ from using it while bulking?

To use the sauna while cutting weight, have your session post-workout. Take a shower first and change out of your gym clothes. Stay in for about 10 minutes at around 165°F. You can slowly increase the amount of time you spend inside as you get accustomed to using the sauna.

Using the sauna while cutting weight is the same routine as when you’re bulking. You’re just using best practices to stay safe and reap the most benefits possible.