Should You Sauna Before or After a Workout? (With Pros & Cons of Each)

For many people, the gym and the sauna go hand in hand. If you’re like me, you may have wondered at some point if you should use the sauna before or after working out – is one better than the other?

Using the sauna both before and after working out have their benefits. You should use the sauna after working out if you’re healthy and looking to enhance your recovery. But if you have any cardiovascular issues or want an easy warm-up, you should use the sauna beforehand.

Some people like to use the sauna before exercising to save time on their warm-up or to lower their heart rate faster after they’re done. Others like to use it afterward to boost their performance and accelerate weight loss. Read on to see if using the sauna before or after working out is a better fit for you!

Is it better to sit in the sauna before or after a workout?

As it turns out, there are a lot of conflicting opinions on this matter. The fact of the matter is, as long as you’re in good health, it’s not going to harm you to choose one over the other. However, there are some practical and physiological reasons why one might be more beneficial than the other.

As far as net benefits go, using the sauna after working out is the clear winner. The reason for this is because it helps you recover faster and more thoroughly from your workout. Mainly, using the sauna beforehand gives you a mini warm-up, but using it afterward can have lasting positive effects.

This is why the post-workout sauna session is so popular – the benefits are quite noticeable! It’s a great way to wind down and relax after working out, helps your body recover faster, and for most people, it feels better overall. Plus, you’ll only need to take one shower instead of two.

If you have heart problems or high blood pressure, it would be better to use the sauna before working out. Sitting in the sauna before a workout is similar to the warm-up part of exercise – you get your blood flowing and warm up your muscles in a way that isn’t too strenuous.

Moreover, if you have this type of medical condition and use the sauna after working out, you’re prolonging the amount of time your heart rate is accelerated. This is perfectly fine for a healthy person but could be dangerous for people with certain medical conditions.

Should you sauna before or after a workout to lose weight?

Whether you prefer to use the sauna before or after a workout, both ways will result in some form of weight loss. But, if you don’t continue your exercise routine, most of the weight shed is water weight. Most studies that involve using a sauna around the time of a workout focus on using it after working out, and for a good reason.

Using a sauna after a workout can have legitimate indirect benefits of increased fat loss and muscle gain. Those studies found that post-exercise sauna use can increase blood volume and, in turn, improve your performance in subsequent workouts. If you’re able to work out harder and for longer, that will correlate with increased calories burned and weight lost.

There is also a small benefit of increasing calories burned during post-exercise sauna use, simply by sitting in the sauna. If you follow this practice, your heart continues to beat faster and harder than exercising alone – and in a way, extending your workout. All body parts use calories, including the heart. When the heart continues to work harder, this translates to slightly higher fat and calorie burning rate.

Is the sauna good after a workout?

If you’re healthy, then the sauna is an excellent way to jumpstart your recovery from exercise. When you work out, your body burns up oxygen and produces lactic acid and other metabolites as a byproduct. They build up in the muscles, which leads to stiffness and soreness.

When you expose yourself to heat after working out, such as in the sauna, you can mitigate delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) by up to 47%. That’s quite a lot for something as simple as relaxing in a hot room!

The way it works is the heat helps your muscles to relax and your blood vessels to open up. When your blood vessels are dilated, they are better able to carry away waste as well as deliver oxygen and nutrients to your hard-working muscles.

There are some practical benefits as well. Some people might feel better if they remain as fresh as possible during their workout. This is especially the case for people who already sweat a lot during their exercise – starting warm right after using a sauna is guaranteed to lead to an intensely sweaty workout.

How long should you wait before sauna after working out

You should always wait at least 10 minutes after exercise before using the sauna. Any activity in which you’re causing your body to heat up warrants frequent breaks and waiting periods. This will also give you time to shower and replenish the water in your body with a drink of cool water.

How to use a sauna after a workout

  • Wait at least ten minutes after the workout and let your body cool down.
  • Take a shower with soap, and preferably with cooler water. It would be best if you always showered before using a sauna, but especially after working out.
  • Bring two clean, dry towels into the sauna with you. You can use one to sit on or wrap around yourself and the other to dab sweat for comfort.
  • Listen to your body. If your heart is beating too fast or you feel physical discomfort, leave the sauna and take at least a ten-minute break before returning. Don’t spend more than 15-20 minutes at a time in the sauna.
  • When you’re done, take another shower with soap.

How long should you sit in a sauna after a workout?

Never stay in the sauna past your discomfort point. Your body sends signals for a reason; overheating and dehydrating yourself will never be beneficial for your health.

According to the general guidelines for sauna usage, you should cap your time at 15-20 minutes, but it may be shorter if you just had a workout. This is because your body temperature is already elevated, and you’ve already been sweating.

That is why it’s so important to listen to your body and pay attention to any discomfort or signs of dehydration. If you notice that you’ve stopped sweating or feel light-headed, leave the sauna immediately, cool down, and rehydrate.

Is a sauna good for muscle recovery?

Using a sauna is an excellent way to boost your muscle recovery. In fact, it’s the main reason it’s more beneficial to use the sauna after working out than before. There are several studies out there that point out the benefits of heat exposure after working out.

Potential benefits of heat exposure after a workout:

  • Reduces muscle damage from working out
  • Reduces DOMS
  • Increases blood volume and future exercise performance: accelerates weight loss
  • Extends calorie burn post-workout: accelerates weight loss
  • Helps with older muscle injuries and chronic pain like arthritis
  • Accelerates metabolic waste and toxin removal by dilating blood vessels

Is it okay to sauna before your workout?

Using the sauna before working out is perfectly fine and has its benefits but may not be pleasant for everyone. If you tend to exercise pretty hard, you’ll end up sweating a whole lot more throughout the workout.

On the other hand, there is a particular group of people who would fare much better in this scenario. Heating up in the sauna before a workout can provide a gentle warm-up, which is great for people who, out of medical necessity, need to take it easy when exercising and shouldn’t use the sauna post-workout.

This mini warm-up session is great for everyone else, too. It loosens up the muscles, which can enhance performance during exercise and help prevent injury. And it’s also a great way to save on time by combining your warm-up with your sauna session!

How long should you stay in a sauna before a workout?

If you like or need to use the sauna before working out as opposed to after, it’s not recommended to spend more than 5 minutes in there. This will help you avoid overworking your body or starting out your exercise routine with fatigue.

How long should you wait after sauna before working out

It isn’t pleasant or very healthy to jump straight into a workout right after using the sauna. Instead, it would help if you gave your body some time to cool down enough to avoid overheating during exercise.

The general rule of thumb is that it takes about 10-15 minutes to cool down between sauna sessions. So, if we treat a workout like a sauna session (your body responds to both in very similar ways!), then you’ll want to follow that same rule.

This works out perfectly anyway because it gives you time to take a shower, drink some water, and start your workout refreshed. In both the sauna and the gym, you should always rehydrate between sessions. This waiting period is a great way to ensure your body has taken in and processed some of the water you drank.