Bathhouse 101 | Yasha Thoughts


Bathhouses will not be part of American sports activities tradition, however they need to be.

Going to the bathhouse has been a vital a part of my athletic improvement. Each go to drains me of water, electrolytes, and vitality, however the next morning I’m really feel refreshed, able to work, and able to recuperate. It’s like a reset swap.

A bathhouse is a facility with saunas, Jacuzzis, steam rooms, chilly swimming pools, and showers.

Nearly all Eastern-European weightlifters (and athletes from most sports activities) are instructed to go to the bathhouse on a weekly foundation. It’s simply as vital for his or her progress because the precise training course of. Skipping the bathhouse isn’t an possibility, and an excellent coach will be sure that all of his/her athletes are simply as devoted to frequenting a bathhouse as they’re to another a part of their training.

In the US, few athletes go to a sauna repeatedly. And fewer go to correct bathhouses for the total bathhouse expertise on which {many professional} weightlifters rely.

The following is a typical training schedule for skilled Eastern-European weightlifters:


Notice how a typical skilled weightlifter is scheduled to go to the bathhouse thrice per week (plus a therapeutic massage twice per week – extra on that beneath).  

There are only a few sources of authentic scientific data that I may discover on-line about the advantages of saunas, so I requested Dr. Kevin O’Fallon, the “muscle doctor” and Research Physiologist at US Army/Natick Labs in MA, and Professor and Russian National Powerlifting Coach Boris Sheiko to assist me collect scientific literature on the subject. All of the research/articles we used are linked here.

Here are a number of the most related info from these research on the advantages of utilizing a sauna: 

  • Performance enchancment: Athletes are in a position to carry out higher following a go to to the sauna. Studies have proven this when testing counter motion jumps, wrist strength, and grip strength. Studies have additionally proven important will increase in ranges of HGH and endurance. (Sources: 1, 6, 8, 12, 13, 20, 21, 22)
  • Skin: capillaries are pressured to work and get good ‘exercise’ by contracting and dilating, pores open up and get cleaned out (in dry warmth), useless pores and skin cells get eliminated (particularly with a “venik” or scrub). (Sources: 12, 13, 15)
  • Blood: Blood all through all the physique, together with stagnated blood, is pressured to maneuver and systolic stress will increase whereas diastolic stress decreases. Lipid content material, ldl cholesterol, and free radical quantities get decreased. (Sources: 2, 3, 17) 
  • Stress and happiness: utilizing a sauna leads to a rise in dopamine and serotonin ranges, due to which contributors noticed aid in stress and muscle rigidity. (Sources: 13)
  • General health and longevity: elevated frequency of sauna bathing is related to a decreased threat of sudden cardiac demise, deadly coronary coronary heart illness, deadly heart problems, and all-cause mortality. (Sources: 23)

The basic consensus within the Soviet sports activities group is that athletes recuperate sooner after they go to the sauna usually. The sauna will increase blood movement inside muscle tissue and removes undesirable supplies from the blood. After the sauna, the elevated blood movement will proceed, permitting extra vitamins into the muscle tissue that are required for muscle restoration.


Bathhouse Culture

You can go to the native health club with an excellent sauna and get virtually every little thing you want from it. Or, you may go to a standard bathhouse with buddies and teammates and make a night out of it. I favor the latter.

A Russian bathhouse, or “banya” in Russian, prices $30-40 per go to and sometimes has Russian food, beer, and an excellent environment for spending 2-4 hours with buddies or simply having fun with the time by your self. I prefer to go together with a bunch of 2-5 buddies. When there, we go into just a few totally different saunas, perhaps a complete of 5-6 instances complete. When we’re not within the sauna, we sometimes sit and eat, drink tea, water, or beer, speak, get a therapeutic massage, and benefit from the course of.

Saunas in bathhouses are sometimes bigger than Globo-gym saunas and have a number of ranges you may sit or lay on. The greater you go, the warmer it will get (warmth rises). Everyone in a bunch can get pleasure from the identical sauna even with people preferring totally different temperatures.

Heat and time

Non-professional/younger athletes are required to go to a sauna 1-2 instances per week. The temperature within the sauna ought to be about 90-95° Celsius, which is typical in most hotter Globo-gym saunas or decrease ranges of bathhouse saunas. Young athletes ought to enter the sauna about thrice per go to, every time for 5-7 minutes.

Professional/grownup athletes want a warmer sauna, at 95-110° Celsius, which, most Globo-gym saunas don’t produce. Professional athletes ought to go to the bathhouse 2-3 instances per week, every time coming into the sauna about 4 instances, for about 10 minutes every time.

*** If you are feeling lightheaded or wanting breath – go away the sauna to chill down. 


  • Wear swim trunks or a bathing swimsuit. This isn’t the Soviet Union anymore. Everyone is roofed, and you’ll look fairly foolish for those who head in there bare.
  • Although most bathhouses present flip flops you may borrow, I like to recommend bringing your individual. You’ll be extra snug and are much less prone to catch another person’s fungus (or unfold your individual). Just a suggestion.
  • Standard bathouses have varied ranges of benches you may sit on. The greater you go, the warmer it will get. Your head will probably be the very best physique half within the sauna – that’s the place your mind is housed. Don’t let your mind overheat. Many individuals favor to maintain their head lined with a sauna hat which will be bought at any bathhouse. You can even simply use a towel – I normally simply wrap a small towel over my head when it will get too sizzling.
  • Get a gown on the bathhouse for those who’re feeling additional fancy. Otherwise, wrap your self in 1-2 towels.
  • Most bathouses present towels without cost. You can use as many as you need. I sometimes undergo 5-8 towels per go to.

The Venik

A venik (“broom” in English) is a bundle of leafy birch or oak tree twigs which you can purchase on the bathhouse. Athletes and the aged usually use veniks so as to add additional warmth to main muscle tissue to extend advantages and relieve muscle aches and different accidents. To use a venik, frivolously wave it round within the air to warmth it up, after which use it to fan sizzling air onto your pores and skin whereas letting it frivolously contact the pores and skin to switch the warmth from the leaves. You can do that by your self or get another person to do it for you.  



When utilizing the venik, quite a lot of warmth will consistently blow onto your hand. It is really helpful that you just use a particular venik glove to stop blistering in your venik hand.

Before utilizing the Venik, it is best to make the sauna hotter (beneath).

Making the sauna hotter

To make the sauna hotter, pour some sizzling water on the rocks (on the sauna oven) to extend the moisture within the air. As the water evaporates (immediately), the air turns into extra humid and dense, growing its impact on you. If you’re in a small sauna, don’t pour various tablespoons of water on the rocks, as you could harm the oven. If you’re in a Russian bathhouse with a big oven, throw small buckets onto the rocks each 3-5 minutes.

Sauna and therapeutic massage

When muscle tissue get stiff, many athletes go to a therapeutic massage therapist. However, when the muscle tissue are stiff, getting by the superficial layers of the muscle tissue may be very troublesome and normally takes all the size of the therapeutic massage session.  But for those who get a therapeutic massage (from a therapist on the bathhouse or self-massage) immediately after softening the muscle tissue in a bathhouse, the therapeutic massage might be a lot deeper, because the superficial layers will already be smooth.

Getting a therapeutic massage too usually can be not really helpful. But 1-2 instances per week, after an hour or two within the bathhouse is right.

Cooling down

There’s a restrict to how lengthy you may sit in a sauna. At some level you’ll start to overheat and wish to chill down. You have three choices:

  • Leave the sauna and go sit within the lounge space to let your physique cool off
  • Jump beneath a chilly bathe (there’s all the time no less than one proper subsequent to the sauna)
  • Jump into the chilly pool (each Bathhouse has a chilly pool)
  • Dump a bucket filled with ice-water in your head (out there inside some saunas)

All of those work effectively, nonetheless, whenever you do cool your self down with chilly water after which go sit down outdoors of the sauna, your physique could also be too chilly, and can start to make use of vitality to heat again up. It’s really helpful that after a chilly plunge, bathe, or bucket of water, step again into the sauna for 1-2 minutes to warmth again up.

After the bathhouse

The bathhouse will go away you drained of electrolytes, fluids, and vitality. All of your inside methods might be drained, and your pores and skin and hair might be moist. After visiting the bathhouse, it’s very simple to get sick if it’s chilly outdoors. Dress heat and canopy each piece of pores and skin with heat clothes.

Draining your physique will be very useful, as long as you replenish the fluids and electrolytes that had been misplaced. Drink loads of water, and ensure to have drinks/meals with electrolytes. I’ve discovered that Gatorade is right by way of electrolytes replenishment. (Source 11)


See you on the banya!

Thank you to Lisa Lokshina, Lisa Tsetlina, Kevin O’Fallon, Boris Sheiko, Vasily Polovnikov, and Nadezhda Evstyukhina in your assist!


Yasha Kahn

Weightlifter, coach and now: blogger. I’ve traveled all over the world sharing my weightlifting information and experiences. I stay up for the subsequent journey.


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