Innovative Olympic Training Techniques: Taylor Phinney

The U.S. cycling prodigy chases his training rides with an unusual cool-down: 20 minutes in a sauna

Jul 18, 2012
Outside Magazine

Recently, 22-year-old U.S. cycling phenom Taylor Phinney has been chasing his training rides with a 20-minute broil in a 160-degree sauna—a torturous practice intended to force the body to release an antidiuretic hormone. In response, Phinney produces more plasma, which allows for better water retention and increases oxygen flow to damaged tissues. In theory, the saunas should boost oxygenation of his muscles and organs—an effect similar to that produced by blood doping. Will it work? Who knows: Phinney won’t be tested until before the Games, and once competition starts, he’ll go back to ice treatments to aid recovery. But the anecdotal evidence is compelling: in May, Phinney led the first three stages of the Giro d’Italia before crashing.

Men's cycling: July 28, 4 a.m. EDT