America’s greatest wrestler swears by saunas. It was a secret to his success.
“I truly believe that for every cigarette you smoke, your life is that much shorter, and for every sauna you take, your life is that much longer.” – Dan Gable.
Look at how dominant he was. Both as a wrestler and coach.
Dan Gable has a wrestling record of 181-1.
That 1 loss?
It came against Larry Owings in the 1970 NCAA Title Match. Very similar to the 2007 undefeated Patriots losing the Super Bowl.
He was admittedly not prepared for that match.
That loss motivated him to be even more dominant. He went on to win the 1971 Wrestling World Championships.
Then in 1972, he won gold in the Munich Olympics. Not only did he win all 6 of his matches. He won them without giving up a single point.
Gable is a two-time NCAA champion, three-time All-American, and Olympic gold medalist.
His career as a coach is also incredible. Gable’s teams won 15 NCAA National Wrestling Team Titles. All with the Iowa Hawkeyes.
His overall record was 355-21-5. That’s 93%!
Dan Gable praises saunas for recovery & performance.
Dan gives a lot of credit for his success and health to saunas. This was a big edge for Gable.
“Nobody could understand how I could be ready to go again 2 hours after a workout, where everybody else had to wait 24 hours. Well, I was doing what is called ‘recovery’”.
Using the sauna after every practice allowed him to recover faster than his competition. Thus, the ability to train harder than his competition.
“Saunas are highly effective at relaxing muscles and relieving pain after a hard workout.”
Disciplined recovery is the only way to maximize performance.
As a coach, Dan had his Iowa Hawkeyes recovering in the sauna.
“[My teams] performed better because they were able to train harder than the other teams. They recovered quicker. We had day-to-day better training because he had those [sauna] sessions.”
The sauna isn’t just about physical recovery. Gable used is to unwind.
“I went to the sauna because it felt really good. And besides feeling really good, I could relax and I could think.”
Slowing down allows him to make better decisions in the future. Gable could dissect his practice and life.
“The sauna is the best tool in the world for training and recovery. Aside from the benefits to my personal mental and physical health, sauna time has helped immensely with my profession of coaching”
He said for his kids, the sauna was “truth serum” because it gave them the insight to resolve their major problems.
It also built friendships. He and his team and family have bonded tightly in the sauna.
Dan talks about his heat recovery practice with Joe Rogan at 1:22:30.
How Dan Gable Uses a Sauna
Best temperature: “Whatever it is, as long as it’s hot.”
Gable’s ideal sauna temperature ranges around 170-190°F and that at times, he likes to go as high as 220°F. On average, Dan’s sauna temperature is around 190°F.
You need saunas to be at a minimum of 170°F. Then pouring water on the rocks makes it humid enough to sweat.
The ideal heat and humidity depend on each individual.
The heat source: Gable likes wood-burning saunas.
Wood-burning saunas are more true to nature. They have a special texture and feel, he says.
While acknowledging electric heaters are good, he prefers wood.
How long to sit in a sauna: There is no perfect length of time to be in a sauna.
You do need to be in long enough to feel a real challenge. “You need to sweat profusely in order to feel the sauna’s good effects.”
Best time to use a sauna: “The sauna is a great way to wake up and get ready for the day or a great way to recover and relax after exercising in the late afternoon.”
Dan used the sauna after training but says there is no best time of day. In the morning, he recommends a warm shower or dip in the hot tub to warm up your body, enabling sweating.
What to wear in a sauna: Dan doesn’t prescribe by the no clothing in a sauna rule. He said notes in his book, “And contrary to Finnish culture, we do wear shorts in the sauna! But do whatever is most comfortable for you.
Cold plunge: You don’t do anything when sitting in a sauna. The heat takes out your lactic acid so you recover faster. Even though the heat is critical for recovery, you don’t do it with heat alone.
You combine heat with cold, via a cold shower, jump in a lake or river, or roll around in the snow.
Dan has a sauna in Iowa, by a river for a cold plunge. And another in Minnesota by a lake.
Dan Gable is a sauna fanatic and believes almost everyone should use one.
“It’s a tool for me. it’s a tool for health.”