Most people (me included) think that the more you sweat, the better your workout is, the more you burn off fat!
But it turns out that… it depends. The amount of sweat isn’t always an indication of how good or intense your workout is or how many calories you burn.
So is sweat really a sign of fitness? Do athletes sweat more?
Yes, so embrace it.
Sweating is one of the best, most efficient and free methods for you to regulate your temperature and cool your body. But what is it concretely?
What is this sweat thing?
When the body temperature rises, your body start sweating with the sole goal of keeping this temperature between 36.6 °C and 39.4 °C. This is something that will happen automatically, no matter the root cause.
So when this temperature rises, your body will secrete sweat, and the evaporation of this sweat from your skin will help you cool off.
You can compare this with you blowing gently on your skin when humid compared to when dry. Doesn’t that feel cooler?
But did you know that there are actually two types of sweat?
2 different types of sweat:
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From the eccrine glands These are the ones responsible for cooling down the body when our body temperature rises. They are found all over the body and open directly on the surface of the skin, which then allows the sweat to evaporate causing the cooling effect.
From the apocrine glands These are found under the arms and in the groin area — there where there are generally more concentrated hair follicles. These sweat glands are also triggered by increased body temperature, but also activated during times of stress, anxiety, or hormonal fluctuations. This sweat is a bit milkier and mixes with the bacteria on the skin which creates the, not-so-pleasant, body odor.
So why do we sweat?
We all sweat, everybody sweats… even though we don’t all sweat for the same conditions or for the same reasons. Also the amount of sweat that we produce all depends on a number of factors.
Find here a few:
Gender – men tend to sweat more than woman.
Age – young people sweat more than older people
Genetics – some people are bearer of family genes that are more prone to sweating than others
Temperature and humidity – offcourse, the weather will also have an impact on your sweating: the warmer and wetter it becomes, the more you will sweat.
Weight – Larger people tend to sweat more than skinnier people.
Fitness level – fit people sweat sooner and more than those less fit.
External factors – e.g. stress
Certain substances – e.g. caffeine and alcohol
“People view sweating as a bad thing, but it is the evaporation of sweat that enables you to not overheat, cooling you down faster and allowing you to work harder.”
The fitter, the sweatier
But then again, during exercise we all sweat. Even if just a little, we all do sweat!
The only difference we can find is in the when and how much we sweat? This can vary allot depending on the person. But the point is: the more athletic you are, the sooner you will sweat and the more that you will sweat.
Why? Because with exercising you are not only training your muscles and stamina, but you are also training your body to regulate its temperature better and faster. And this is done through sweating. You train your body to sweat well.
“You can train your body to sweat more as you increase intensity and duration over time.”
The advantage is that the athlete can then go harder and further without overheating his or her body so the performance will not be diminished.
9 tips on how to sweat right
Drink enough water a day We can say with a sure heart that most people don’t drink enough water a day! Make sure that you are well hydrated by drinking enough water every day. Even when you are not thirsty. Besides, did you know that when you start feeling thirsty, your body is telling you that you are already dehydrated? It is already too late…
Drink enough before your workout If you start your workout dehydrated, you will not only feel awful, but your body will not be able to sweat correctly either and thus failing to cool you down.
Replenish the water during and after your workout You must replenish the water and sometimes also the other “waste” products, such as salt and electrolytes. It is recommended to drink approx. 600ml for every 45-60 minutes of workout.
Electrolytes and sugars If electrolytes are called for, we recommend cutting orange juice with water (50/50) and adding a pinch of sea salt to the mix. And after every 90 minutes you might think of adding some sugar (carbohydrates) to the water and electrolytes.
Short or long workouts? Don’t forget that short intense workout can make you sweat just as much as long and less intense workouts. But note that with the short and intense workouts, you are much more to sweat after the workout has been completed and your body is recovering, rather than during. So please treat them equally when it comes to sweating.
Remove cosmetics If you are down for a good sweat, wash off any make-up or lotions to be able to let your skin breath properly. This will make sure that your pores are unclogged the pores and allow your skin to cool itself down.
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We would advise to wear shorts and sleeveless tops/tshirts to allow your sweat to evaporate. If you are not so keen on shorts and sleeveless, consider the breathability of the fabric. These workout clothes need regular washing as well.
Your hair If you must deal with long hair, arrange them short or in a ponytail to free the neck area to breath.
Shower after your workout Don’t forget to shower off your sweat after your workout. Note that sweat in itself is odorless, but the bacteria on the skin will break it down and let the odor evaporate together with the sweat. That is how the stink comes to exist.
Outro – Conclusion
First things first, every and any workout you do is good! That is better and more than no workout… Keep that in mind.
As to say that if I sweat more than my neighbor, I am doing better than him? Nonsense.
Sweat is individual and you should only compare your performance of today with that your performance of yesterday. Because too many factors come in the equation why someone might or might not sweat excessively for a same amount of effort. Plus, not all training styles will leave a whole lake on the gym floor!
One thing we are certain off is the fact that everyone sweats! In levels, but still sweat. And this is perfectly natural and very good in itself.
The two determining factors: intensity and duration.
But for most of us, sweating during exercise is perfectly natural — and very good.
There are two key factors that determine an effective calorie burn: duration and intensity.
For athletes, the fitter you become the more and sooner you sweat. This helps your body cool off during physical exercise and thus increase your performance. So train your body to sweat sooner, to sweat more and to better regulate your body temperature so you don’t overheat.
“The reason why fitter people sweat more—and also earlier into a workout—is because the body becomes more efficient at cooling itself.”