Does Sweating More While Working Out Mean You Had a Better Workout?
We’ve all been there: Stepping out of the gym or exercise class covered from head to toe in sweat. We walk back to our cars feeling great. For many of us, that walk back to the car seems a lot less gratifying when our clothes are too dry for our liking. This raises an interesting question:
“Does the amount of sweat on your shirt mean that you had a better workout?”
The answer may surprise you. Let’s take a look at the function of sweat along with factors that determine whether you’ve had a good or a great workout.
Why Do We Sweat?
First, let’s talk about sweat. Your body is an amazing self-cooling system. It has millions of sweat glands that provide the body with perspiration to keep your body temperature regulated to a safe and normal level.
There are two primary types of sweat glands, eccrine and apocrine. What are the differences?
- Secretes sweat directly through a duct
- Vast number of eccrine sweat glands
- Located throughout the body
- Responsible for temperature control and detoxification
- Secretes sweat indirectly via a hair follicle
- Apocrine glands are few in number
- Located in precise locations: armpits, breast, perineum, ear, and eyelids
- Activated during “instinct” moments such as fear, excitement, sexual stimulation, and pain
While the apocrine glands are very important, for the purposes of your workouts, we’re going to focus on the eccrine glands.
Cool Off with Eccrine Sweat Glands
As mentioned above, eccrine sweat glands have the job of making sure your body doesn’t overheat. This all starts with the sympathetic nervous system. One of the many duties of the sympathetic nervous system is to make sure that your body temperature stays within a safe zone. In order to regulate your body temperature, the sympathetic nervous system works via these eccrine sweat glands.
Simply put: When you start to heat up through a rigorous activity like exercise, your eccrine glands are activated by the sympathetic nervous system and, as a result, sweat is released on to the surface of the skin. That sweat is then evaporated into the air, providing you with that cooling feeling.
Obviously, when you are wearing gym clothes, that material catches the sweat, leaving you with a soaked t-shirt at the end of your workout.
Sweat and Your Workouts
So, if you sweat more during a workout does that translate into having a better workout?
Unfortunately, more sweat doesn’t mean you had a better workout but there is a catch, which I’ll talk about more below!
The amount of sweat you produce during a workout has very little to do with the quality of the workout. Sure, performing a high intensity workout like CrossFit is going to result in having a soaked t-shirt but there are other factors at play that are more important when it comes to the amount you sweat.
- People who weigh more tend to sweat more as they generate more body heat
- Fit people sweat sooner but not necessarily more than those who are not fit
- Men tend to sweat more than women but weight and size is a bigger determining factor
- We tend to sweat less as we age
Sweat and Your Results
While heavy sweating may not correlate to a better workout, it may help with weight loss.
Sweating it out provides a temporary loss of water weight. When you resume your normal diet, the water weight returns. However, studies show that long term water weight loss methods such as using a sauna or sauna suit can provide better results in weight loss.
While you can’t judge the quality of your workout based on how sweaty you get, you can make sweating work for you. Here are a few tips to increase your sweat rate and promote long term weight loss:
- 5 days per week: Spend 15 minutes in a sauna
- If you do not have access to a sauna, spend 15 minutes in a neoprene-based sauna suit per day
Tell Us What You Think!
How do you feel after a high intensity workout?
Have you tried sweating it out to help your weight loss?
Let us know in the comments below!
- "The Science of Sweat." American College of Sports Medicine Certification. N.p., 22 May 2013. Web. 22 June 2017.
- Vimieiro-Gomes, A.C., F.C. Magalhães, F.T. Amorim, C.A. Machado-Moreira, M.S. Rosa, N.R.V. Lima, and L.O.C. Rodrigues. "Comparison of Sweat Rate during Graded Exercise and the Local Rate Induced by Pilocarpine." Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research. Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research, July 2005. Web. 22 June 2017.
- Dalleck, Lance. (2015) “Acute Benefits of Exercise with the Kutting Weight® Sauna Suit: Technical Report” Gunnison, CO. Western State Colorado University.