Is Sweating A Sign Of A Good Workout?

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June 4, 2020

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How do you judge when you’ve done a good workout? For some of us, it’s when your face is red and your back is drenched in sweat. And no matter how much your fitness improves, you’re still wondering - why do I sweat so much when I work out? For others it doesn’t matter how hard we train, we’re lucky to see one bead of sweat. Sweaty or not - does it say anything about your workout intensity or fitness level? It’s a good question! Keep reading to find out!

Why do we sweat? 

You probably already know that sweat is your body’s genius way of regulating your temperature and helping to keep you cool. When you’re working out, your core temperature rises and your body responds by controlling your internal temperature, so your brain signals for your thermoregulatory response to start. That’s when you begin to perspire. This is called thermal sweating — yes, there are different types of sweating (we all know what it’s like to get nervous sweats!).

How much you sweat can be determined by a number of different factors including your genes, gender, age, metabolic rate, illness, external temperature and what you’re wearing (sweat-proof leggings, anyone?).

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Is sweating a sign of a good workout?

Firstly, any workout or movement you do is great for your body and jam-packed with physical and mental benefits! Don’t forget that. Due to differences in a range of factors such as genetics, climates and training styles, sweating shouldn’t be used to measure workout intensity or how fit you are.

For example, walking outside on a hot day may cause you to sweat more than if you did a resistance session in an air-conditioned gym, while the way you sweat in a tropical city will probably be very different to how much you sweat on a cold winter’s day too.

Likewise, doing a Pilates session, which is all about strengthening your core muscles, may not have you sweating as much as you do during a HIIT workout, but that’s not to say you didn’t get a killer workout in.

Everyone’s body is built differently, too — some people naturally get sweatier than others. That means sweat might not be a reliable indicator of how hard you’ve been training.

Whether you’re sweating or not, you should always aim to stay hydrated! Make sure you drink water before and after a workout as well as during the day, even if you’re not sweating a lot. Your body also loses a lot of water through breathing, and we tend to breathe heavier when we’re exercising.

What are some other signs of a good workout?

Sweat aside, there are plenty of other ways to benchmark your fitness level,track your progress and tell if you’ve had a good workout.

Look out for these common signs of an effective workout:

  • You simply feel good! That post-workout endorphin rush is a sure-fire sign you’re reaping the benefits of movement. If you find you’re feeling worse post-workout, your body might be craving rest or it might be time to consider trying a different training style so you can find something you enjoy.

  • Your heart rate has increased and you’ve hit your target heart rate. According to John Hopkins Medicine, aiming for a target heart rate can help you find the sweet spot between exercising at the right intensity for you and overexerting yourself. The American Heart Association also has a helpful guide to understanding your maximum heart and target heart rate zone depending on whether you’re doing moderate or vigorous intensity exercise.

  • You’re out of breath during your workout — if you can talk or sing, you might not be challenging yourself enough. As highlighted in a scientific report submitted to the Secretary of HHS by the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee in the US, the sing-talk test is the simplest tool we can use outside of clinical settings to help self-regulate the intensity of physical activity.

  • Your muscles feel fatigued — the last few reps of a resistance workout should be extra tough! Using your rate of perceived exertion can be a powerful tool to help you to train at the right intensity to achieve your fitness goals and break through plateaus.

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So what’s in a drop of sweat? At the end of the day, it differs from person to person. You might sweat during all of your workouts, only in some or barely at all. When there are so many different factors at play, how much you sweat doesn’t necessarily say anything about how hard you’ve been training.

A consistent routine and a workout plan that grows with you will ensure you’re on your way to becoming fitter, stronger and healthier. So whether you sweat a lot or a little, don’t let it stop you from smashing your fitness goals!

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A more empowered you starts with Sweat, and our editorial team is here to bring you the latest fitness tips, trainer recommendations, wellbeing news, nutritional advice, nourishing recipes and free workouts.

* Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. Sweat assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.


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