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Myth Buster: Does More Sweat Mean a Better Workout?

You might think that when you exercise, the amount you sweat is a good gauge of an effective workout. At the end of your workout, you stand in the locker room, looking at your drenched workout clothing as a badge of honor. While sweat can be inspiring , it does not always indicate the success of your workouts.

The Truth about Sweat

A common misconception in physical fitness is that sweat is a direct result of fat loss. This isn’t so. Though sweat is a great way to release toxins from your body (Just kidding! That’s another myth.) and will surely result in lost water weight (fact), it does not directly correlate with lost physical mass. Each day in gyms around the country, you see people pushing their heart rates, pursuing a healthy glow with the idea that their glisten is a result in burned calories. In reality, gauging your sweat production is a very poor way to track your efficiency. It can have absolutely no relation to your heart rate and calories burned.

Why Some People Sweat More

When you watch two athletes in training side by side, you might notice that one athlete sweats harder than the other. This does not mean that one athlete is outworking the other; it just confirms that every athlete and human body is different.

Each person is born with a unique amount of sweat glands, and more sweat glands mean more sweating in any situation.

  • Men have larger sweat glands than women, so men generally sweat more than women.
  • The body uses sweat as a cooling fluid to balance the body’s internal temperature.
  • Sweat cools the body as it evaporates from the skin.

So while you will definitely sweat during an intense workout, you’re also just as likely to sweat when you are scared, nervous, or uncomfortable. But that doesn’t mean you’re burning fat or losing weight in those situations.

The Best Way to Gauge Your Workout

Instead of wringing out your workout shirt to determine how intense your workout was, you should be monitoring your heart rate. Your beats per minute while exercising will fall into four different categories: fat-burning, aerobic, aerobic-anaerobic, and anaerobic.

  • Fat-burning: We burn fat in all of the following heart rate zones; however, in this zone we burn fat best. When you push your heart rate above this zone, your body will burn any form of stored energy, including muscle. For most people, this is between 125-155 bpm.
  • Aerobic: In this zone you can build your aerobic endurance. Average heart rates in this zone range from 155 bpm to 170 bpm.
  • Aerobic-anaerobic: In this range you’ll likely be at your lactate threshold. This is an important range to train in for improving athletic ability. Average heart rates in this zone range from 170 bpm to 175 bpm.
  • Anaerobic: When you are in the anaerobic heart rate zone, you’re exercising with 100% effort. This zone cannot be maintained for long periods. The average heart rates for this zone start around 175 bpm and go to your maximum heart rate.

Determine Your Target Heart Rate Zones

  1. Find your MAX heart rate. Subtract your age from 220. This equation will supply you with an age-predicted max beats-per-minute. A 30-year old female would have a max heart rate of 190 bpm.
  2. Find your resting heart rate. Take your pulse while in a rested stated (just waking after a full night’s rest). To determine your average beats per minute, count every beat within a one-minute time frame. Our example 30-year old female has a resting heart rate of 70 bpm.
  3. Find your heart rate reserve. Subtract your resting heart rate from your max heart rate. Our example 30-year old female has a heart rate reserve of 120 bpm.

Forget counting those sweat beads.
Your age, weight, and gender are all considerations when determining your heart rate zones. As your body becomes used to more rigorous exercise, you’ll notice fewer spikes in your heart rate. Your muscles will require heavier weight and more endurance training to see significant calorie burn and muscle growth. BUT, you may be sweating the exact same amounts all along the way. So find yourself a reliable heart rate tracker. Many will also give you calorie burn estimates. This is the most efficient way to track your workout efficiency.


Dolly AmesDolly Ames just recently found her love for health and fitness. After successfully training for her first triathlon, she was hooked. Dolly now considers herself something of a fitness junkie since hiking is becoming her favorite weekend activity (though sleep is still her first love). She constantly is investigating the best workout routines, what she should be eating for optimal health, and loves to give back by sharing her findings.

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