Thursday, March 8, 2012

Sweating does not mean a better workout

Sorry, but it doesn't.

A lot of us will sweat more in a Spin class than say practicing push ups, pull ups and squats, but does that mean the Spin class was a superior workout? Nope.
Think about it, will a sweaty Spin class change my body more than the push ups, pull ups and squats? Certainly not. The latter will make you have a better, stronger, leaner body for sure.

If sweating was an indicator of how good your workout was, then we could just sit in a sauna and get into shape.  Or sit in the sun on a 90 degree day, or sit in our car with no AC on a 90 degree day and just sweat like crazy.
While sweating absolutely has some great benefits, it does not mean you got a better workout, and it also does not mean your workout was a bad one if you do not sweat as much.
If you are not sweating much because you are lifting little 3 lbs weights is one thing, of course you won't, you are not working hard. However - not sweating as much as you would in a cardio class and instead you are lifting heavy weights is a different story. You are working your body in a way that cardio does not.
It is quite satisfying to be dripping in sweat after a workout; it makes you feel like you did a nice calorie burning, thorough work out.

However it is a misconception that the more you sweat the better your work out.
Sweating and the amount you sweat depend upon a variety of factors, external as well as internal. Sweat does indicate that you had a good work out, but more sweat does not necessarily mean a better work out of more calories expended. There are other factors at play:
The climate: Obviously the hotter it is the more you will sweat. So you will sweat more in summer than in winter. Does that mean you burn more calories in summer than winter? Not quite!
Your fitness levels and all other things being equal, you will burn the same amount of calories in winter as in summer doing the same exercises even if you do sweat more in summer. So in that sense, sweat does not ‘melt’ the fat away from your body. It is however possible that you may lose a few more calories if your body temperature is more elevated.
The Kind of exercise: If you are on a stationary bike indoors, you will probably sweat more than if you were outside on an actual bicycle with the wind in your face and the air cooling your body.
However merely the emergence of more sweat on the stationary bike is not an indication that you are getting a better work out. Yes you may get a better work out if you increase the resistance of the stationary bike or its difficulty level, but sweat is not the indicator.
Similarly jogging on a tread mill may make you sweatier than jogging outside in the cool air, but that does not mean you get a better work out simply by being on a treadmill.
You may lose more water not more fat: If you are sweating more during a work out and find that this helped you lose some weight as against a similar work out which did not have to sweating as much, then you have to understand that that weight loss was from water lost during the workout. It was not more fat burnt, but more water lost, which is not necessarily a good thing.

More importantly you might burn 600+ calories doing cardio exercises, and only 300 weight lifting, BUT the weight lifting workout will continue to leave your metabolism an an elevated rate where the cardio workout does not. I'd rather keep burning calories at a higher rate for several hours AFTER my workout is done - wouldn't you?

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