Ever wondered what those people swanning around the gym bone dry are doing? Well chances are they might just be getting a good workout without the sweat patches! Here’s why…
Most of us gauge our workouts by how sweat-drenched we are after the fact—the wetter, the better. But is that really a good way to measure how hard you’re working and how many calories you’re burning? And does it indicate that you’ve got a good workout in?
Surprisingly, the experts say no. “How much you sweat doesn’t correlate with how fit you are,” says Craig Ballantyne, certified trainer and author of Turbulence Training. “Sweat depends on a lot of factors, most notably genetics and ambient temperature. You could do 60 minutes of cardio and perspire a lot, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be fitter than if you did 10 minutes of less-sweaty interval training.” If sweat level really meant something, then workouts that didn’t leave you a drippy mess, such as Pilates and yoga, wouldn’t be so effective at keeping you toned and fit. “Being in shape means improving health, endurance, and building core muscles, all of which you can do without sweating,” says Ballantyne.
As for the benefits of getting your heart rate up, Ballantyne says pulse-pumping cardio workouts actually don’t torch as many calories as you’d think. “Cardio doesn’t address strength, leads to overuse injuries, is highly over-rated for fat loss, and doesn’t improve total body muscle endurance,” he says. In other words, sweating buckets in cycling class or killing it on the treadmill can keep you fit, make you feel great, and burn a reasonable number of calories—but cardio isn’t the be-all, end-all for fat burn that so many of us think it is.