If you didn’t sweat, did you even work out?
If you didn’t break a sweat, did you even work out?
This debate has become a vintage hit in the Centr community, always coming back around! While getting all Sweaty Betty can feel great – I’m definitely with you on that one – there are better ways to measure your training success.
There are a lot of myths flying around about what makes a workout ‘worth it’. Kick back and take a rest break while I do some of my best myth-busting work.
Myth 1: “If I’m not drenched in sweat it wasn’t hard enough.”
Let’s get this straight: just because you’re not sweating absolute buckets at the end of a workout, doesn’t mean you didn’t crush it.
Firstly, there’s the obvious difference between training styles: a HIIT session will probably make you sweat more than slowly lifting heavy weights, but that doesn’t mean one is better than the other.
Training outdoors in the summer heat is one way to up the sweat factor. Somebody bring me some water!
Sweat is there to control your body temperature – when you start heating up, sweat cools your body as it evaporates from your skin. Some people just naturally sweat more than others (no judgment!). It’s also impacted by temperature and humidity, as well as things like your muscle mass, body fat and whether you’re well hydrated.
Sometimes I’ll get really sweaty during a workout that didn’t have that effect on me the week before.
Myth 2: “If I’m not almost dead at the end it wasn’t worth it.”
While I love setting you a challenge, not every workout is going to leave you lying in a puddle on the floor. As you get fitter, the harder it is going to be to achieve that kind of total exhaustion.
Some workouts may still take you to this place, but not every workout should.
I think most of your workouts should leave you feeling energized and positive – that’s what will keep you coming back for more.
Myth 3: “I didn’t get DOMS, so I didn’t lift enough weight.”
You’ve probably heard me talk about DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) being a good sign for muscle growth – and it is. We get DOMS because intense exercise makes microscopic tears in our muscles which our body goes into repair mode to fix, leading to muscle growth.
But if you’re going into every workout with a “no pain, no gain!” mentality, you could be pushing yourself into burnout territory.
If you’re consistently lifting weights, you should NOT have DOMS every single day. It’s more common as a beginner, then as you get stronger you’re more likely to feel DOMS after an especially big workout, a PR attempt, or an unusual session that hits different muscle groups.
For instance, you’re definitely going to feel it more after one of my workouts than one of Bobby’s – I’m sure there are studies about this, I just don’t have them on me right now...
Myth 4: “I didn’t burn many calories so it doesn’t count."
Yes, I spent a lot of time checking my smartwatch when I was training for a marathon. (You’ve gotta stay on top of those stats to keep up with Dan Churchill.) That cool tech on your wrist can be motivating, but I also know people who have got a little too caught up in what their fitness tracker is telling them.
Fitness trackers can be motivating, but the amount of calories you burned doesn't tell the full story.
Your tracker can’t measure muscle, strength gains, mobility, or the fact you finally nailed the perfect lunge. (And by the way, they’re not always accurate when tracking calories.)
So how do I know I’m working hard enough?
However sweaty your gym towel is, and whatever your watch is telling you, don’t dismiss the work you know you’re putting in. Always come back to how you feel and the personal wins.
Hard work and progress can look like:
- Lifting heavier weights without breaking form.
- Doing longer workouts, or completing your workouts with fewer breaks.
- Your resting heart rate is lower. This is a good measure of your aerobic fitness – the better your capacity, the further it drops.
- Seeing physical changes. If you’ve got a goal like fat loss or adding muscle, make sure you take progress photos or get the tape measure out. When our bodies change, we tend to adjust pretty quickly – the photos and measurements give you a more objective eye. Don’t rely only on the scale as it can be misleading. I have trained people through huge physical transformations, and their weight stayed exactly the same. It’s possible to change your body composition by losing fat while gaining muscle at the same time.
Looking for more training tools and advice?
HIIT HIRT • STRENGTH • MUSCLE-BUILDING
Chris Hemsworth may wield the hammer, but it’s his personal trainer Luke Zocchi who cracks the whip. A certified personal trainer, Luke is renowned for his fast and efficient training methods, using weights and bodyweight to get maximum results in minimum time. He’ll also show you how to fuel your training with quick, easy and healthy recipes.
Sign up to unlock your full potential
All your tools in one place
Expert-training to fuel your fitness, nutrition and mindfulness.
Limitless ways to fuel your mind & body
Access to over 3,000 workouts, recipes, and meditations – all tailored to your goals.
Tech that keeps you moving
Download Centr on all your devices to level up and track your results live.