An almost inevitable part of exercising is perspiration. When the workout gets tougher, athletes are often seen removing clothing to relieve themselves of the heat, revealing their hard-earned muscles. Is there a correlation between perspiration and muscle building, and if so, is the correlation causation?
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How Muscles Are Built
To know if perspiration is related to muscle building, we must first understand how muscles are built. Under stress, your muscles undergo micro-tears causing discomfort commonly known as DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). As your body recovers from the micro-tears, the damaged fibres are repaired to withstand greater stimuli thus increasing muscle mass and size. This cycle repeats itself as the muscles adapt to the stimuli and grow in strength.
Why We Perspire
Why then do we perspire? There are various causes for perspiration, but most of them have to do with the body’s ability to maintain homeostasis.
To regulate heat, the body tries to either trap or release heat depending on the temperature of the body. To trap or produce heat in cold temperatures, the body shivers, and body hairs stand in the attempt to preserve body heat. To release heat, the body produces sweat so that when the perspiration gets evaporated off your body, it takes the heat along.
Perspiration from nervousness aside, the human body perspires to reduce heat when either the external temperature or the body’s internal temperature is too high. In Singapore, we can relate to a sweltering day where the external temperature heats our bodies to perspiration. During exercise, however, our body heats up internally due to the breakdown of energy and friction between our muscle fibres contracting/relaxing. When the heat goes beyond the body’s accepted threshold, it signals the body to release perspiration for heat reduction.
Correlation? Yes! Causation?
This means that you will likely see a correlation between perspiring and building muscles since working out causes heat to be built up internally. And when the heat gets built up, the next natural occurrence is perspiration. However, does this mean that perspiring causes or plays a role in muscle building? No. Perspiring may occur naturally while building muscles, but it is not a direct indicator of its effectiveness. Whether or not your muscles are being trained depends on the stress you put on your muscles! So even if you’re not perspiring badly while training, don’t sweat it! 😉
If you are concerned about your hindrances to safely building muscles, do consult an expert to have your physical condition professionally assessed!
This article first appeared on the Physioactive blog.