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Water in/Water out: Why Hydration and Perspiration are the Yin and the Yang of Your Workout

CrossFit class

Is there anything better than a long drink of cold water after a grueling CrossFit class? The body craves it and there are very good reasons for this. Water regulates the body’s temperature, it lubricates those joints that have been pounded into submission and it also helps to transport nutrients, giving the athlete just enough energy to get up off the floor and go home!

If hydration is the yin of your workout, then perspiration is the yang.

In addition to being the body’s air conditioner, sweat has many other remarkable advantages. These range from purging toxins from the body to acting as an antibiotic for the skin.

Having the right amount of water coming in and going out in the form of sweat, is another part of getting fit. Here are some facts about the importance of hydration and sweat.

Never Underestimate the Power of Hydration

How to stay Hydrated

According to, if an athlete is not properly hydrated, it is impossible for him/her to perform adequately. Without this water, muscle cramps, dizziness, fatigue or many other, more serious symptoms will occur. How much water is needed?

The American Council on Exercise has suggested the following basic guidelines for drinking water before, during, and after exercise:

  • Drink 17 to 20 ounces of water 2 to 3 hours before you start exercising
  • Drink 8 ounces of water 20 to 30 minutes before you start exercising or during your warm-up
  • Drink 7 to 10 ounces of water every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise
  • Drink 8 ounces of water no more than 30 minutes after you exercise

Athletes may want to measure how much fluid they lose during exercise to get a more specific measurement of how much water to drink (16 to 24 ounces of water for every pound of body weight lost).

Many athletes favor sports drinks instead of water. There are good and bad aspects of this hydration strategy. First the good: The potassium and nutrients in some sports drinks can help provide energy and electrolytes to help an athlete perform for a longer period of time.

Now here’s the bad: They are often high in calories from added sugar and may contain high levels of sodium. If the objective of a workout is to lose some weight, adding unnecessary calories is counterproductive. Plus, some sports drinks contain caffeine. All and all, water is the best, cheapest and most healthy drink to hydrate the body.

Signs of Dehydration

Dehydration occurs when an athlete loses more fluid than he drinks. When the body doesn't have enough water, it can't work properly. Dehydration can range from mild to severe. Symptoms of dehydration can include the following:

  • Dizziness or lightheaded feeling
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle cramps
  • Dry mouth
  • Lack of sweating
  • Hard, fast heartbeat

Symptoms of severe dehydration can include mental confusion, weakness, and loss of consciousness. You should get emergency medical attention immediately if you have any of these symptoms.

Too Much Agua

Weirdly as it seems, it is possible to drink too much water. This brings about a condition known as Hyponatremia which is a rare condition that happens when there is too little sodium in the body. It can occur in athletes who drink too much water. Athletes who participate in endurance activities (for example, marathons or triathlons) have a higher risk of hyponatremia. When sodium levels in your body are too low, your cells begin to swell with water. This can cause your brain to swell. It can also cause your lungs to fill with fluid. Symptoms of hyponatremia can include confusion, headache, vomiting, and swelling of the hands and feet.

How do you know you have an adequate amount of hydration? That’s simple. It’s all about the urine.  If his/her urine is consistently colorless or light yellow, the athlete is most likely staying well hydrated. Dark yellow or amber-colored urine is a sign of dehydration.

No Sweat? Big Problem

sweating from CrossFit workout

Perspiration may be the most under-rated bodily function in history. (I know what you’re thinking. And YES it’s just as important as THAT one!). For a CrossFit athlete and anyone else who gets hot and sweaty, it’s a miracle drug.

According to the Lifehack Blog , there are at least ten “amazing benefits” to sweat that most people never think of. These include:

  1.  Sweat glands help heal wounds

For the last few years, more and more research has been done on eccrine sweat glands which host an important reservoir of adult stem cells which aid in the process of wound closures.

  1.  Sweat enables toxin release

When the body heats up, toxins are released from our system using sweat as the conduit.  Experts agree that we mainly release excess salt, cholesterol and alcohol. Which means that a sweaty work-out will de-bloat us, clean our clogged arteries and help with a hangover?

  1.  Sweating is an antibiotic

If the skin is wounded by a small cut, a scratch, or the sting of a mosquito, antibiotic agents secreted in sweat glands, such as dermcidin, rapidly and efficiently kill invaders.

  1.  Sweating can inhibit kidney stones

Research shows that regular exercisers and dedicated water drinkers flush their system more efficiently and help to control the onset of kidney stones.  Sweating during exercise causes the body to demand more hydration which in turn keeps the kidneys flushed.

  1.  Regular physical training produces amazing sweat glands

CrossFitters push themselves into whole new arenas of training.  Fortunately, our body’s incredible anticipation of these sessions allows it to begin cooling earlier as well increasing the actual size of sweat glands to keep up with body’s needs.  

  1.  Sweat cleanses pollutants from the skin

The sweat glands tend to be one of the ways our body rids itself of dangerous pollutants such as BPA.  Even when not detected in blood or urine, our sweat has shown potential to effectively eliminate BPA from our system.

  1.  Sweating is happy juice for the brain

Getting good and sweaty can improve one’s demeanor but it is important to train with heavier weight training or anaerobic exertion to get the real benefit. A person’s endorphin level is unique and it will be through trial and error to find the right kind of physical activity that will induce your very own brain “opiates” and get you hooked on feeling the “rush” after sweating it out.

  1.  Sweat is a natural pain reliever

Those exercise endorphins not only stimulate the brain’s mood enhancers, they also are natural pain relievers.  Exercise stimulates neurochemical pathways in the brain, resulting in the production of endorphins that act as natural painkillers.

  1.  The zits take hit from perspiration

By opening up your pores, the perspiration process helps them release the grit and grime that holds in bacteria which as we all know, leads to ZITS.  

  1.  Sweating is a personal HVAC system

This is still the best reason for good, old fashion sweating. Regular exercise, which keeps the sweat glands in tip top shape, help our bodies regulate its temperature more easily.

Whether it is hydration or perspiration, to get the best benefit and stay safe in your CrossFit workout, watch the water!  Let us know what you think about this by posting on our Facebook page . Oh yeah…send this article to a friend. That’s what friends are for.