Why Don’t I Sweat When I Workout?

You’re working out as intensely as you can, but you can’t seem to break a significant sweat. Are you doing not working out hard enough?

Walking out of the workout drenched in sweat might look like the ultimate signal of a fast and furious workout. It’s easy to think that if you don’t have to wring out your gym shirt, you didn’t even try. It might be the opposite of glamorous outside of the gym, but a lot of strength athletes take pride in their sweat sheen inside the gym. It means you’re working hard, right?

Well, sometimes. Some people — no matter how hard they’re going — just don’t sweat as much as others. Maybe you’re one of those sweatless wonders. You’re working your calves off on the treadmill and wondering why the person next to you is looking like Niagra Falls while you’ve barely even got a sheen of sweat.

The good news is, it’s normal for different people to have different rates of sweat — and different areas that sweat tends to pool first. But while sweating very little doesn’t necessarily reflect the quality of your workout, it may be an indicator of something else going on in your body (think: dehydration). There could be a few different reasons why you’re not sweating during your workout, and to optimize your workouts, your recovery, and your overall health, it helps to understand why.

Editor’s note: The content on BarBend is meant to be informative in nature, but it shouldn’t take the place of advice and/or supervision from a medical professional. The opinions and articles on this site are not intended for use as diagnosis, prevention, and/or treatment of health problems. Speak with your physician if you have any concerns.

You’ve known this since you started sweating around your crush in sixth grade, but a refresher never hurts. That salty liquid that can leave your armpits soaked, your forehead glistening, and your hands clammy is known as sweat. It’s produced by sweat glands under your skin, and it’s how your body tries to cool itself down so you don’t overheat. Sweat is more than just a reaction during physical activity — you also might get that ambient glow when you’re hot, anxious, or have a fever.

There are three types of sweat glands: eccrine, apocrine, and apoeccrine. You have eccrine sweat glands almost everywhere on your body. These are responsible for producing the most amount of sweat. When your body gets hot, it can start to sweat to help control its temperature — that’s where these glands come in. Eccrine sweat glands secrete water to the surface of your skin, where it’s then evaporated — think about that cold shiver you get when you walk outside after your workout. 

Apocrine sweat glands are isolated to certain parts of the body like your armpits, breasts, face, and head. These are the glands that are responsible for body odor but don’t function as such until puberty. Apoeccrine sweat glands are also isolated only to the armpits and start developing around eight to 14 years old. (1)