First of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is sweat itself.
Sweat — the unreasoning, uncompromising and unjustified terror that has forever ruined the gray T-shirt for me. That has made me keep deodorant in my desk drawer at work. That has instilled in me a preternatural aversion to crowded subway cars.
During the summer especially, I live subservient to my sweat. It affects the way that I dress, the type of food I eat, even the way I think. Any real Sweater (and I suspect there are many like me) has experienced the impending, oncoming doom of a sweat outbreak on a scorching August day. You try to remain calm. You tell yourself to take deep breaths and relax, that the sweat will stop.
Guess what? Sweat has you right where it wants you. Sweat can smell your fear.
And as soon as you start to mentally fight it, the anatomic floodgates open wide. Next thing you know, you’ve sweated through another shirt.
For chronic Sweaters working out in midsummer heat, that’s a problem. Sweat gets in your eyes. Returning from a long run, I find that waterlogged cotton shirts can lead to irritation and rashes. Sometimes, sweat will soak through and permanently damage headphone cords (one of many reasons I finally made the switch to wireless).
But the central deterrent for all heavy Sweaters? It affects your performance. When the sun is beating down on you, you obviously sweat harder, get tired more quickly and lose ability to concentrate, regardless of what you’re doing to work out. It’s the last thing we want to think about, but not dealing with sweat effectively is making the way you exercise less efficient.
Here’s the good news: We can fight sweat with what we wear. The basic premise is simple.
Ordinary fabrics like the aforementioned cotton — particularly dark colors — heat up really, really fast in the sun. You get tired way quicker than under normal circumstances, and your workout will end prematurely, period.
Every instinct I’ve ever had in my lifelong battle with sweat has told me the way to fight this is to shed layers. But the shirtless workout is actually more of a vanity thing (flaunt it if you’ve got it though) — while it might seem refreshing, you’re exposing yourself directly to the sun and further expediting fatigue.
The key to training in high heat is fighting sweat and staying dry — and here’s the thing: Less is not more when it comes to perspiration prevention. It might seem counterintuitive, but as long as it’s made of good stuff, it doesn’t matter if you’re rocking long-sleeve, short-sleeve, sleeveless, button-down, spandex, shorts or a headband. What you wear is how you beat sweat, period.
The right apparel can do a number of things. It protects you from the sun and removes moisture from your body. It extends the quality of your workouts and even helps keep your skin healthy by reducing irritation. Mentally, it eliminates a major distraction. Worry less about finding shaded areas to run, and forget about bringing a spare change of socks, shorts, spandex and shirt. You won’t be that guy who nobody wants to guard when you play shirts versus skins pickup hoops. You might even avoid another argument with the notoriously stingy front desk guy who refuses to give out extra towels.
When I’m exercising, I’m tired of being perpetually soaked. When I arrive at the office I’m over being the guy who always looks like his mom is going through his internet browser history. I want to work out longer and sustain my progress, and I need to start my day as dry and as cool as I possibly can.
That’s all the reason I need to take closer stock of what I’m wearing, instead of hopelessly wishing for more socially acceptable situations to take my shirt off.
If you’re in a similar situation, the choice is the same. Start running with a beach towel around your neck, or put on some quality gear and rearm yourself with the weapons you need to win the war against sweat. See my August Sweatlist below.
- UA Streaker Run V-Neck — The original UA gear is simply the lightest running shirt in the game.
- UA coldblack® Groove — My office is casual, and this polo makes me look borderline formal while casually dispelling the liter of sweat I accumulate on my commute.
- UA CoolSwitch Training Cap — This is not necessarily for a workout but is a sun blocker/sweat absorber whenever I’m outside for prolonged periods.