September 28, 2021

A Simple Guide To Sweat Testing

Sweat testing is used to determine how much sodium is lost in your sweat and to establish an optimal hydration strategy that boosts performance and reduces your chances of cramping.

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Because I live in Singapore, the in-person coaching I do is in extreme heat and humidity. As a result, I often see the effects of insufficient hydration. It shows itself in the form of cramps, poor performance, and in extreme cases, collapse.

A large part of my coaching focuses on fueling and ensuring our athletes get enough energy, water, and electrolytes to optimise their training and racing performance.

This article will explain sweat and why sweat testing helps establish a hydration plan that works.

Why Do We Sweat?

Simply put, sweating is your body’s way of cooling itself down. By promoting heat loss through evaporation, sweat helps regulate your body temperature.

Sweat is comprised mainly of water, but it also contains sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium and magnesium.

What Is Sweat Testing, And Why Should You Do It?

We do sweat testing to measure how much sodium you lose in your sweat. There are various methods for measuring sodium loss, but at Coached, we use non-exercise sweat testing in partnership with our friends at Precision Hydration.

Non-exercise sweat testing has the advantage of being less time consuming, and it doesn’t require significant exertion. Also, the collection and analysis process is very controlled and simple. 

The results are highly reliable and reproducible, with a low risk of ‘user error’ in administering the test. For that reason, doctors use non-exercise sweat testing in the diagnosis of Cystic Fibrosis where accuracy is essential.

This method uses chemicals applied to the skin to mimic the effect of certain neurotransmitters that stimulate the sweat glands and allow sweat samples to be collected ‘at rest’. Because it’s effortless, sweat testing is the most enjoyable test we offer in the Coached Lab.

Once we know how much sodium you lose in your sweat, we can customise a hydration strategy that will optimise performance and lower your risk of suffering from cramps. 

You’ll race faster, play better, and recover more quickly after training and racing.

Cut Race Times, Not Corners.

Racing at your potential and enjoying training is easy when you’re following the right programme.

Who Can Benefit From Sweat Testing?

Sweat testing is beneficial for anyone who sweats for long periods or is prone to cramping during exercise.

We’ve tested soldiers, endurance athletes from multiple sports, team sports players, engineers working outdoors, and many others.

The result is always the same; an increase in performance and comfort in hot and humid conditions from those that apply the hydration strategies we provide.

Sweat Testing: The Results

A benefit of the non-exercise testing method that we use is that results are instant.

On completion of your test, we run your sweat through our analyser to determine the sodium lost in your sweat.

Below is my result. 

Sweat test results indictating sodium loss of 1250mg/l

As you can see, I lose 1249 mg/l of sodium in my sweat, which is considered high.

I also have a moderate sweat rate which means I need to pay close attention to my hydration status and fuel carefully during training and racing to maximise my performance and keep cramps away.

You can view my complete result here.

Book Your Sweat Test

If you’re in Singapore and want to measure your sweat, we can measure you in our lab. If you’re not in Singapore, Precision Hydration has many test centres worldwide that offer the same service.

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Ben Pulham

Ben Pulham is the founder of Coached, a personalised training programme that helps runners & triathletes optimise, track and enjoy their training.