Good Things Come to Those Who Sweat
Written by Jason Fryer
We all sweat.
…except for this guy…
It is important to be aware that sweating is a way for your body to regulate its temperature. It is a necessary part of exercise, and I don’t know of any really good ways to stop it from happening, nor do I think it would be a good thing not to sweat.
That being said, we can do a few things while still being sweaty to help offset the gross part and to provide our partners with a clean, if not dry, training experience.
Can sweat be a problem during training?
Sweat can be a problem in class, but then again, if you ever abruptly stop sweating in class it can be a signal that your body is overworking and is starting to shut down! From a safety standpoint, we do have to be careful with sweat on the mat as mats can get slippery, and we prefer that we stay on our feet in Krav Maga.
But, the bigger problem is not sweat. It’s body odor & clothing odor.
This is more often caused by old sweat, which comes from wearing the same shirt multiple days without cleaning it effectively (emphasis on “effectively”), or not showering regularly enough.
How much does deodorant help?
Deodorant is kind of like just using a breath mint without brushing or flossing your teeth: it will mask the problem, but it doesn’t really help in the long term… you still need to shower just like you still need to brush your teeth. Perfume and cologne are even worse. They mask odors but replace them with stronger odors, and these strong smells can be just as, if not more, offensive as body odor. It is important to wear the same deodorant that you would on a regular basis, but it is not a replacement for being clean.
Does it matter what you wear to class (certain fabrics or items of clothing)?
Choice of fabrics is important! Wicking fibers and performance clothing are very helpful for reducing the effects of sweating! Wearing a rashguard under your t-shirt will help to control moisture: it pulls water away from the skin and helps it to evaporate. This also adds an extra layer between sweat and your t-shirt. Think of it like wearing a very thin sponge. I wear rashguards under my T-shirts every time I train or teach for exactly this reason.
If you are looking for good rashguards, here is one that I like…
You can also subscribe to emails from BJJHQ.com. They offer a really good deal every day, and every few days that deal is for a rashguard. Just be sure to care for your rashguards or Dri Fit shirts properly after wearing them (see the sections below for more info), since these fabrics will hold odor for longer if they’re not cleaned effectively.
Here’s another option for you! You can consider wearing a bandana or headband to help keep sweat from getting in your eyes or from splashing your partner. This is especially useful for bald guys like me, but bandanas or sweatbands are great for everyone. I mean, check this guy out:
Can you destroy clothes with sweat? (Mildew!) How do you prevent that?
Absolutely! Sweat can destroy clothes and can even shorten the life of your gear. For instance, sweat inside your gloves will break down the interior lining. This can have the effect of wearing out your gloves before you get a chance to wear out the padding. Glove dogs can help a lot with this.
Also, don’t allow your wet clothes to get balled up, which creates the opportunity for mildew and odor. You’ve got to tackle Krav Laundry the same way you practice Krav Maga: always address the immediate threat! For a choke, the immediate threat is not being able to breathe or get blood to the brain, so we use the pluck to address this. For Krav Laundry, the immediate threat is mildew and odor. To deal with this, I have a three step laundry process:
1. Lay clothes flat for the ride home. I never wad them up and shove them in my bag! I generally keep the sweaty clothes separate from my gear. This even includes my hand wraps, which I don’t roll after using. I just take them and fold them loosely in half a handful of times and let them dry. Mesh bags are also handy for keeping hand wraps from getting tangled up with the rest of your laundry.
2. When I get home, the clothes don’t go directly in the hamper, they get left out over a rack to dry outside. This is very important! All clothes need to be dry before they get piled on top of each other. Sunshine also works wonders for eliminating odor.
If I am not doing laundry that day, the clothes go into the hamper after they have dried in the sun.
3. Do the laundry! Use a good detergent. Often, I will also throw a scoop of OxyClean into the wash to help control odor.
It is a sad fact that sometimes you just have to retire a particular piece of clothing. T-shirts will get a funky smell that never comes out of the material, and gloves will eventually start to smell so bad that they can make your opponent’s eyes water. While this may be effective in keeping attackers away from you outside the gym, it is not a good methodology for training (or making friends).
When should a person bring a towel to train?
Probably always! I always have a towel or something similar to wipe off my face on a regular basis. But, please do remember to take your towel home with you and to treat it like the rest of your Krav Laundry.
How do you keep mat shoes from getting gross?
A good way to keep mat shoes from getting gross is to air them out. This really applies to all of your gear. When you get home, it should all come out of the bag to air dry. You will often see my shinguards (they are bright yellow and hard to miss) sitting in front of the fan to dry before I pack my gear up again.
Also, you know those little silica gel packets that everyone usually just throws away? The ones that look like packets of salt or sugar? Those exist to help absorb moisture. Throw a few of those into your gym bag to help absorb the moisture from your gear and shoes if you don’t have a chance to air them out.
Is there a healthy way to simply sweat less?
I wish I knew a good way to sweat less. I would use it. But, it seems to me that no matter how hard or easy I train, or what the circumstances are, I will be sweaty inside of 15 minutes. It is possible to change the smell of your sweat a bit based on what you eat. If you don’t believe that what you ingest has an impact on your body odor, think for a minute about the effects of asparagus on the smell of your urine, or think about the strong smell of alcohol on your skin the day after too much drinking. Eating clean and drinking plenty of water helps to keep you smelling clean even if you sweat as much as I do.
Is it cool to bring changes of clothes for a long night of training?
Is it cool? It’s maybe one of the coolest things you can do! When I train I generally go through more than one set of clothes, often changing as often as every hour, or every class. This makes everybody more comfortable. Not necessarily because a change of clothes will stay dry for long (though the rashguards do help with this), but because clean clothes are just better than dirty clothes.
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Fights are dirty affairs, they rarely abide by rules, and they often are a mess of sweat, blood and tears. So, if you the chance to train with the sweatiest person in room, you should take it and get a different perspective on how effective your training really is.