You know that growing muscles require lots of protein, but they need even more water. Don’t wait for dehydration to impact your performance. Fill up on one of the most anabolic agents there is!
A few years back, the Sports Science Institute collaborated with Bally Total Fitness on a hydration-focused study, and researchers determined that more than 40 percent of participants going into a group exercise class were partially dehydrated.1 How strongly this percentage carries to strength training individuals is unclear, but there’s no doubt about the negative impact that dehydration has on performance in weightlifting, as well as on muscular growth and recovery.
You’ve probably heard that the human body consists of approximately two-thirds water. However, this number barely begins to portray the importance of H20 from a muscular or training perspective. Let’s plumb the depths of what water means to you in the gym.
A Little Bit of Dehydration Makes a Big Difference
Several studies have indicated that during aerobic performance, such as running or cycling, performance begins to decrease when dehydration progressively exceeds 2-3 percent body weight loss.5 That may sound like a lot, but research has also shown that the thirst sensation doesn’t really kick in until you’re already dehydrated. So if it helps, think of it this way: If you’re thirsty, your performance may already be affected.
For intense training, such as multiple sprint sessions and weight training, the window is slightly larger, but the impact can still be dramatic. Power generation is thought to become compromised at 3-4 percent reduction in body weight, but one research study was able to show that upper and lower body power output was reduced after 3 percent dehydration. The researchers concluded this simple amount was enough to increase athletes’ risk of injury.6-7
Fill The Tank!
When we do the math, it becomes clear that our dietary need for water far exceeds any other essential nutrient. The symptoms of water deficiency begin to show much more rapidly than for any other nutrient, and as such, water should be a top priority throughout the day—especially if you train.
General recommendations for people who train and sweat are 3-5 litres per day, or the equivalent of about 7-15 pounds of water. Do you think this is a lot of water? Well, don’t sweat it! Some of it will come from fruits—which are often 80 percent water—and other foods. However, the bulk of your liquid needs need to come from water and watery beverages, including milk. Many weight trainers and strength athletes will hydrate before a workout and train with water bottles nearby or will frequent the water fountain, but others still ignore hydration opportunities before and during training.
Even pre-workout drinks, BCAAs, and electrolyte-based performance fluids consumed during training contribute to hydration, and the timing helps muscle cell volumization. As a general rule, drink fluids throughout the day and try to create the balance between not feeling thirsty and not spending too much time in the bathroom.
Don’t leave your results up to chance. Staying hydrated is the cheapest, easiest way there is to maximize your performance in the gym and afterward, so keep a bottle close at hand and always know where you can get more!
“YOUR HEALTH IS YOUR WEALTH”
– Jamie Wilson
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