Water is essential for human life. Water is necessary for bodily processes such as transporting glucose and oxygen, helping with digestion, removing waste and biproducts, regulating body temperature, and even making up part of your brain, blood, muscles, and bones.
Studies show that more than 40% of fitness enthusiasts are partially dehydrated during workouts. Knowing all the things that water is responsible for in the body, imagine how much more effective your exercises can be when you’re properly hydrated. Limited water intake can reduce your power, increase fatigue, and increase the risk of injury. It can also impact muscle growth and recovery.
The old rule of thumb that you need eight cups of water a day is actually outdated. Instead, currently regulations suggest women need about 11 cups a day while men need about 16 cups. In addition, how much you workout and how much you sweat will increase your need for water.
The more intense your workout, the more water you’ll need to replace what you lose in exercise. The more muscles you use, like in compound exercises, the more energy you’ll need, which requires more water. Fill up on water after those bigger compound exercises to replenish.
When you’re training, proper hydration is essential. Drink 2-3 cups of water or BCAAs two to three hours before your workout. During your workout, try to drink a cup of water around every 20 minutes. You can use this time to supplement with intra workout BCAAs or electrolytes. Adjust as needed depending on your intensity and environment (if you’re training outside in the heat, your needs will increase). Avoid gulping water all at once. You want your body to be able to digest and absorb the fluids.
Other factors that change hydration include high altitudes and climate. Higher altitudes make you more likely to be dehydrated from evaporation from your skin. Hot or humid weather can make it harder for your body to sweat, which raises your overall body temperature and increases your need for water. In cold weather, the air itself is drier, so you’ll need more water to replace that.
Water is essential for your body, but there are also some other nutrients your body can use to stay hydrated. Sports drinks are made with extra electrolytes, like sodium and potassium, that can help reduce cramping, fatigue, and nausea. Glycerol can help hyperhydrate athletes in extreme situations with long periods of exercise or higher temperatures, but it’s not necessary for average workouts in the gym.
Staying hydrated will lead to more effective workouts and therefore faster, better gains. So make sure to drink up before, during, and after your exercises to get the most out of your time in the gym.