Water is to the athlete (or recreational exercise guy) what “mojo” was to Austin Powers—the life force, the energy, and the “certain I don’t know what,” to quote Dr. Evil. If you don’t have enough of it in your system, you simply may not be able to perform at your best, in the gym or out, and you may have a harder time building the body you want. In fact, your muscles are more than 70 percent H2O, and here are just a few reasons you need to keep them topped off at all times.
A 2010 study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology had 10 men, who strength trained more than twice a week for six weeks, perform a full total-body workout twice—once when they were 100 percent hydrated, and another when they were 97 percent hydrated, after losing just 3 percent of the water making up their body mass. The researchers found that the total number of repetitions the men performed was significantly lower when they trained in the 97 percent hydrated state—they averaged one to two fewer reps per exercise. On top of that, their subjective rating of perceived exertion was higher, and it took longer for their heart rates to recover.
Unfortunately, your body may not handle not being fully hydrated any better if you’re just doing cardio. In 2013, the Journal of Athletic Training looked at 10 experienced endurance cyclists (those who have competed in national races for three to eight years) who trained for one hour of steady-state work and then cycled up a five-kilometer hill at maximum effort. One group drank to rehydrate completely before the hill climb, and the others stopped just short, beginning the trek only 99 percent hydrated. Not only did the well-hydrated subjects complete the ride faster than the dry guys, they also stayed cooler and perceived the workout as easier.
To maintain proper hydration in your workouts, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends drinking 16–20 ounces of water or sports drink at least four hours before exercise and another eight to 12 oz up to 15 minutes before. Then drink 3–8 oz every 15 minutes during your workout. FIJI Water offers a 700ml bottle (about 23 oz) of artesian water in a pack of 12 for $29 (fijiwater.com).
Some information for this article was provided by FIJI Water.