Water can make you stronger!
The title may seem a bit odd since water does not contain any specific muscle building nutrients, but more and more studies are being published highlighting the importance of hydration is strength performance. Let us see what the science says.
Research shows that a body weight loss of just 2% of your total body weight can hinder your performance. This percentage is quite commonly lost due to sweat loss when in the gym. Further studies have shown that as little as 1.5% body weight loss due to sweat can result in decreased muscular strength, increased core body temperature and increases the likelihood of muscle cramps. It was thus concluded that maintaining proper hydration is the most efficient way to produce muscular strength and power throughout exercise. It was further concluded that hydration prior to training is more important than hydration during and after training, although all three periods are important periods to remain hydrated.
How much should you drink before training?
Research suggests at least 400 to 600 millilitres of water or fluids be consumed 2 hours before training.
How much should you drink during training?
Based on personal factors, training factors and environmental facts, an individual can lose between 0.5 to 2 litres of sweat per hour. Therefore, drinking between 0.5 to 2 litres of water per hour of training is important. Furthermore, water is adequate for sessions that are less than 90 minutes in duration, however, sessions longer than 90 minutes will require a carbohydrate rich beverage (this will fuel the exercising muscles). Supplementation with electrolytes is generally not needed since most diets are more than adequate in these electrolytes. The only time it would be warranted is when the individual is in a calorie deficit. You SHOULD NOT wait until you are thirsty to drink water. It should be consumed regularly in at least 15-minute intervals.
How much should you drink after training?
If one wants to be accurate when calculating fluid requirements after training, research suggest that around 700ml be consumed for every 0.5kg (1 pound) of bodyweight lost after training. Therefore, you would need to weigh yourself prior to and after training to accurately calculate how much fluid has been lost.
Therefore, maintaining adequate hydration before, during and after training is vital to improving performance.