It’s common knowledge that the three essentials of life are food, water, and shelter.
But yet, when it comes to earning results in the gym, the majority of people don’t even consider the role of water. They will tell you that it’s 80% nutrition, 20% exercise and if you can’t do your nutrition, add in supplements. Now, I am not saying that is directly wrong … but where did the water go?!
Water is an ESSENTIAL element of life … but not an essential element for building muscle? Yea … because that makes sense.
Now, granted I am being a bit dramatic and sarcastic to prove a point, but I need to get this point across.
I once heard someone say, “What gets measured gets managed.”
I think this statement couldn’t be truer! In all areas of life, but also for building muscle. We will take the time to measure our food … we measure/track our workouts … we measure/track our supplement routine … therefore, we manage those areas. Which really just means that our focus is on those tasks since we believe those are the biggest factors in the results we earn.
Unfortunately, though, most gym goers are chronically dehydrated and I believe this stems from the fact it’s left out of the conversation, diminishing its importance, which makes it an afterthought and therefore doesn’t get tracked consistently. If water is tracked, it’s typically by people who are looking to burn fat. I think this is because the benefits of water intake on weight loss are more well known.
The reality of the situation is that staying hydrated is important for our health as well as for physical performance and muscle growth.
Effects Of Dehydration On Muscle Growth
When we train in a dehydrated state it makes it more challenging for us to perform our best and push our bodies hard enough to stimulate muscle growth. Why does our performance suffer and ultimately our results suffer when we are dehydrated? Great question. Let’s dive into the negative effects dehydration has on your life inside and outside of the gym that prevents us from putting on the size we want. Here are 5 major reasons you are not gaining muscle because you are dehydrated.
- Low Energy Levels – There are many studies that have shown the correlation between low energy levels and dehydration. When we are dehydrated our blood volume drops which can lead to feelings of fatigue and slower reaction times. I don’t know about you, but if I’m tired in the gym, it makes it exponentially harder to have a great workout to stimulate growth.
- Poor Joint Health – Our body is roughly 65% water. Due to this, water plays a major role in fluid joint movements and helps provide protection to the joint while training. All too often we hear and see people who are limited in their abilities in and out of the gym due to joint pain. Even worse is when someone has to take time off from training due to joint pain. Neither of those situations will help you grow muscle.
- Cramping – Simply put, if you’re dehydrated while training, the likelihood of cramping increases exponentially. No matter if you sweat profusely or just barely glisten, your body needs adequate amounts of water for proper muscle contractions and to prevent cramping… which can end a workout real quick!
- Toxic Waste Build Up – Water is responsible for transporting nutrients and oxygen into the cells for proper function. Water is also responsible for transporting toxic waste OUT of the cells, and out of our bodies. Commonly known waste products from training are lactic acid and carbon dioxide. If our body is not hydrated it cannot do these jobs effectively and will lead to inhibiting our performance in the gym and decreasing muscle growth potential.
- Poor Digestion – To gain muscle and put on size, we have to eat a caloric surplus. This means eating MORE calories than we burn. Now, to actually get the benefits of more macronutrients that comes from eating more food, our body has to be able to digest the food and absorb the nutrients. Water plays a role in digestion through the production of saliva and gastric fluids. Both of those are crucial for proper digestion. Therefore, dehydration will lead to poor digestion and that will inhibit your ability to absorb the nutrients you need to build muscle.
How Much Water Should I Drink?
Ask 10 people that question and you may very well get 10 different answers. One thing I think we can all agree on is that there is no chance the standard 8 glasses of water a day will be enough for you while trying to put on muscle. The standard 64oz of water is for inactive individuals, not for those of us trying to perform our best and pack on muscle.
A good rule of thumb is consuming 1 oz of water per pound of body weight. Is that an exact science? No. It is, however, a widely accepted approach because larger individuals will require more water because they have more muscle mass, will be eating more food, and therefore will need more water to keep up with the demands. As body weight goes up, so does the ounces of water required per day.
Now, when I say 1 oz of water per pound of body weight, I’m talking about plain, clear water. The water in your protein shake … coffee … tea … etc … does NOT count. It always interests me that people will argue those fluids count. But really, it’s just trying to find the easy way to hit your requirement. Let me ask you this … how often is the easy way the best way to get the best results? If you truly know the positive benefits that water has on muscle growth … why try to cheat the system and get away with the bare minimum?
If you’re serious about your results, drink water.
If you’d like help with the best way to work water into your daily routine … or have any other questions about the best way to get the results you are after, please feel free to contact us. You can call in to 800-409-9732 between 6am-10pm CST, Monday thru Friday and talk with us! Or simply email us at [email protected]. We are always here for you!
*This post was written by Will Grumke. He is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist, NASM Certified Weight Loss Specialist, NASM Behavioral Change Specialist, and CrossFit Level 1 Trainer.