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by Will Grumke April 08, 2020 5 min read

It’s common knowledge that the three essentials of life are food, water, and shelter.

But yet, when it comes to earning results and gaining muscle 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?

... that doesn't seem to make sense. 🤔

Now, granted I am being a bit dramatic and sarcastic to prove a point, but I need to get this point across.

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I once heard someone say, “What gets measured gets managed.”

I think this statement couldn’t be truer in all areas of life, but is especially true when you're trying to build 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 time and focus is on those tasks, since we believe those are the biggest factors in the results we earn.

Unfortunately, though, most gym-goers who're trying to build muscle are chronically dehydrated and I believe this stems from the fact that water is often 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 and lose weight.

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 just as important for our health as well as for physical performance and muscle growth as it is for weight loss.

Effects Of Dehydration On Muscle Growth

When we're training in a dehydrated state, it makes it more challenging for us to perform our best and push our bodies hard enough to stimulate the muscle growth we're looking for.

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 might be preventing us from putting on the size we're working so hard to put on.

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5 Major Reasons Dehydration Is Keeping You From Gaining Muscle.

• Low Energy Levels – There are many studies that have shown the correlation between dehydration and low energy levels.

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 training exponentially harder — it's harder to push through the last reps, harder to challenge myself, and just overall harder to have a great workout to stimulate muscle growth.

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• 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.

If you're dehydrated, you're going to face more joint pain, and could even experience more injuries because your joints need that water to function safely.

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 muscle-cramping … which can end a workout real quick! Not having enough water is a surefire way to make your muscle really tight.

• 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.

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• 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 come 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?

Are You Drinking Enough Water?

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 100oz or more of water a day. Is that an exact science? No.

It is, however, a widely accepted starting point for active individuals.

I’m talking about plain, clear water.

In my opinion, the water in your protein shake … coffee … tea … etc … does NOT count.

Some people will count it, but I don't, and I encourage my clients, friends, and family to shoot for 100oz of plain, clear water every day. Then the water in your post-workout shake, Opti-Greens 50, and so forth are just additional liquids.

The way I look at it ... If you truly know the positive benefits that water has on muscle growth … why try to "cheat" the system or count some drinks, but not others ...

Instead, just keep it simple and shoot for 100oz or more of plain water a day.

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 1-800-409-9732 between 6am-10pm CST, Monday thru Friday and talk with us!

Or simply email us at CustomerService@1stphorm.com. We are always here for you!

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Will Grumke
Will Grumke

NASM Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Certified Nutrition Coach, NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist, NASM Certified Weight Loss Specialist, NASM Certified Behavioral Change Specialist, NASM VCS Virtual Coaching Specialist, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer