It's easy to hear that proper hydration is important when exercising, and that the benefits of drinking water can't be overstated. It's much harder to actually keep track of how much water you've had to drink and whether it's enough. With so many conflicting sources of information, you can be forgiven for not knowing exactly how much water you need during your workout routine. That's why we here at VYBE Percussion created an article to help explain what can go wrong if you don't hydrate properly during your workout, as well as some ways to keep your muscles hydrated and healthy.
Why Is It Important to Be Hydrated?
During a workout, your body generates more heat than it does when you're sitting still. This leads to sweating and excess water loss in your body, which can reduce the performance of your muscles. The more your body has to recover from dehydration, the less effort it can put into building muscle. For these reasons, it is critical to be well hydrated during your workouts; whether you're taking a light jog or running an ultramarathon. Staying hydrated can improve your ultimate performance and maximize your gains from working out.
How Much Water Should You Really Be Drinking Daily?
The common rule of thumb is 64 ounces (or 2 liters) of fresh water a day, but your needs will probably vary. If you exercise a lot or are prone to upset stomachs, you may need to drink more water than the average. If you eat a lot of water-rich food, you may not need to drink as much water.
Most people get more than enough water through their daily drinking and eating habits, but if you plan on working out you should actively stay hydrated, as working out depletes your body of this water. This is especially true if your workout is outdoors on a hot day, or if you are doing high intensity workouts. You may have to adjust your workout plan based on your hydration level, but it's much better (and healthier) to adjust your hydration based on your workout plans.
What Are the Signs of Dehydration?
Dehydration is more than just thirst. Common signs that you are dehydrated include:
- Extreme thirst
- Dark-colored urine
- Muscle aches
Chronic dehydration can lead to kidney issues and chronic pain as well as kidney stones and high blood pressure.
How Much Water Should You Drink in a 1-Hour Workout?
The American Council on Exercise recommends being very well hydrated during a workout, which involves some prep work on your part. Especially if you're going to be exercising on a hot day, the ACE recommends:
- 17 to 20 ounces of water in the 2-3 hours before your workout
- Another 8 ounces 20-30 minutes before you start working out
- 7-10 ounces of water every 10-20 minutes during your workout
- 8 ounces after your workout
For a 1-hour workout, this equates to drinking between 54 and 96 ounces of water, or between 1.6 and 2.8 liters. This amount of water keeps your muscles well hydrated and even prevents them from aches and cramps. Drinking water before and after your workout helps prevent your muscles from becoming dehydrated in the first place and reduces the need for after-the-fact treatments such as percussion massage guns.
Can Exercise Be Harmful if You Don't Drink Enough Water?
Starving your muscles of the water they need can cause unnecessary pain and stress on your body. This can lead to muscle aches and cramping, which can cause more severe issues (such as sprains and strains) if left untreated. Dehydration also impairs your body's ability to deal with heat, which can lead to heat stroke and heat exhaustion, especially in the summer. Even on cool days, this extra heat makes you more tired after exercise.
How Much Water Is Too Much?
While overhydration is rare, it is possible to drink too much water. Drinking too much water upsets the balance of electrolytes in your body and can cause anything from headaches and muscle weakness to seizures and even coma. To avoid this, make sure to also take in electrolytes such as salt as you exercise. Sports drinks such as Gatorade and Powerade are made for this reason. It is also a good idea to drink less water if you feel you've become overhydrated, thus preventing this from becoming an issue in the first place.
Can You Gain Muscle Without Drinking Water?
While you can gain muscle without drinking water, you gain much more muscle if you're hydrated. This is because electrolyte balance is critical in muscle growth and your body can't focus on building muscle if you have dehydrated muscles. You'll also be able to spend more time exercising if you're well hydrated, as you won't lose time due to cramps and soreness.
I Got Dehydrated, What Do I Do Now?
The first step is simple: the best way to stay hydrated is to drink water or sports drinks to help your body regain its fluid content. This helps the root cause, but symptoms such as sore muscles can persist long after you've rehydrated yourself. This is where using a percussion massage gun such as the VYBE Flex can really be useful. These tools can reduce muscle pain and increase circulation, which means that water gets to where it needs to be faster than it would without a massager.
Contributing Writer: Elizabeth Miller