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Hydration & Fitness: How Does Water Promote Muscle Gain?

by Iron Flask on

To boost the volume, tone, and strength of your muscles, water is one of your greatest allies. Not only does it lubricate the joints and regulate body temperature, but it also gives you energy by transporting nutrients to every area of the body, including the musculoskeletal system.

From the Iron Flask Group, the makers of America's favorite sports water bottle, here are some reasons why fitness and hydration go together like peanut butter and jelly — especially when it comes to promoting muscle gain.

What Are the Benefits of Hydration?

First, it’s important to understand that hydration is essential to our bodies as a whole, not just for muscle gain. As one of the most important nutrients in the body, water maintains balance in all of the systems in the body, including the heart, brain, lungs, kidneys, and muscles. As the experts from familydoctor.org explain, "If you're not hydrated, your body can't perform at its highest level. You may feel tired, have muscle cramps, dizziness, or other serious symptoms."

In fact, just a 2% reduction in the amount of water in your body can cause a slight shrinkage of the brain, resulting in decreased concentration and neuromuscular coordination. Jeff Behar from bodybuilding.com points out how even mild dehydration can negatively affect the muscles: "Dehydration can also reduce endurance, decrease strength, cause cramping, and slow muscular response."

But when you stay properly hydrated, you can maximize your training sessions with a long list of water’s well-known health benefits:

  • Water helps improve every system in the body, including the skin, teeth, and bones, plus all of your joints.
  • Water also improves the digestive system by helping your body maintain a healthy urinary tract and balancing your metabolism.
  • Water reduces fatigue, one of the most common symptoms of mild dehydration.
  • Water can help with weight loss, studies show, because it naturally increases metabolism while also acting as an appetite suppressant.

As Behar explains, "Water is the medium in which all energy reactions take place . . . Athletes who become dehydrated often find reduced performance in the days following."

How Can Hydration Support Muscle Gain?

When it comes to promoting muscle gain, water also plays a key role because it transports the nutrients needed for producing protein and glycogen structures, the building blocks of muscles in the body. Behar also points out the importance of water for providing freedom of movement and being able to flex your muscles: "If your body is dehydrated, your muscles will be deprived of electrolytes and cramp. Since muscles are controlled by nerves, without proper water and electrolyte balance, muscle strength and control will also be impaired." Consequently, getting enough water is essential for building muscle and maintaining optimal performance.

Simple Ways To Stay Hydrated

Now that you understand the importance of sufficient hydration during exercise, here are a few simple and effective ways to achieve optimal performance with good old-fashioned H2O:

Invest In a High-Quality Water Jug

When it comes to staying hydrated with water, the quality is equally as important as the quantity. Compared to plastic, a go-to for convenience, a premium quality water jug made with stainless steel is non-toxic and doesn’t contain harmful chemicals like BPA, which can leach into the body over time. One of the best materials for a sports water bottle, premium stainless steel also never rusts, so your water won’t have an unpleasant metal aftertaste. It also will last a lifetime, which means less plastic pollution in the environment, a major contributing factor to climate change. Not only is a reusable water jug better for your health, but it’s also better for the planet, making it a win-win for everybody.

Whether you’re working out at the gym, out on the trail, or out and about, a stainless steel water bottle also provides you with easy access to water on all your everyday adventures. Look for one with a durable handle, which will provide an easy, slip-free grip when you’re on the go. There are several types of lids that are also designed for the active lifestyle, including a flip-top spout, a flexible straw, and a wide mouth design, all of which provide drip-free water access and never any leakage or spills. Choose the one that works for you and start hydrating.

Pre-Hydrate, Exercise, Rehydrate & Repeat

For optimal athletic performance and muscle gain, staying sufficiently hydrated during your workout isn't enough. According to experts on sports nutrition, you also need to drink enough fluids before and after your workout. How much water you need depends on several factors such as the intensity of your workouts and your unique physiology.

As a general rule, the American Council on Exercise suggests drinking 17 to 20 oz of water about 2 or 3 hours before your workout. During your warm-up, they advise drinking 8 oz of water; when you're exercising, you should drink 7 to 10 oz of water every 10 to 20 minutes. Finally, they recommend drinking 8 oz of water no more than 30 minutes after your workout. Furthermore, if you sweat during your training session, you should drink 16 to 24 oz of water for every pound of lost body weight. For more information on how to calculate your sweat rate, check out our blog, “Staying Hydrated in Winter: How Important Is It?

For high-intensity workouts lasting longer than an hour, the sports nutrition experts from familydoctor.org recommend staying hydrated with a sports drink, which will help replace any salts or electrolytes that are lost through sweating. You should also be careful in choosing the right sports drink for your needs. According to familydoctor.org, "They are often high in calories from added sugar and may contain high levels of sodium . . . If you drink the entire bottle, you may need to double or triple the amounts given on the nutrition facts label." They also point out that some sports drinks contain caffeine, which may have a diuretic effect on the body, causing frequent urination which means more fluids to replace.

With the combination of a weekly fitness routine and plenty of hydration, you’ll be able to achieve all your fitness goals!

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