If you’re laser-focused on getting ripped and maniacally dedicated to your training program, you probably put a lot of thought into how you fuel your body. Whatever your regimen, don’t forget the simplest workout enhancer of all—pure H2O. Here are four ways to maximize the benefits of drinking water so you can perform at your best:
1. DON’T GET THIRSTY
If you find yourself yearning for something to drink between lifts, your tank is already too low. Thirst is your body’s way of telling you it’s on its way to becoming dehydrated, and it’s hard to hit peak performance when you’re playing hydration catch-up. The average adult needs at least eight glasses of water a day, but the more you work out, the more you need. One hour of intense exercise—especially in warm temps—can cause you to sweat out more than a quart of water. It has been estimated that dehydration of roughly 2.5% of your body weight could reduce high-intensity exercise performance. Water loss varies from person to person and from workout to workout, due to variables like exercise intensity and temperature humidity, so the best way to calculate water loss is to weigh yourself before and after exercise. In addition to drinking at least eight glasses of water a day, make sure to replace what’s lost through sweat during your sessions at the gym.
2. BLEND YOUR BENEFITS
If workout supplements are a part of your routine, they can be a win-win way to up your water intake. Pre-workout supplements and intra-workout supplements, like branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), are designed to dissolve in water, so you can sip your way to hydration while you rip through reps. Doing so will help you nail the intake of water and nutrients you need for optimal fuel and recovery. Plus, water helps your body absorb nutrients, so the more hydrated you are, the more benefits you’ll potentially soak up from your workout supplements.
3. OPT FOR A SLOW AND STEADY STREAM
It might be tempting to chug water right after a really intense workout, but guzzling H2O can cause gut stress and inhibit performance. Rather than slamming it down all at once, rehydrate efficiently by drinking water throughout the day. Need a boost? Sports drinks replenish the sodium and electrolytes your body loses during high-intensity exercise and can enhance your hydration efforts.
4. CHECK THE WEATHER
Water is basically your body’s personal thermostat. It helps your temperature remain normal, which is particularly crucial when you’re working out in warmer climates or hot environments. If you know you’re going to exercise in the heat, be extra diligent about drinking plenty of water—especially during the 24 hours leading up to your workout or event. Try throwing a bunch of water bottles in the freezer the night before, so you’re not stuck with lukewarm H2O in the heat of the moment.
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