Get Hydrated

drink plenty of water
Taking in an adequate amount of water every day is critical not just for overall health, but for muscle size and strength as well. Here are the facts that prove it.

Regardless of how much you know or don't know about nutrition, it's likely that you know the cardinal rule about water: That you need a lot of it! Our bodies are about 60%-70% water, depending on the individual, and water is critical for numerous processes in the body. Plus, it keeps the muscles full and large by filling the cells; that's what we call cell volumization. In fact, research shows that not drinking enough water can decrease muscle strength and muscle growth. Do I have your attention yet?

One study performed at Old Dominion University tested the one-rep max on the bench press of weight-trained men while they were either normally hydrated or while slightly dehydrated. The researchers reported that when the men were dehydrated, their one-rep max was significantly less than when they were normally hydrated. They also discovered that the leaner the subjects were, the more that dehydration negatively affected their strength.

Since those who train are typically much leaner than the average Joe, this should concern you (I'm assuming most anyone reading this trains regularly), especially when you're in a "get-lean" phase.

Tested and Approved

Another study, this one from the University of Connecticut (UCONN), tested the number of reps weight-trained men could complete during a squat workout that consisted of six sets of squats using 80% of their one-rep maxes (a weight they could complete for about eight reps) in two different states of hydration: normally hydrated and slightly dehydrated.

The UCONN team found that when the men were slightly dehydrated, they weren't able to complete as many reps on a majority of the six sets as compared to when they were normally hydrated. Similarly, a study by Chicago State University researchers also found that when subjects were slightly dehydrated, they had less leg and arm power (about 15%-20% less) than when they were normally hydrated.

If less strength and power aren't enough to persuade you to drink more water, then how about testosterone levels? A second study by UCONN researchers measured a group of men's testosterone and cortisol levels after a squat workout while being normally hydrated or slightly dehydrated. They reported that being dehydrated significantly dropped their testosterone levels while simultaneously boosting their levels of the catbolic hormone cortisol after the workout.

Having less strength, power and endurance, not to mention lower testosterone and higher cortisol levels, should really have you alarmed. This is especially true when you consider that many of the studies found that subjects were weaker when their drop in body water was as little as 1.5% of their body weight (that's only three pounds for a 200-pound guy). Your body can easily drop three pounds of water in just a few hours, depending on how much you're sweating and how much you're drinking. This could drop your strength, power, endurance and ability to recover and grow after workouts.

Recommendation:

To avoid even slight dehydration (and therefore the loss of muscle strength and size), be sure you're drinking an adequate amount of fluids each day. I recommend that you drink one gallon (128 ounces) of water daily. This also happens to be the water recommendation set by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) for most men.

On days you train, especially when it's hot, you should shoot for even more water – I say 1.5 gallons on these days. But remember, that fluid doesn't have to come just from pure water. The water you get in tea, coffee and other drinks also counts.

And don't forget to include the water you use for your Pro JYM shakes as well as Pre JYM and Post JYM. You should also shoot for a good 20-30 ounces (almost 1 liter) of water before you train to make sure you're properly hydrated for your workout. And of course, continue drinking during your workout and after. Shoot for another 20-35 ounces after training.

 

References:

Jones, L. C., et al. Active dehydration impairs upper and lower body anaerobic muscular power. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Resarch, 2008 Mar;22(2):455-463.

Judelson DA,Effect of hydration state on resistance exercise-induced endocrine markers of anabolism, catabolism, and metabolism. J Appl Physiol. 2008 Sep;105(3):816-24.

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