More than you probably realize
As a bodybuilder, water is the most vital nutrient you take. Simple as that. Not even protein or carbohydrates are as important to your short and long term success as a bodybuilder as water is. If you’re training hard you will need to drink roughly five liters a day or more, depending on various factors.
Why is water so important?
Without plenty of water, your body cannot function as it wants. Even mild dehydration (less water than is optimum) can seriously impact your body’s ability to function. Symptoms of dehydration include:
- Mild to excessive thirst
- Dry mouth
- Little or no urination
- Muscle weakness
As you can see the effects of even mild dehydration are quite dramatic. The effect on hypertrophy – muscle growth – is even worse: when dehydrated you will not grow, period. Shocking, isn’t it? Even if you’re eating lots of protein and carbs, tons of supplements and training often and well you simply won’t grow whilst you are dehydrated. Obvious now why drinking plenty of water is so vital to your bodybuilding success isn’t it?
How to ensure you’re properly hydrated
Unfortunately, thirst alone is not a good guide to tell if you are dehydrated or not. By the time you start to feel thirsty you will already be dehydrated. Far better to try and drink regularly throughout the day, and drink before, during and after exercise, especially weight training. The longer you train the more you’ll sweat so the more you will need to drink (approx 1 liter of water per hour, depending on how hard you are exercising).
You should aim to never feel thirsty, be urinating fairly frequently and not experiencing any of the above-listed symptoms of dehydration. If you spend most of the day in a hot environment you will need to factor this in and consume more fluids than normal.
Try not to consume too many diuretics, such as coffee, tea, and alcohol. These can tip you over into a dehydrated state and thus affect your growth rate.
Can you drink too much?
Though very rare it is possible to harm yourself by drinking too much water. If you exceed your kidney’s abilities to excrete excess water then your blood becomes diluted, which can result in hyponatremia, where you have lower than normal sodium levels in the blood. This is potentially life-threatening. In reality, you are highly unlikely to ever need to worry about how much you drink if you drink normally and not to excess (i.e. don’t try and drink 50 liters of water in an hour!).
Other sources of water
Of course, you don’t need to drink water exclusively to remain properly hydrated. Most food has some water in (indeed, things like cucumber and melon and virtually entirely water) and other things like fruit juice and milk also contain lots of water. This means that you can get quite a lot of your daily requirements through other things, reducing the amount of water you need to drink.
Don’t let simple dehydration ruin your bodybuilding for you. As a bodybuilder, you should be keenly aware that consuming lots of water are critical to your bodybuilding success. You should drink water regularly throughout the day, and before, during and after all exercise. Try to avoid feeling thirsty at all times. This will prevent your growth from being affected and result in you getting bigger, faster!