Principles of Progress No. 2 - Water
Water. Two-thirds of the planet is covered in the stuff. It’s everywhere – plants, animals, oceans, lakes, rivers, diet coke – no wonder it’s considered essential to our lives.
The nerds over at the Mayo Clinic (www.mayoclinic.com) tells us that about 60 percent of our body weight is made up of water. Without it, our body would be overrun by waste products, our cells and organs would shut down and we would, for all intents and purposes, be screwed. It’s pretty damn important.
Yet it is one of the most ignored components of any fitness regime, only trumped by rest (see http://uscombatsports.com/200912121181/uscs-fitness/uscs-strength-and-conditioning-for-combat-sports-vol-12-principles-of-progress-no-1-sleep.html for more info on that). Insufficient hydration has a huge impact on performance, impeding recovery, reducing energy levels and increasing irritability, even in its most mild form.Dan John (strength coach extraordinaire) is famous for saying “water is the best anabolic.” If your goals include hypertrophy, increased strength, weight loss, decreased body fat or even just general wellness, you need to drink water. Lots of it. It is an essential key to bodily function and increased performance.
There is a debate in the scientific community as to the volume of water a normal person needs: the traditional guideline was 8 by 8, or eight 8-ounce glasses (or approximately 2 liters) of water a day. Some camps say this is actually a gross over-estimation and can lead to lowered electrolyte levels in the body (due to dilution) and that the body needs more like three 8oz glasses of water per day. Back over at the Mayo Clinic, though, it is suggested that we lose almost a liter of water through normal bodily functions (like breathing, sweating, etc), in addition to the 1.5 liters urinated out over the course of the day. That adds up to two and a half liters in a day – more than the 2 liters taken in by the 8x8 rule.
Add to that extra fluid lost through sweat in exercise, and you’ve got a definite need for increased water intake. An extra 8oz glass will do the trick, though consider adding more if you sweat profusely or engage in protracted training sessions. All food and beverages contain a certain amount of water, and assist in hydration, though water should still be the primary source of re-hydration. Coffee, sports drinks and sodas do contribute, though the addition of sweeteners and stimulants can have a dehydrating effect on the body.
How can you use water to maximize your gains?
- Be prepared: carry a water bottle with you and drink throughout the day – don’t try to drink all your water in one sitting.
- Remember your diet: water is a great complement to a healthy diet.
- Drink a glass with each meal and one after, to promote satiety (fullness).
- Drink water during your workout: it’ll help keep your energy levels up and keep you from crashing post-workout. Plus it’s a built-in rest time.
And yeah, you’ll pee more at first, but your body will adjust. Remember that your body adapts, for good or bad. Your performance will increase and your body will utilize the additional water for recovery, protein uptake and all that good stuff you want to happen.
Tyler Welch is the Strength & Conditioning Coach at Neutral Ground Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He is also the founder of Second Nature Fitness, an active Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitor, and a whole lot of other stuff that means he paid a bunch of people to teach him things about fitness. Follow him at www.twitter.com/secondnaturefit, www.myspace.com/secondnaturefitness, Facebook and www.secondnaturefitness.org
See a list of previous USCS Strength & Conditioning articles here.