Why Strong Athletes Need Water
We all know how important water is for our basic survival. However, as athletes, water is simply vital if we want to achieve optimal performance. Here are 5 important reasons why you should never neglect the importance of water as an athlete:
As a strong athlete, this is the reason you are most concerned about, and for good reason. When you don’t drink enough water and start to dehydrate, your blood pressure decreases, which decreases your cardiac output, or the amount of blood your heart is able to pump from each ventricle. Believe me, you don’t want to experience this in the last few seconds of a race or during the fourth quarter/period of a big game. Secondly, dehydration causes your core temperature to rise, which increases your perceived exertion, meaning you feel fatigued faster. Not a good situation.
For those of you involved in power sports, which is the majority of us (after all this is www.strong-athlete.com.) this is a big one. When you lose as little as 1.5 -2% (3-4 lbs for a 200lb athlete) of your bodyweight in water from dehydration, your strength levels can plummet. Dehydration can also negatively impact proper function of hormones, some of which play a key role in strength development.
Optimal water intake can dramatically improve recovery from training. When you are properly hydrated, your body has an easier time regulating your body temperature. The body can deliver nutrients more easily to areas that need it most, such as your muscles. Your body can also remove metabolic waste by-products caused from intense training.
Another reason you should always be properly hydrated is for optimal flexibility. Physical therapists and stretching experts have observed that when a muscle is properly hydrated, the fascia glides over it easily. Fascia is the tough connective tissue that wraps as an outer layer around the muscle. When the muscle is dehydrated, the fascia is much more difficult to move, which can negatively impact flexibility. If you want to move optimally, and as an athlete you obviously should, stay hydrated.
This is really the most important reason by far. Your bodies are composed of about two-thirds water. You can’t last more than a few days without drinking water. It is simply essential to so many metabolic functions in the human body. For optimal health and as a starting point, I recommend drinking at least 3-4 liters (100-135 oz) of water every day. On training days, aim to consume at least 1.5 liters (about 50 oz) before, during and after your session, sometimes more if you are outside on a very hot day.