Why You Need to Hydrate for Optimum Workouts

by Jay | Updated on October 22nd, 2022

During exercise, hydration levels diminish; this can impact workouts

During exercise, it is important to pay attention to your hydration level. A well-hydrated athlete improves his chances of not only winning but also reduces his risk for injury.

  • Water makes up approximately 70% of the body’s composition.
  • Water transports nutrients and gases.
  • Water helps to remove waste and toxins from the body.
  • Water helps to regulate the body’s temperature.

Some signs that you could be dehydrated include- muscular cramps, dizziness, nausea, headaches, fatigue, and lethargy. A good way to prevent dehydration is to focus on fluid intake throughout the day.

man holding dumbbells

The Right Balance of Certain Liquids is Vital to Improved Condition

Considering the human body has a liquid content which is some 60 percent of overall weight, athletes such as bodybuilders — where the appearance of the physique can be significantly affected by the degree of water content and moisture — have probably the greatest reasons of all to pay attention to liquids and their benefits.

Of course, it’s not only the final point of stepping onto a contest stage when a bodybuilding athlete needs to be concerned about liquids, their effects, and benefit but the entire period of training preparation leading up to that moment.

How the Body Loses Water – and How to Prevent It

Nowadays, athletes can choose a wide range of liquid supplements, post-workout drinks, and plentiful bottled water. However, the decision between relying on water or having a daily sports drink should depend on the intensity, frequency, and duration of their gym workout, along with their individual needs from the mineral and other nutritional benefits a sports drink can provide.

Water is, in general, sufficient to replace fluids lost during low-to-moderately intense exercise that lasts less than an hour. However, for longer and more intense exercise, the intake of sports drinks is more effective for rehydration and replenishing carbohydrates as the body’s muscle, and liver glycogen supply begins to decrease.

Sports drinks are geared to a variety of training situations. Those made with simple carbohydrates- the most common- are easy for the body to burn for energy during a workout.

However, because longer and more intense training can lead to electrolyte imbalances, sports drinks with electrolyte content can help prevent this in the appropriate quantities, which water alone cannot provide.

Competitive bodybuilders are in this second category. Notes massive young amateur heavyweight Rich Legislador, who won his class and overall at the NPC Western Regional Championships in 2006: “I live and train in a dry and desert environment. Remaining constantly aware of my liquid intake is important to my overall condition and progress.”

Rich is typical of rising amateur heavyweights who can lose a large amount of body moisture because they live and train in an extremely dry climate.

Their solution: a ready supply of both pure bottled water for those hours of the day when they are not working out and then switching to liquid replacement drinks after workouts. A meal in liquid supplement form is also useful for speeding absorption into the digestive system before or after a training session.


To prevent dehydration

  • drink 8-16 ozs. of water each morning upon waking up,
  • take sips of water throughout the day,
  • you may consider drinking low-calorie, low-sugar drinks but avoid alcohol or caffeinated drinks such as coffee and sodas; they are diuretics that can cause dehydration.


  • Two hours before exercise, drink 8 to 16 ounces of water.
  • According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), a good rule of thumb is to drink 20-40 ounces per hour of a cool, non-carbonated beverage; this equates to ½ to one cup of fluid for every 15 minutes of exercise. A helpful hint: an ounce equals approximately one “gulp.”
  • Research shows that flavored fluids, lightly sweetened, and some sodium help stimulate voluntary drinking, more so than water alone.
  • Besides enhancing flavor, using carbohydrates as the sweetening agent can also help active persons maintain their physical performance.

Activities Under 90 Minutes

Drinking water is best when participating in any activity lasting 90 minutes or less. According to Wong, “Water is the best. Sports drinks are worthless if you’re not working hard or perspiring enough. It will be extra calories if you don’t need a sports drink.”

To ensure hydration:

  • Drink at least 8 to 16 ounces of water one to two hours before activity, but drink the last 8 ounces about twenty minutes before exercise.
  • During exercise, sip 4 to 6 ounces of water every 15 minutes.
  • Upon completion, enjoy another 8 to 16 ounces.

It’s important not to consume massive amounts of water all at once during or immediately after exercise. This is because blood flow to the stomach is diverted to the muscles during exercise, which slows digestion.

It takes about 30 minutes after exercise has stopped for normal digestion to resume. Consuming too much water all at once can lead to a “water-logged” feel, water sloshing around in the stomach, nausea, and vomiting.

Extreme Conditions and Activities Over 90 Minutes

After 90 minutes of exercise, or 30 minutes of exercise or activity in extreme conditions, the body begins to lose electrolytes, which must be replaced. Electrolyte replacement is extremely important to endurance athletes, like marathoners, who are at risk of hyponatremia or “over hydrating.”

Hyponatremia can occur when an athlete drinks too much water, which fails to replace lost sodium and causes sodium levels to drop dangerously low.

The best way to avoid hyponatremia and dehydration during prolonged exercise is to increase salt intake and consume sports drinks containing electrolytes like sodium and potassium and carbohydrates that refuel muscles.

For maximum hydration:

  • Drink water for the first 90 minutes of activity, switch to a sports drink, or switch to a sports drink after 30 minutes of exercising in extreme heat or cold.
  • Weigh yourself before and after exercise, then consume 6 ounces of fluid every 15 minutes until your weight has returned to normal.
  • Drink 8 to 10 ounces of a sports drink every two hours. Frequent sipping will help prevent an upset stomach and maximize electrolyte absorption.
  • Between servings, drink water. Dentists recommend rinsing your mouth after drinking a sports drink to help prevent the sugar and acid from causing dental cavities.
  • Snack on salty foods.

What to drink

  • After exercise, drink 16 ounces of fluid for each pound lost.
  • Drink even when you don’t feel thirsty because you have already begun to dehydrate by the time you feel thirsty. Once you begin to dehydrate, your performance will begin to suffer.
  • Attentive hydration will greatly benefit your recovery time and consequent workouts.
  • Research indicates that physically active individuals should drink 10 to 12 cups daily.
  • Some people can lose as much as 5 quarts of fluid per day, while others may require up to 10 quarts.

More Tips

  • Try to drink some fluid every ½ hour to hour throughout the day, not just when thirsty.
  • Don’t wait until you get thirsty; when you feel thirsty, you’ve already lost important fluids & electrolytes and may be dehydrated.
  • Drink fluids before, during & after exercise.
  • Always have a bottle of water or sports drink with you when working out to ensure proper hydration.
  • Check your urine to determine hydration status; clear to light-colored urine means you’re well hydrated.

“The people who say they don’t have time to take care of themselves will soon discover they’re spending all their time being sick.” -Patricia Alexander-


Jay is a health and wellness enthusiast with expertise in water quality and nutrition. As a knowledgeable advocate for holistic well-being, Jay successfully manages Type 2 Diabetes through informed lifestyle choices. Committed to sharing reliable and authoritative insights, Jay combines firsthand experience with a passion for enhancing health."