Dehydration = Decreased Performance

Summer is here and so is high temperature training. I personally love training in the summer months because the body tends to be warmer and looser. I find people tend to sustain less injuries in the summer. That being said, an important part of summer training is staying properly hydrated, something many people fail to do.

Water comprises of around 60 percent of your body weight. Every system in your body depends on it. Water is as important to your martial arts training as it is to maintaining your overall health.

Lack of water leads to dehydration. Even mild dehydration — as little as a 1-2% loss of your body weight — saps your energy and can keep you from performing your best during training and in your life altogether. It is a common cause of headaches, light-headedness and fatigue.

Drinking Water Helps You Perform Your Best

Here are several important ways drinking water helps your body perform better as a martial artist:

Protects Your Joints and Muscles. Water lubricates and cushions your joints and muscles, protecting them from shock and damage. When you’re dehydrated, your body becomes more susceptible to injuries. Drinking adequate amounts of water, before, during and after training, helps prevent muscle cramps and joint injuries.

Optimal Body Function. The body depends on water for survival. It is involved in every aspect of the body’s functions, from digestion and excretion, as well as absorption of nutrients. Water maintains your body temperature and removes toxins from your body. If you’re not getting enough water, your body doesn’t function at an optimal level. You’ll feel more tired and less focused during class.

Improved Metabolism. It’s well documented that staying well-hydrated makes it easier for your body to metabolize stored fat and therefore helps you lose weight.

How Much Water Should I Be Drinking?

• Drink 250-500 ml of water every morning.
• Keep a water bottle with you throughout the day, drinking at least 500-750 ml.
• Drink 250-500 ml of water 30 minutes before class.
• Drink another 250-500 ml over the course of class, having a few gulps every 15 minutes or so.
• When class is over, drink a further 250-500 ml.

This may sound like a lot, but it’s necessary to keep you hydrated. If you can’t drink that much water at once, take smaller amounts every 10 minutes. You shouldn’t wait until you’re thirsty to start drinking. If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.

These amounts vary depending on your body size, level of exertion during class and environmental temperature. Click here to use a generic water consumption calculator.

When training, a good rule of thumb is to drink 500 ml water for every pound you’ve lost. If you can, weigh yourself before and after class to find out how much you should drink.

Monitor your urine for signs of dehydration. The more yellow it is, the more dehydrated you are. It should be clear and colourless.

Some people prefer to drink sports drinks but, in truth, water hydrates better than any other drink. Sports drinks can be useful for replacing lost electrolytes and carbs, but it’s not really necessary unless you’re training at high intensity for over 90 minutes, or if your blood sugar gets low for whatever reason. For general consumption, if you prefer to drink sports drinks over water for taste, I recommend watering it down a little.

Don’t forget that drinking alcohol and caffeine (to excess) dehydrates you. Doing so can make you urinate and lose fluid quickly, so you’ll need an extra 250 ml for each cup of coffee, alcoholic or carbonated drink you have.

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