Most people you come across in the gym, know that they need to keep hydrated in order to stay energised.
But it can be easy to underestimate how much hydration can affect your workout. It doesn’t help that there are so many contradictory statistics about how much water we’re meant to drink each day, and how frequently.
Now the question is what are we supposed to believe?
Tranquillity 360 fitness thought it was time to set the record straight. Here’s our definitive guide on how you can stay hydrated before, during and after a workout.
Effects of dehydration on the body
You’d be forgiven for believing that only considerable dehydration can have a detrimental effect on exercise; we’re talking headaches, excessive perspiration and general aches.
But did you know that a mere 2% reduction in fluids can result in a 10-20% degradation in performance? That means your performance can be sapped even when you don’t feel dehydrated at all.
The tell-tale signs of dehydration are thirst and dark-coloured urine. It can also cause digestive issues and constipation, and can even make you feel hungrier, because a dehydrated brain confuses hunger and thirst. When you spot any of these symptoms, your body needs some water.
The amount of water you should drink per day depends on several variables, not least the level of activity you plan to undertake. For example, a marathon runner will obviously have different requirements to somebody who is doing a 30-minute weights session in the gym.
The weather can also make a big difference, too, since you’ll sweat a lot more in warmer conditions.
General guidelines suggest that you should drink at least 2 litres of water per day. You should increase this by 500ml per hour of intense training and increase this again if you tend to sweat a lot when you exercise.
How much water should You drink before exercising?
This is where a lot of people come unstuck. Most people are good at taking water to the gym with them for a mid-workout refreshment, but it’s even more important to make sure you’ve topped up your fluid levels prior to your session.
You're most dehydrated when you wake up, so start the day with a tall glass of water and avoid coffee if you can. Having drinks regularly throughout the day will make a huge difference in your energy levels by the time you’re ready to work out.
Getting enough water on board when you’re in full flow might be easier said than done, but it’s imperative that you don’t allow your levels to dip.
A short water break between sets or during quick breaks from cardio can help stave off exercise-induced dehydration, keeping you at your best for consistently high performance.
An easy way to ensure you get enough water is to set a timer -- on your phone or watch -- to go off every 15 minutes as a reminder to rehydrate. This is especially important if you’re doing exercise over a long period of time, such as training for a marathon.
What should you drink during a workout?
Not that we were expecting you to have a gin and slimline tonic on-the-go between each set of assisted pull-ups, but nevertheless, it’s worth reiterating that plain old water is the most suitable drink to have on hand during your workout.
Of course, it all depends on the length and intensity of your workout.
Electrolytes are minerals that, amongst other things, regulate the level of water in your body. A regular gym session probably doesn't require a fancy sports drink but long-distance runners or those who train with great intensity would do well to replenish their electrolytes.
What to eat and drink after a workout
While many of us fail to take hydration into account before our workouts, even more of us let ourselves down after an exercise session.
Drinking 50% more fluid than you lost through sweat will help to boost your recovery. The fastest way to recover is sipping small amounts of water regularly, rather than guzzling down litre after litre in one go.
You should also ensure that 20% of your water intake comes from solid foods. Opting for foods that are naturally high in water content -- like cucumbers, tomatoes and celery -- can help you recover more quickly post-workout.
4 ways to spot dehydration during your workout
As we’ve already alluded to, our bodies can play tricks on us when our fluid levels start to drop. We have four tips to help you recognise the effects of dehydration before it starts to become a problem.
1. Check your muscles
Muscle cramps are a giveaway that you’re not hydrated enough. If you start to feel cramp coming on, take a break to have a drink. Don’t guzzle it down; instead, opt for short, small sips over a few minutes.
Once you’re refueled, ease yourself back into your exercise, being careful not to overdo it: it can take a while for your muscles to fully rehydrate.
2. Don’t ignore a dry mouth
One of the first signs of dehydration is dry mouth. As soon as your mouth starts feeling a little dusty, get a drink. Ignoring dry mouth can seriously impact your performance.
3. Pinch yourself
Skin elasticity, which is the skin’s ability to change shape and return to normal, is a giveaway of your hydration levels (though it’s not 100% reliable for everyone). Gently pinch the skin on the back of your hand and hold for a few seconds. If the skin takes a while to return to its normal position when you let go, you may be dehydrated.
4. Stop if you feel dizzy
Feeling lightheaded during a workout is a sign of dehydration and a signal to take your workout down a notch.
Though willpower sometimes makes us want to push ourselves through a few more reps or another mile, feeling dizzy is an indicator that your brain isn’t getting the oxygen it needs. You should stop exercising the moment you feel dizzy; powering through a dizziness spell can be dangerous.
The shoulder is the body's most complicated joint. It's where the ends of the collarbone, upper arm bone, and shoulder blade meet. And it's prone to arthritis (a wearing away of the cartilage between the bones), as well as tears or tendinitis (inflammation) in the rotator cuff — the group of tendons that helps you raise and rotate your arm. Shoulder pain can keep you from being able to raise your arms to get dressed or reach up to a cupboard or out to a door.
But an easy way to stave off shoulder problems is to regularly stretch the muscles that support the joints. "The muscles need to be long and flexible to stay healthy. You're more vulnerable to injury when your shoulder muscles are tight and restricted," explains Clare Safran-Norton, clinical supervisor of rehabilitation services at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital.
How stretching helps
Muscles are a little like cotton fabrics. They may shrink up slightly, but if you pull on the fibers, you can stretch out the fabric again.
Stretching your muscles fixes the shortening that occurs with disuse and extends muscles to their full length. The more you stretch the muscles, the longer and more flexible they'll become. That will help increase your range of motion, ward off pain, reduce the risk for injury, and improve your posture.
Types of stretches
The best way to stretch muscles is with long, static (motionless) stretches that last 30 seconds to two minutes. But don't jump right to this step.
Warm up the muscles first to get blood and oxygen to them and make them more pliable. You can do this with exercise (take a brisk walk, pumping your arms, or go for a swim). Or you can try a few minutes of dynamic stretching — repeatedly moving a joint through its available range of motion, without holding a position. Just roll your shoulders backward and forward a few times or make windmill motions with your arms (but not too vigorously).
Safran-Norton says that stretches should be gentle and pain-free. "If there's pain, you may be injuring your muscles," she notes.
She also warns never to bounce your stretched muscles, which can cause injury and keep you from a productive stretch. "Bouncing sets off a protective mechanism called the stretch reflex. The muscle will recoil so you won't overstretch it. But as a result, you'll never get to a true stretch," she says. "A true stretch is sustained, with no bouncing."
Try the shoulder stretches we've laid out here. All you need is a doorway or wall.
Safran-Norton recommends stretching your shoulders three to seven times per week. "If you're stiff, stretch daily. If you're already flexible, it's fine to stretch every other day," she says. But avoid stretching for too long or too vigorously: back off quickly if you start to feel pain.
Other tips: make sure you stand up straight when you stretch, and make sure you're hydrated.
Movement: Stand up straight facing a wall. Extend your right arm with your elbow soft (not locked) and place your hand on the wall at shoulder height. Slowly walk your fingers upward, stepping in toward the wall as your hand climbs higher. Stop when you feel mild tension in your shoulder. Hold 10 to 30 seconds. Slowly walk your fingers back down the wall and return to the starting position. Repeat three to four times. Switch arms and repeat.
Chest and shoulder stretch
Movement: Stand alongside a doorway or wall. Extend your right arm and put your right hand on the edge of the door frame slightly below shoulder level, palm facing forward and touching the door frame. Keep your shoulders down and back. Slowly turn your body to the left, away from the door frame, until you feel the stretch in your chest and shoulder. Hold 10 to 30 seconds. Return to the starting position. Repeat three to four times, then repeat on the opposite side.
Movement: Stand up straight with your feet hip-width apart and your hands by your sides. Place the back of your right hand against the small of your back at your waist. Your fingers should be pointing up. Slowly slide your right hand farther up your back as high as you can. Hold 10 to 30 seconds. Repeat three to four times, then repeat with left hand.
If you are trying to loose weight by cutting back on calories , chance are you are losing muscle too, what if I tell you that you can loose weight without losing muscle, yes its possible with strength training in fact recent research from The Journal of sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, show’s that on average, 27% of the weight lost by dieting is muscle.
Those who combined dieting with cardio exercise cut muscle loss in half. But when participants combined dieting and resistance training (strength training), all the pounds lost were fat. What’s more, the more muscle you have and the stronger your muscles are—the more benefits you’ll get beyond weight loss.
You’ll develop a slimmer, firmer figure and have the energy to be more active. And, you’ll get more from cardio workouts because you’ll be able to go faster and last longer.
One of the best ways to stay fit and healthy as you age is by doing strength and power training exercises. You may know that starting in our thirties, we all begin to lose muscle mass. This loss contributes to achy joints, increased risk of injury, and the “middle-age spread” we all dread. What’s more, the older we get, the faster muscle mass disappears.
That means that eventually, simple tasks like getting out of a chair and climbing stairs can become more difficult.
Strength training can help you build muscle, make you strong, increase your endurance and make everyday activities easier.
By combining strength and power training exercises you’ll not only get stronger, you’ll build speed and improve your reaction time. That’s critical as you age, because it can help prevent falls.
Tranquillity 360 Fitness Trainer Malachi have come with a quick and simple total body, kettle bell strength workout you can do to aid weight lost without losing muscle.
Kettlebell Workout Circuits:
· 8 Halos (each side)
· 10 Goblet Squats
· 8 Overhead Presses (each side)
· 15 Kettlebell Swings
· 8 Bent Over Rows (each side)
· 6 Front Rack Reverse Lunge (per side)
Repeat process 3 times, rest the following then picked up back the following day, so 1 day off 1 day on, ensure you do proper warm up and cool down stretches.
This blog is updated by Tranquillity 360 fitness personal trainers, as well as other guest bloggers.