Hydration Recommendations That Aren’t Stupid

I don’t know about the rest of you out there but, I train primarily in my garage. My uninsulated, un-air conditioned, 12×12 death box that has been more like crossing the precipice in to Hell than a home gym.

A picture I took on one of the cooler days this summer. At least the humidity wasn’t too bad.

Training in an environment similar to an active blast furnace really gets you thinking about hydration. Especially when you look down and see that you have sweated out a puddle on the ground that looks like more water than you have drank in a month. I remember reading a study one time that said over 85% of college athletes are in a mild state of dehydration all the time. These are some of the healthiest, strongest (supposedly) people on Earth. I am willing to bet, for the average population, that number is somewhere in the high 90’s.

A couple of tips that have helped me keep death at bay this summer:

1. Drink 1oz of water for every kilogram of body weight you have. 1 kilogram equals 2.2lbs. So, for a big fella like myself, I weigh 275lbs on average, that’s 125oz everyday. At first it will feel like you are choking down water but it gets much easier the more you stick with it. Eventually it will become routine. Just always have a bottle of water (or gallon in my case) and sip it all day long.

2. Don’t pee. The more you pee the less water you keep in your body. So, hold your pee all day… just kidding. Don’t actually do that. The reason you do pee a lot when you drink a lot of water is, the water gets sent to the filtering system of your body, which is the kidney’s. There, the water collects, basically turning your kidneys into water balloons. Your kidneys are not very big so they empty often. Hence, a pee pee happens. An easy way to cut down the frequency to which you go potty and also utilize the water you are chugging into your system is to add a little salt to your water. Salt helps retain water in your tissues. You don’t need to empty a shaker into your bottle of Fiji, just a pinch per every 8oz or a teaspoon for every 16oz should do the trick. A good guideline to follow is if your water tastes too salty… you probably put too much salt in it.

On a side note, you are basically spewing salts out of your body 24/7 during hot summer days. Salt is extremely important, not just for hydration. There is a relationship between sodium and potassium (which is also lost somewhat in sweat) that determines the efficiency of muscle contraction and also every message (action potential) sent and received by your nervous system. Take that low sodium foods.

3. Replenish after you workout. Weigh yourself before and after each workout. With every pound of sweat you lose, drink one pint of water. A pound of sweat weighs 16oz (or one pint). You’ve got to get that stuff back in there. This water loss is how you get dehydrated in the first place. Don’t count this in your total ounces for the day because this water is just meant to return you to normal hydration, not help keep you hydrated all day.

Try to limit stuff that dehydrates you. For example, anything that makes you pee more like coffee, tea, standing inside of a human sized dehydrator, whatever else there is out there. Don’t take them out of your life forever, just maybe cut them out until you rehydrate yourself or until it stops being a trillion degrees outside.

How do you treat dehydration?

He looks like he is having a good time. Just drink water…

Now that the general population is covered, on to some cool meathead stuff:

Dehydration and Muscle Contraction

Muscle contraction (like flexin’ your bi’s in the mirror while taking a cell phone future facebook profile picture, brah) occurs due to something called the Sliding Filament Theory. Basically all it says is, the flexing of a muscle happens because of thousands of tiny filaments (myosin and actin mainly) get pulled in towards each other, overlap, and develop tension in the rest of the muscle. In a hydrated muscle, there is plenty of space to move around (contract and slide) for these filaments. In a dehydrated muscle, the tissues basically collapse and shrink, decreasing the space the filaments have to move in. This causes three problems:

1. The amount of force a muscle can create has a lot to do with how far a muscle can contract (length tension relationship). With shriveled up, beef jerky muscles, the length the muscle can shorten (contract) is greatly reduced because of the decreased space the filaments have to slide over one another.

2. This limited space also cause these filaments to excessively rub against one another. This creates and unnatural friction force between normally easily sliding filaments. So, not only has the distance that the muscle can shorten (contract) decreased but, the time it takes the muscle to shorten to the decreased distance has increased due to friction. Basic physics (Work=force*Distance) tells us that this situation is much more stressful on the muscle (friction), increasing the amount of work that it has to do to perform tasks that would be much easier if hydrated (shortened contraction distance), thus, decreasing the amount force the muscle can exert.

3. Most importantly, when in a dehydrated state, the instance of significant trauma to the muscle GREATLY increases. In other words, if you don’t stay hydrated, you are going to tear all of your muscles off all of your bones.

The above recommendations aren’t the most scientific, I guess. I can tell you from personal experience that I haven’t died of heat stroke yet so something must be working. Drinking a lot of water sucks. That’s how you know it’s good for you. So start doing it and stop complaining about the heat. It’s hot for everyone.

Sprint. Kill. Eat. CHUG!!!!!!.


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