Often overlooked, water is an essential nutrient and vital for life as it serves many functions :
Water is lost daily from breathing, urine, stool, skin evaporation, climate changes, high altitudes, and muscular contraction during exercise. It it vital that our intake of water is greater than our output, but often difficult to do in a 1:1 ratio. We believe our bodies are the master regulator, and we advise all athletes to drink to their thirst.
So what's going on with water in our skeletal muscles? When we exercise, our heart rate increases as a function of an increased demand for fuel and oxygen. The more we demand from our body, the faster our muscles send signals to demand a quick supply of blood. But if you don't drink enough water, this process becomes less efficient. We also sweat during exercise and the body is losing sodium. (Learn more about the roles of sodium here) If the cells are not adequately hydrated, the cell will shrink and this can result in accelerated fatigue, muscle pain, spasms, cramps and slowed muscle growth.
Additionally water plays a role in both muscle repair and as mentioned above, muscle growth. Now this may sound counter intuitive, but to build muscle, we first must break it. When we exercise, particularly when exercise is intense, we experience many micro-tears and localized inflammation. This is completely normal as the breakage serves as the driving factor our muscles use to signal processes inside our bodies to stimulate muscle re-growth and repair. The end result is often soreness, but also increased strength! Water is necessary for protein synthesis; if you are lacking water your body may break down muscle tissue which will slow down your performance progress and in turn, make your muscles weaker.
How much water will you drink today!?! Drink more!