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I wanted to pick up my clients water bottle and throw it against the wall.

Maybe I watched too much pro-wrestling as a young child. Maybe I was hit by an Aquafina truck as a young child and have repressed the memory.

I believe my my desire to go postal on their Nalgene bottle is not because I am a violent person – it just worries me what people don’t know about their own physical chemistry.

I truly believe when people come into the gym they are coming to give their best effort possible. I believe that if people want to perform at their best, then they need to make sure they remove all barriers to that effort. I also believe it is my job to help them understand that.

Let me explain why I wanted to go hulkamania on my clients H20.

One of my personal training clients was feeling sick during workouts. His diet checked out, his lifestyle factors were all in line but he was under performing to where he could be and I was not happy with his progress compared to the results he had shown a couple of months before. I believed he was working hard, but something had changed…

When pressed for an answer, he explained that he had recently begun drinking a big cold bottle of water in one swig before each workout. Because I always ask my clients if they have been drinking water and he figured this way he could say ‘yep’ and we would be good to go.

Some clients answer the water consumption question in more creative ways. One of my clients likes to respond in this manner:

Me: “have you been drinking your water?”

Client: “ahh, not as much as I should be (awkward silence)”

Me: “how much is that?”

Client: “Ahh…. none at all”

Me: “Grrraaarrrr!! Jamie Mad!!! Jamie Smash!!!”

Rather than chug a cold bottle of water before each workout, my client would be better off not drinking water at all.

When I told him that he may have to reduce the intensity of his workout today as a result of his water binging, he asked another question I hear from time to time:

Why do I even need water?

I don’t know much about cars, but I remember talking with a mechanic one day after a particularly expensive maintenance bill and asking “why do I even need oil in my car”?

After rolling his eyes and hiding his smile with a greasy rag he gave me the following analogy in zen-like fashion:

“the oil in your car is like the blood in your veins – if you have a smoothly moving oil system then all the pieces work smoothly – it is when your car doesnt have enough oil or if the oil isnt clean and smooth, then you cant get the oil. It doesnt matter how good your spark plugs are or if you have the best fuel mix in the world in that thing – you have to have the oil – it is an essential part of the cars chemistry”.

Your water intake is the same as the oil in your car (blood by the way, is 83% water).

Ye old fashioned water bottle

It doesn’t matter how strong your muscles are – water needs to get to the muscles and the body in order for the chemical reactions to happen that allow everything else to happen.

The final word on how much water to drink:

The rules vary and there are different levels of controversy, but I don’t buy the whole “careful you might drown yourself by drinking too much water” argument. Not for a second.

NB Special exception to the above: Unless you are doing a marathon where Hyponatremia becomes a very real risk or something else that has you exercising for 3-4 hours..if you are someone who has better things to do than run a la Forrest Gump, then keep on reading.

Here’s a thought for you. If my body doesnt get enough water, I am not able to complete the chemical reactions to break down fat. If I get too much water then all i need to do is add more electrolytes (which I get from salt, which most of us get too much of anyway).

However, the number of things that can negatively affect our health from not drinking enough water far outweigh the risk of our organs being taxed by overconsumption of water.

So you can bitch about the risks of drinking too much water while ignoring the massive list of benefits on the other side of the column if you want to. I could alternatively cover my ears when someone is arguing with me and say repeatedly ‘I-cant-hear-you-I-cant-hear-you-I-cant-hear-you”.

Lets put it another way – the NASN (a nutrition resource) recommends about a gallon a day for people that don’t exercise.

Hydration is no laughing matter – especially for Mermaids and Darryl Hannah.

If you exercise, you need more water. Do you drink that much (about 128 ounces a day)? No? Didn’t think so. Don’t feel bad though – most people don’t – mind you, most people are obese and think that ketchup counts as a vegetable.

Here’s 3 rules for drinking water in relation to an optimal workout:

Drink room temperature water:

Just like how cold water makes things shrink (I was in the pool!) it also can constrict the stomach lining – if you are post workout you probably have a large amount of water sitting in your belly wanting to get out, but cannot because everything has shrunk up from the impact of the cold water. To make sure you give your stomach the best chance to process the water and get it where it needs to be, drink it at room temperature every chance you get.

Know your enemy

Every time you see someone holding a bottle of water with ice cubes in it I want you to slap it out of their hand and say “why?! Why would you do that to yourself?!”.

Everything in moderation:

While it is advisable to drink water pre, during and post workout, it is also important to drink it in moderate amounts – that is, your body will be able to absorb and make use of water much better if it is drunk intermittently as opposed to having a chugging contest with your workout partner.

Hydration breaks are important for any workout.

Dilute the gatorade:

It is a little-known fact that the Gatorade that professional athletes use is about 1/3 the concentration that you can buy in 7-11. By adding a bit of carb to the water (and just a bit) you can improve the bodies ability to absorb water.

If your body is not processing the water (and thus giving you these stomach cramps) then by diluting some Gatorade you will help move things through more efficiently. Remember that a full solution of Gatorade that is cold is pretty much defeating the purpose – it must be room temperature and it must be diluted for your body to best absorb the water.

So put away the ice water and get yourself a room temperature bottle of water with a splash of Gatorade (or a twist of lemon for a bit of gourmet flair).

Of course, nothing beats a cold drink on a hot day – but if you are looking to work as hard as possible and give the body the essential nutrients it needs to burn that fat, run that engine and keep those joints moving smoothly then get the H20 into you as often as you can before, during and after the workout.

Yours in hydration,

Jamie Atlas

Elephants drink over 80 gallons of water a day! Thats a lot of Evian!

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  • […] Your water intake may be ruining your workout […]

  • Rocco Castellano Jul 7, 2008 Reply

    Your first mistake was believing that most people want to give their best effort when coming to the gym. If that were true than everyone at the gym would be in the best shape of their life and you wouldn’t have people running on treadmills everyday for 2 years and still looking the same as the first day they walked in. I love your optimism.

    At least your thinking about slamming Nalgene bottles and not your clients heads…like I used to.

  • Kalyn Oct 21, 2008 Reply

    What exactly is water binging?

  • jamieatlas Oct 21, 2008 Reply

    Hi Kalyn! Thanks for the post -by ‘water binging’ I mean chugging a big ol’ bottle of water real fast (much like college frat guys do with a different kind of liquid every weekend).

    Hey Rocco – you are right, I might have a tad too much optimism… But I gotta dream, right?! 🙂

  • Jovaughn Lance Apr 15, 2010 Reply

    Awesome write up on every point.

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