Q: How much water should I drink when I work out, and how much should I drink when I’m out of the gym?
A: Adequate water intake is critical for your health and for your training performance. If you get dehydrated during a workout, your training intensity will suffer.
If you train when it’s hot, without air-conditioning, you’ll need a lot more water during your workouts than if you’re working out in a cold gym without the heat on.
Avoid getting thirsty in general, including when you train. Have a drink of water after each exercise at the very least. If you’re sweating profusely, you may need a drink of water after every set in order to keep yourself from getting thirsty.
How much water you need for “sufficient” hydration when you’re out of the gym depends on how much water loss you have to recover and how much liquid you take other than pure water. If, for example, there’s a heat wave and you’re sweating a lot all the time, you don’t include much juicy fruit in your diet, and you don’t drink much other than water, you would need a lot more than eight glasses of water a day—perhaps more than eight pints. If, however, you don’t sweat other than when you train, you eat several pieces of juicy fruit each day, and you have several mugs of other drinks, you won’t need much water to keep yourself from getting thirsty.
Even so, you want to drink more water each day than the basic requirement. Drink enough over the course of each day to produce at least four clear urinations (in addition to colored urinations). Until you produce the minimum of four clear urinations a day, gradually increase your intake of water. It will vary from day to day if there are big temperature changes, and you’ll need more water on a training day than on days when you don’t train.
Get a water filter if your tap water doesn’t have a pleasant taste, or find bottled water that tastes good.
Keep a bottle of water handy, and have a few mouthfuls every 15 to 30 minutes—more often if it’s hot or you’re exercising. Large but infrequent drinks of water increase urination but don’t necessarily produce adequate hydration. Little and often is a better strategy for water consumption.
Editor’s note: Stuart McRobert’s first byline in IRON MAN appeared in 1981. He’s the author of the new BRAWN series, Book 1: How to Build Up to 50 Pounds of Muscle the Natural Way, available from Home Gym Warehouse, (800) 447-0008 or www