How Dehydration Affects Performance
How Dehydration Affects Performance

How Dehydration Affects Performance

As you go about your intense training sessions, one thing you are very likely looking at is your pre and post training meals. You want to make sure that you’re giving your body precisely what it needs to recover and come back stronger than ever at the next session that you do. But, are you overlooking another critical element in the game? Many athletes aren’t giving nearly as much consideration to what they’re drinking in and around exercise.

But they should.

The impacts of dehydration on performance are significant and this could be one factor that separates good performance from peak performance.

Let’s look at how dehydration will impact you so that you can get straight how important this is.

Muscular Endurance

The very first manner in which dehydration impacts you is with your muscular endurance. Basically, you are going to be faster to fatigue than you otherwise would, so your workout could be cut short.

Fluid losses equal to just 1-2% of your total body weight will negatively impact your performance, found a study published in the Medicine and Science of Sports and Exercise.

The primary reason this tends to occur is because the maximum pumping capacity of the heart that can be achieved during exercise will decrease, which then decreases overall work capacity.

In addition to that, the decrease in plasma volume will mean that there is a lower blood pressure and blood is thicker, which can also induce feelings of fatigue.

Muscular Strength

Moving along, don’t think that if you aren’t an endurance athlete you’re protected from these harmful effects of dehydration. That is not the case at all.

In addition to seeing declines in endurance, you’ll also see declines in strength output as well.

When around 3% of total body weight in dehydration occurs, this can result in strength losses of up to 5%, showing a greater magnitude than the dehydration itself.

Therefore, this is going to be very problematic for those who are participating in power or weight lifting activities. This again is going to be due to decreased reduction in blood flow and blood pressure along with an increase in core temperature.

One additional point to know here is that dehydration can also increase the rate of glycogen use by the muscle tissues, and since during power based activities muscle glycogen is the primary fuel being utilized, this will have a significant influence on your ability to generate force over time.

Focus And Concentration

Finally, dehydration can also influence your ability to focus and concentration on the workout at hand while pushing through to give maximum effort.

If you don’t have the mental tenacity that you need to pursue intense exercise due to dehydration, you won’t be contracting at the muscle force that you could be, thus you will be weaker overall.

Maintaining a strong level of concentration is imperative for peak performance and dehydration will prevent you from doing so.

Some athletes may also find they start experiencing headaches during intense exercise as well and some may even become light-headed or dizzy if blood pressure gets too low.

This could then go on to impact balance, making it harder to perform the exercise in question.

So there you have the main areas that dehydration will influence your performance. To maintain adequate hydration, make sure to consume 8-16 oz. of fluid (preferably water) in the two hours prior to exercise and then consume another 8 oz. of fluid – water or an electrolyte replacement drink if exercising for 60 minutes or longer every 15 minutes of intense exercise or 30 minutes of moderate training. We recommend that you use Gnarly Boost.

Then after exercise, make sure you replenish the lost fluids, by again drinking another 8-16 oz. of water or fluid. One good way to see whether you have replenished your lost fluid is to weigh yourself before your training and then again 20 minutes after to see if your weight has stabilized at the same.

If you do this, you can rest assured you are keeping yourself well hydrated.

Armstrong, LE. (1985). Influence of diuretic-induced dehydration on competitive running performance. Medicine and Science in Sports And Exercise. 17(4):456-61.

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