The key to optimal performance is mastering and maintaing the fundamentals daily.
Most athletes obsess over programming minutia and training equipment. They invest endlessly into supplement products and specialized recovery methods. There’s no shortage of effort here, but unfortunately, it’s all put behind secondary priorities.
Before you can be a great athlete, you have to be a fully operational and optimized human being. That starts with sleep. If you’re not getting around 8 hours of quality sleep every night, plus an hour for every hard training session, give or take, then you’re just not going to be able to recover and stay healthy over the long-term.
There’s no point in training hard if you don’t sleep. None of that secondary stuff will matter. The very same thing is true for hydration.
Water makes your body work right, keeping your giant meat tube of a body from becoming something more like stiff jerky. It’s essential for your skin, internal organs, muscle tissue, hormone function, joint health, sexual function, or your mood. Have you ever struggled with your appetite? Are you a “hard-gainer”? That might be the result of poor hydration habits, nothing more.
You have to make sure you are drinking enough water throughout the day. But exactly how much should you drink? A suitable estimate is about a gallon a day for active dudes, and about 3/4 of a gallon for ladies. But an exact number will depend on your activity level, climate, your preferences, etc.
Here are two easy rules to keep in mind. First, if you’re thirsty, drink water. It’s that simple. Second, keep drinking until your urine runs clear. Once you’re there, back down to sipping. Feel free to enjoy your morning cup of French pressed coffee.
I think everyone realizes that they should drink more water. But this is a big challenge for a lot of athletes. Drinking frequently is harder for some.
Here are ten hydration habits that you can start working now to improve your health and performance:
- Right when you wake up, drink a full glass of cold, clean water.
- Every meal should include a full glass of water. Ideally you would drink a glass with each course.
- Are you struggling with hunger? Drink another glass and see how you feel in ten minutes time. Hunger might be a false symptom.
- Spend some money on a cool, functional water bottle that you actually love. You’ll be more likely to have it on hand and be hydrated.
- Are you sitting right now? Here’s a new rule for you – Every time you have a seat, put a glass of water in your hand. Yes, you’ll drink more often, but you’ll also be more aware of your total time spent sitting. That shit will kill you, you know?
- Always accompany coffee, alcohol, juice, etc, with a full glass of water.
- Challenge your friends/co-workers to drink more water. Have them call you out if they see you huddled up in the break-room with a jumbo serving of Diet Coke. Injecting accountability always helps.
- Don’t ever leave your Box after a tough workout without first going to the water fountain. Nip it in the bud.
- Try carbonated water. Really, this stuff is great. Don’t go for the flavored varieties, they are likely sweetened unnaturally. Add some citrus instead.
- Looking forward to a boozy night out? Don’t make rookie mistakes. Drink plenty of water now to prepare. You know those pints of Lager later on will have you posted up in the men’s room.
Take care of the little things first. Sleep as much as you can and use these habits to drink more water. You might find that most of your big secondary problems resolved themselves.
I have to go pee now. Cheers,
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good call, I am terrible at hydrating, I’m gonna give a few of these tips a good go.
Thanks for the advice!
Great to hear, Micah! Let us know how it goes. Not just if you’re able to stay more hydrated, but also if it makes you feel better.
There is research that shows eating whole fruits and veggies can also count towards hydration as they are loaded in water (espeically lettuce, apples, and oranges).
Also, lemon in your water with meals will aid in digestion. It’s also a great tool to add some flavor to your water without adding calories, or worse, artificial sweeteners.
All excellent advice! I’m a huge fan of lemon in carbonated water, it’s like healthy soda. Thanks, Celeste.
About seven years ago I read an article that mentioned some statistic that blew my mind, something to the effect of 82% of North Anericans’ bodies mistake dehydration for hunger. It also was accompanied by some other facts, but for whatever reason that hit home. Since that day, I don’t really ever find myself drinking less than about 4L a day. There is no doubt in my mind that it has helped me with hunger pangs and paved the way for healthy change in my own body.
Great article! I’m a huge advocate of proper hydration, myself, and think it is highly overlooked.
That’s great to hear Nolan. Thanks for the read.
[…] Step #1: Hydrate! […]
Good stuff, Kyle! I’ve been using the Skratch Labs Daily Electrolyte Mix to add a bit of flavor to my water and it definitely helps me to keep drinking throughout the day. Otherwise, I just struggle with drinking enough water. Have you guys ever checked out any of their stuff? I’d be curious to hear your thoughts.
[…] Click Here [Hydration] […]
[…] stuff is nothing new or revolutionary, but I was struck by a recent article on Barbell Shrugged by Kyle Smith who started it by writing, “The key to optimal performance […]