The anabolic effect of water in strength training
Strength athletes grow faster after training sessions if they have enough water in their bodies. Dehydration, or hypohydration as scientists call it, reduces the natural production of anabolic hormones after strength training and stimulates the production of catabolic hormones. Sports scientists from California State University write about the phenomenon in the Journal of Applied Physiology.
Dehydration = bad
If you lose several percent of your bodyweight through dehydration the quality of a strength training session will decline. [Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2007 Oct; 39(10): 1817-24.] What's more, studies with endurance athletes show that dehydration enhances post-training cortisol synthesis. [Int J Sports Med. 2006 Oct; 27(10): 765-70.]
Lastly, fat cells that have a good water supply can release their fatty acids more easily into the bloodstream, and muscle cells burn less protein if they are full of water. So you could say water is an anabolic.
The Cal State research increases what we know about the importance of euhydration for strength athletes. The researchers got 7 bodybuilders to go through the same training routine 3 times: squats with 80 of the weight at which they could just manage 1 rep.
On one occasion the subjects had sufficient fluid in their body [EU], on the other they had lost 2.5 percent of their bodyweight as a result of dehydration [HY25] and on the third they had lost 5 percent of their bodyweight through dehydration [HY50].
After the training session the researchers measured the amount of anabolic and catabolic hormones in the subjects' blood. They observed that dehydration resulted in an extra-high cortisol peak after the training and a reduced – but not significant – release of testosterone and growth hormone.
"These data demonstrate that body water status is an important consideration in modulating the hormonal and metabolic responses to resistance exercise", the researchers conclude.
J Appl Physiol. 2008 Sep;105(3):816-24.
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