Summer is in full swing, and many individuals are opting to take their workouts outdoors.
While it can be incredibly freeing (not to mention enjoyable) to train in the great outdoors, it can also put individuals at a heightened risk for dehydration due to the intense heat and humidity present during the summer months.
Research shows that even being slightly dehydrated can reduce strength (by 2%), power (by 3%), and high-intensity endurance (by 10%) during a workout. <1> Dehydration also leads to a quicker onset of fatigue, cramping, and difficulty concentrating -- all factors that can impair your ability to perform at a high level.
Today, we give you our top 5 tips for staying hydrated during summer workouts.
Whether you train indoors or outdoors, these tips can help you stay hydrated and reduce the likelihood of experiencing the performance-reducing side effects of dehydration.
Let’s get started!
How to Keep Your Body Hydrated in Summer
#1 Don’t Cram Your Fluids
Hydration isn’t just about what you drink around your workout. It’s a much more global process.
As such, you should focus on consuming enough fluids throughout the day, not just cramming a bunch of fluids immediately before and after your workout.
You should consistently drink fluids throughout the day instead of loading up on a bunch of fluids immediately before training, which may speed elimination, potentially opening you up to dehydration.
Consistent intake of fluids supports better energy production, hydration status, and thirst response.
#2 Water Isn’t Enough
Notice in point #1 that we said you need to monitor your fluid intake, not just your water intake.
The reason for this is that water isn’t the only thing that affects your hydration status. You also need to be mindful of your electrolyte balance as electrolytes help your body absorb and store water inside your cells.
When we sweat (which happens quite profusely during summer workouts), we lose both water and electrolytes (charged ions that regulate fluid balance in the body, both inside and outside of cells).
Electrolytes also regulate muscle contraction and relaxation, affect cognitive performance, and maintain a proper heartbeat.
Failure to replace these electrolytes, even while consuming sufficient amounts of water, can lead to cramping, premature fatigue, and dehydration.
When you're consuming fluids during the day, make sure you also get in enough electrolytes.
Due to the importance of electrolytes in helping individuals stay hydrated during summer workouts, we included a comprehensive electrolyte matrix in our premium intra-workout supplement, Steel Fuel®.
Every serving of Steel Fuel® includes valuable minerals, including potassium, magnesium, and sodium, to support hydration and cell volumization alongside 5 grams of 2:1:1 BCAAs for energy production and muscle recovery.
#3 Keep Fluids in Plain Sight
Building off point #1 (drink fluids throughout the day), it helps to keep a glass of water handy so that it serves as a constant reminder to drink enough fluids during the day.
Now, while water is generally considered the best fluid for overall hydration, there are other options to support hydration.
Consuming fresh, whole foods like fruits and vegetables also contribute to your daily water and electrolyte intake.
If you’re not a fan of plain water, you can slice up some fresh fruit (berries, lemon, cucumber, lime, etc.) and drop them into your water bottle. This adds minimal calories to your water but considerably ramps of the flavor.
Another option is to mix up a serving of Steel Fuel® and sip on it throughout the day.
Both options help you consistently intake fluids throughout the day, thereby staying hydrated during summer workouts.
#4 Weigh Yourself Before & After Training
Weigh yourself immediately before and immediately after a workout.
If you lose weight from the beginning of your workout to the end, that means you have lost water (and electrolytes).
If this is the case, you need to replenish those lost fluids by consuming 16-24 ounces of water for every pound of weight you lost during the workout.
#5 Plan Ahead
If you know that you're going to be exercising in a hot environment for a considerable amount of time, plan, and make sure you have ample fluids (water + electrolytes). This is one of the main reasons we created Steel Fuel® -- it supplies valuable electrolytes that support hydration even when exercising in the most extreme conditions.
If the workout is very long, you may also want to consider some type of carbohydrate supplement to support exercise performance and energy production.
#6 Limit Alcohol
This point goes without saying, as most fitness-minded individuals already keep a close eye on their alcohol intake.
Nevertheless, it bears mentioning.
If you’re going to participate in summer workouts outdoors, be mindful of your alcohol intake.
Alcohol possesses well-known diuretic effects, which can contribute to dehydration. <2>
Interestingly, it’s not entirely uncommon for individuals to have a beer after long runs (10k’s or fun runs, or instance) or team sports. <3,4>
After all, beer is mostly water, and it does contain some electrolytes (not as much as say a sports drink, but it does contain a small amount).
Research has found that there is little difference in recovery from dehydration, whether the rehydration beverage is alcohol-free or contains up to 2% alcohol. <3>
However, when the beverage's contents contain 4% or more alcohol, recovery can be delayed.
The takeaway here is that if you're going to have a beer after a day of sports or outdoor workouts, keep it moderate, consume other fluids (water, sports drink, etc.) as well as electrolytes.
How much water do I need before and during exercise?
Recommendations for fluid intake before, during, and after workouts are:
- Pre-Workout: 16-20 oz. of water at least 2 hours before exercise
- Intra-Workout: 7-10 oz. of water for every 10-20 minutes of exercise
- Post-Workout: 16-24 oz. of water for each pound lost due to sweating
Warning Signs of Dehydration
The best strategy to prevent dehydration is to be proactive with your hydration by consuming enough fluids throughout the day.
If you wait until you’re thirsty to start drinking water, you’re too late.
If you think you may be dehydrated, here are some signs and symptoms to look for:
Signs of mild to moderate dehydration:
- Dry Mouth
- Dry Skin
- Lethargy or Fatigue
- Feeling Lightheaded
- Decreased Urine Output
Signs of severe dehydration (which may lead to a medical emergency):
- Extreme Thirst
- Very Dry Mouth
- Lack of Sweating
- Sunken Eyes
- Inability to Urinate
- Low Blood Pressure
- Rapid Breathing
- Rapid Heartbeat
- Unconsciousness (in extreme cases)
Training in the great outdoors can be a blast, but it can also leave you feeling drier than a wrung-out towel.
Use the tips in this article to beat the heat and stay hydrated during summer workouts.
- Judelson DA, Maresh CM, Anderson JM, et al. Hydration and muscular performance: does fluid balance affect strength, power and high-intensity endurance?. Sports Med. 2007;37(10):907-921. doi:10.2165/00007256-200737100-00006
- Shirreffs, S. M., & Maughan, R. J. (1997). Restoration of fluid balance after exercise-induced dehydration: effects of alcohol consumption. Journal of Applied Physiology, 83(4), 1152–1158. https://doi.org/10.1152/jappl.19184.108.40.2062
- Dietze PM, Fitzgerald JL, Jenkinson RA. Drinking by professional australian football league (AFL) players: prevalence and correlates of risk. Med J Aust (2008) 189(9):479–83.
- Maughan RJ. Alcohol and football. J Sports Sci (2006) 24(7):741–8.10.1080/02640410500482933