Why Do Bodybuilders Drink So Much Water? The Hydration-Hypertrophy Connection!

Staying hydrated is important and this is especially the case for bodybuilders who do strenuous exercise on a regular basis. Water is the key to life, it is needed for all occurring metabolic processes inside our body.

The reason why bodybuilders drink so much water is actually rooted in science and serves a crucial role in their performance in the gym, muscle gain, and post-workout recovery.

So if you are looking to uncover the truth behind why bodybuilders carry around huge bottles of water, here is the chance. Sit tight and keep reading!

Key Takeaways

  • Maintaining proper hydration is crucial for muscle growth.
  • Adequate water intake is essential for athletes to maintain optimal physical condition and perform well in the gym.
  • Water facilitates the quick absorption of vital minerals by the body, preparing it for the next round of activities.
  • Additionally, proper hydration regulates other bodily processes that support the intense workout regime of a bodybuilder.
  • Adequate water intake also speeds up the recovery of sore muscles by promoting protein synthesis in the body.

Does Drinking More Water Help Build Muscle?

Does Drinking More Water Help Build Muscle

Yes, drinking water does contribute significantly to building muscles. For bodybuilders, drinking water is more than just quenching thirst. It is a strategic necessity that keeps their body going.

A study [1] found that not having enough water (up to 4.8% of your body weight) changes endocrine and metabolic internal environments before and after tough workouts.

Not having enough water enhances the exercise-induced catabolic hormones and modifies the anabolic hormonal response. Moreover, it leads to a large influx of metabolic substrates.  Dehydration also reduces the body’s insulin sensitivity, which if kept up for long can adversely affect muscle growth or any gains.

Since muscles are made up of mostly water, adequate hydration is required to maintain muscle function, growth, and recovery. Body temperature rises during a workout and dehydration starts to set in, as there is an increase in sweat production.

This can affect athletic performance as blood volume is decreased due to exercising muscles and high blood volume is necessary for peak performance. [2] Also, proper hydration can lead to defined and toned muscles in athletes, which is a sought-after appearance by many bodybuilders.

Additionally, here are four ways in which water directly helps in building muscle:

  • Water energizes the body’s muscles by keeping the electrolyte count right, which helps in maintaining balance and strength during tasks such as weight lifting.
  • Water makes your body flexible by keeping the synovial fluid replenished. Synovial fluid acts as a lubricant between the joints and protects the bones from injuries and stress.
  • Hydration increases pain tolerance during workouts and alternatively dehydration can increase the perception and sensitivity to pain. [3]
  • Adequate hydration helps in the speedy recovery of sore muscles and removes toxins from your body, thus keeping the muscles up and working.

How Much Water Should a Bodybuilder Drink a Day?

How Much Water Should a Bodybuilder Drink a Day

The thing is, there is no hard and fast rule or even a set amount of water that a bodybuilder should be drinking in a day. Factors like the fat-muscle ratio, height, weight, training hours, training intensity, etc. usually determine the amount of water you should be drinking.

The general consensus in the bodybuilding community is that athletes should consume at least 1 gallon of water in 24 hours.

The goal here is to prevent dehydration but then dehydration is a state that is truly difficult to achieve. Yes, you read that right. Working out for 90 mins without water will not dehydrate you as being thirsty is not equivalent to being dehydrated.

There are actually two very opposing schools of opinion regarding this. According to one of them, proper hydration need not be complicated and has been well demonstrated to be achieved by simply drinking to thirst and consuming a recommended diet before and after ultra-endurance events[4] or training sessions.

However, according to the second school, thirst is not necessarily a good indicator of hydration needs, and athletes or bodybuilders should not rely on thirst alone for their body’s fluid replacement needs. Bodybuilders should take special care to prehydrate before exercise, during workouts, and rehydrate post-workout. [5]

Therefore, the practical thing to do will be to achieve a middle ground and follow the fluid-replacement schedule around the workout window and drink when thirsty for the rest of the day.

Why Do Bodybuilders Drink So Much Water?

Why Do Bodybuilders Drink So Much Water

Water is not just a need but a necessity for bodybuilders. This is because of several reasons:

Hydration and Protein Synthesis

Drinking water helps to increase protein synthesis in the body, which in turn promotes muscle growth and repair. Proper hydration is crucial for this process as it aids in the transportation of nutrients and optimizes cellular functions that lead to muscle hypertrophy or growth.

Hydration Supports Performance and Recovery

Bodybuilders engage in very challenging and demanding workout routines on a daily basis that push their body to its limits. Therefore, if they do not have a consistent hydration routine, getting dehydrated can be a likely scenario. Adequate water intake is directly related to performance in the gym and the athlete’s ability to endure the rigorous exercises.

Moreover, post-workout recovery is also an important part of progress and it is important to supply the body with the fluids it loses during the training session. Proper hydration can help a bodybuilder deal with recovery from sore muscles in a short time. Also, being well-hydrated will help them be focused and avoid injuries caused by exhaustion.

Water Makes Minerals And Supplements Work Better

Achieving optimal hydration isn’t just about drinking water, as important minerals like sodium, potassium, and magnesium are also included in fluid intake. These minerals also play a significant role in muscle function.

Bodybuilders pay close attention to their health and take it seriously, so they also include electrolyte and mineral supplements in their water. By taking these supplements with water, their effectiveness is increased.

Water Cleans Up Toxins

When following a high-protein diet, which is often the case for bodybuilders, it is important to make sure you are properly hydrated.

This is because water plays a vital role in flushing out toxins and other metabolic waste from the body, including excess nitrogen, urea, and ketones. By drinking enough water, you can help support your body’s natural detoxification process and maintain optimal health.

Water Helps In Metabolizing Fat

For proper functioning of the kidneys, it is essential to have an adequate intake of water. If the body doesn’t have enough water, some of the burden of the kidneys is shifted to the liver.

The liver metabolizes the stored fat. As a result, the liver has to work harder and ends up burning less fat than it normally would. 

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Drinking Water Prevents Kidney Stones

For kidney stones to form, the urine must be supersaturated with solutes. A low amount of fluid intake will of course lead to low urine output and when the urine volume decreases, the urine may get saturated with various solutes such as calcium, oxalate, phosphorus, and uric acid.

Other than this high-protein diets combined with low water intake can cause excess protein to leak out from the kidneys into the urine.

Hydration Reduces Fluid Retention

Despite common misconceptions, consuming water can actually aid in reducing excess water weight. Sometimes the body can retain fluid or water when it thinks it’s becoming dehydrated.

This happens because the body starts to save water, believing that there’s not enough available. The extra water is stored in pockets outside the cells, which can lead to added weight.

Water Is Needed For a Satisfactory Bowel Movement

Inadequate liquid in your colon can cause a bout of serious constipation. This can be a direct result of not consuming enough water as when there are not enough fluids in the body, it is loaned from organs like the colon.

Lack of enough water hardens the stool and the person experiences a painful bowel passing. This is especially the case when bodybuilders are looking to bulk up and keep their bodies in a calorie surplus state, by sometimes consuming even more than 4000 calories in a day.

Water Helps With High-sodium Diets

If you’re dealing with a persistent water retention problem, it could be due to a high intake of sodium or salt in your diet.

You may have noticed feeling extremely thirsty after consuming something salty. This occurs because your body is attempting to retain water to reduce the concentration of sodium. To address this, you can either up your water intake or reduce your salt consumption.

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Wrapping Up

Thus, it is abundantly clear that appropriate water intake is very important for bodybuilders.

You as an athlete, can consider establishing a hydration routine that is tailored to your body type and exercise routine. There are several trial-and-error methods for this, one of which is monitoring the urine color. However, this is not applicable to all individuals.

Consistency is key when it comes to maintaining a healthy body. It’s important to establish a routine of hydrating, nourishing, exercising, and allowing for recovery time.

By prioritizing hydration and planning accordingly, you’ll give your body the best chance to reach your desired physical shape and achieve your goals.


  1. Judelson, D. A., et. al. (2008). Effect of hydration state on resistance exercise-induced endocrine markers of anabolism, catabolism, and metabolism. Journal of Applied Physiology, 105(3), 816-824
  2. Zach, K. (2021). Hydration and Nutrition in Athletes 5. Essential Sports Medicine: A Clinical Guide for Students and Residents, 75. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-64316-4_5
  3. Bear, T., Philipp, M., Hill, S., & Mündel, T. (2016). A preliminary study on how hypohydration affects pain perception. Psychophysiology, 53(5), 605-610. https://doi.org/10.1111/psyp.12610
  4. Hoffman M. D. (2019). Proper Hydration During Ultra-endurance Activities. Sports medicine and arthroscopy review, 27(1), 8–14. https://doi.org/10.1097/JSA.0000000000000229
  5. (2007). Exercise and Fluid Replacement. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 39, 39(2), 377-390. https://doi.org/10.1249/mss.0b013e31802ca597