Preventing Athletic Dehydration in Summer

By Rich Gray
Rich Gray
Rich Gray
July 16, 2014 Updated: July 16, 2014

As athletes begin pre-season training and summer temperatures continue to climb, the danger of dehydration has become a hot topic. 

Reading the paper a while ago, I cringed at the Fort Hayes, Kan. forecast of 112 degrees along with the other record July temperatures set in cities across the U.S. I couldn’t help but think of the athletes. So I reached out to some coaches and friends of Hammer Strength to find out what they are doing to prepare athletes for this extreme heat. 

1. Increase carbohydrate consumption immensely, specifically whole-grain/wheat starches. Starches, such as breads, potatoes and pastas, hold water in the body. Lack of carbohydrates means lack of available water to facilitate muscle contraction, which can lead to fatigue, injury and severe heat illness.

2. Keep close attention to the color and smell of your urine. If it looks like lemonade or water, keep doing what you’re doing. If it looks like apple juice and has an odor, you are already dehydrated and should replenish fluids immediately.

3. Focus on sodium enriched snacks and beverages, especially throughout training camp. Drink sports recovery beverages (Gatorade products) as well as supplementing with salty snacks throughout meetings and off times (pretzels, baked potato chips, etc.).

– Adam Feit, Director of Performance – Reach Your Potential Training, Inc.

4. We provide all of our athletes with a Gatorade bottle and make them mandatory at every workout. We also suggest that they carry it to class and any other activity they have throughout the day.

5. When workouts are complete, we promote active rehydration, suggesting 2-3 cups of a sports drink, recovery beverage or water for every pound of weight loss. We also remind them that consuming sodium sources after exercise helps the body rehydrate more effectively.

– Eric Hammer, Assistant Strength Coach – University of Louisville

6. Georgia High School Association has new rules in place which require 5 days of heat acclimation before the pads can go on.

7. We encourage the kids to continue hydrating with approximately ten 12oz glasses of water per day (more on training days) and supplement it with Gatorade and fruits to maintain electrolyte balance.

8. We also continually remind athletes that hydration is a seven day-per-week commitment. Trying to hydrate the day of practice is too late.

– Eric Lougas, Head Strength Coach – Westminster Schools

9. After training, replenish with at least 64 ounces fluid, and even up to 1 ½ times that amount (96 ounces) to be completely rehydrated.

10. Beverages that are cooler than room temperature are absorbed best, since they move throughout the bloodstream to the muscles faster.

– Carlo Alvarez, Head Strength Coach – St. Xavier Catholic High School

11. Try drinking at least 8 oz. at each meal and between each meal. Remember – thirst is not a reliable indicator of hydration status. Typically speaking, if you are thirsty you are dehydrated already. 

12. Avoid caffeine and beverages containing alcohol as they can contribute to further dehydration.

– Jevon Bowman, Head Strength Coach  – University of South Dakota

If you, like many, are debating the benefits of water vs. sports drinks, keep in mind that sports drinks containing carbohydrates have been associated with enhanced performance and delayed fatigue. However, the carbohydrates in sports drinks need to come in the form of good carbs, not sugars, Getting carbohydrates and fluids in the two hour “recovery window” after practice helps recovery and rehydration and those first 30-45 minutes are the most important.

Source: Visit the Life Fitness blog for more health and fitness information.

*Image of “american football player” via zojkeram /

Rich Gray
Rich Gray