7 Essential Tips to Keeping Hydrated When Martial Arts Training

How to Stay Hydrated When Exercising in the Summer

Summer seems to have arrived here in Edmonton with temperatures reaching the 30’s. This is great for the sun worshippers and there is nothing better than a nice day, rather than the typical Canadian weather. But we must remember that keeping hydrated is so important to your health, especially if you are doing a physical activity like martial arts.
If you don’t drink enough water, especially in hot weather, it can have an adverse effect on your body. Staying hydrated whilst training in martial arts is very important due to the added sweat loss (compared to normal activities such as working in an office or watching TV). Dehydration leads to muscle fatigue and a loss of coordination. Even small amounts of water loss will hinder athletic performance.
So here are our 7 essential tips to keeping hydrated when training in martial arts.

01. Drink Water – Keep Hydrated

Very simply, drink plenty – and try to make it is water rather than fizzy drinks, or tea & coffee

  • Drink Before You Train: You need to be drinking 500 ml an hour or two before training and 250 ml within 30 minutes of starting your training. This will help prepare your body with the right amount of fluid and means that your body has enough water to release through sweat and not completely dehydrate you. You need to be drinking 500 ml an hour or two before training and 250 ml within 30 minutes of starting your training. This will help prepare your body with the right amount of fluid and means that your body has enough water to release through sweat and not completely dehydrate you.
  • Drink Whilst You Train: Try and drink 250 ml every 10-20 minutes whilst you are training. This will vary slightly depending on the day’s temperature and the amount of physical exertion you do. For a lot of people, water is the best fluid to take, but be aware that if you sweat profusely, you will lose a lot of vital minerals such as sodium and you need to replace them as soon as possible.
  • Drink After Training: Within 30 minutes of finishing training, you should aim to drink 250 ml to 400 ml of water – again, depending on the heat and exertion. If you have lost a lot of salt through your sweat, an easy way to spot this telltale sign is that your Dobok will have salt stains on them. In this case, a sports drink is advised (think Gatorade Sports drink – not the fizzy kind) or an electrolyte replacement drink. You can also replace these lost minerals through foods. If you don’t do this, you may start to suffer from hyponatremia (water intoxication).

02. More Than Water

As stated above, sweating can rid your body of more than water – you can lose other essential things like electrolytes (these are minerals found in the blood that helps your body to regulate (amongst other things) the amount of water in the body). Replacing them with sports drinks or electrolyte drinks is one way to help to keep hydrated, but eating fruits and other foods are a healthy option for you and help you maintain a healthy diet to boot.

  • Foods with Calcium: Your body uses calcium for lots of things – such as bone and teeth formation, it helps your body with its blood clotting, muscle and enzyme functions and maintaining a normal heart rhythm. Calcium is usually associated with milk and dairy products but is can also be found in meat, fish with bones i.e. sardines, eggs, beans and certain fruits such as dried apricots and figs. Vegetables such as asparagus and collard greens also contain calcium.
  • Foods with Magnesium: Magnesium helps support bone and teeth development, maintains nerve and muscle function and enzyme activation as well as helping to reduce high blood pressure. A great source of magnesium can be found in leafy green vegetables, nuts, cereals, beans and tomato paste.
  • Food with Sodium and Chloride: Sodium and chloride — are two electrolytes that make up table salt. But you don’t have to just have salt on your food to get sodium and chloride; you can find them in lots of foods such as beef, pork, sardines, cheese, and olives.
  • Foods with Potassium: Lots of fruits and vegetables contain potassium, such as bananas, tomatoes, oranges, melons, prunes, raisins and in leafy green vegetables (spinach, turnip greens, collard greens and kale), potatoes and sweet potatoes, peas, and beans.

03. Monitor Your Weight

It is worth getting onto the scales before and after your training. As a guide, for each pound lost during training, you should drink an extra 400 ml of water. Please Note: if you lose more than 3% of your body weight, you may be suffering from significant dehydration – you NEED TO ADDRESS THIS STRAIGHT AWAY. Losing a few pounds in weight during training can result in dizziness, fatigue, and cramps.

04. Check Your Urine

This is not the most pleasant of tasks but it is an easy indication as to the state of your hydration. Follow this color chart for an idea on your hydration status:

check your urine



1 & 2 – Target

3 & 4 – Dehydrated
5 & 6 – Serious Dehydration – you should address this immediately
Losing water will have a negative effect on you – here is an example of how water loss affects performance:
2% – Impaired performance
4% – Capacity for muscular work declines
6% – Heat exhaustion
8% – Hallucination
10% – Circulatory collapse and heat stroke

05. Pinch Your Skin

The skins ability to change shape and return to normal is called Skin turgor. Pinching your skin is a very simple way to check your hydration (though not 100 percent reliable for everyone).
Use your second finger and thumb and simply pinch the skin on the back of your hand (but not too hard!), hold it for a couple of seconds and then let go. If the skin returns to its normal position almost straight away – your hydration levels would appear to be normal. If it takes a while to return to its normal position, then there is a chance that you may be suffering from dehydration.

06. Dizziness

If you feel dizzy and light headed during your martial arts training then it this is a good sign that you may be dehydrated. If you move from a position on the floor to standing and feel lightheaded and dizzy, then again, this is a sign that you are dehydrated. Inform your Sensei straight away and grab a good drink of water before returning to training. When this type of dizziness occurs, it is due to a decrease in your plasma volume, which results in your heart working much harder to get blood to the working muscles. When there isn’t enough water in your blood stream, both the blood volume and blood pressure drop, which results in the dizziness feeling.

07. Don’t Let Your Mouth Get Dry

This seems such a simple thing, but one of the first signs of dehydration is when you get a dry mouth. If you find that your mouth starts feeling like a sand pit, grab a good drink of water. A quick water break during your training can help stop exercise-induced dehydration.


You really need to be keeping yourself hydrated before, during and after your martial arts training. Try to eat foods that will naturally help replace lost minerals. Your body knows best, just listen to it and recognize the symptoms of dehydration. Each person will need a different amount of water depending on a number of factors. – A few of which we have covered in this post.
So keep on training, stay hydrated and stay safe.

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