Why Is Water Important in Building Muscle?

A close-up, side view of a teen Caucasian woman drinking bottled water

In our mission to build quality muscle, we often consume enough protein, fats, carbs and vegetables. We get enough sleep and take the right supplements. However, at some time or another, we are all probably guilty of forgetting perhaps the most important nutrient of all, water. Maintaining hydration is not only important for our health, but for our muscles as well.

Muscle Strength

Muscle strength is important for boosting muscle growth, since muscles adapt to an increase in loads by triggering growth. A study published in the “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research,” reports that a 1.5 percent decrease in water loss resulted in a decrease of muscle strength of the one rep max bench press. Therefore, given that such a small amount of water loss can compromise strength, staying hydrated can help you keep your strength and gain muscle over the long haul.

Muscle Breakdown

Researchers found that the amount of water within cells plays a critical part in whether or not muscle breakdown occurs. Preventing muscle breakdown is crucial since muscle breakdown stops muscle growth within muscle cells, protein synthesis. “Biochemistry Journal,” reports that decreased body water leads to cells shrinking and protein breakdown. Thus, by maintaining adequate fluid levels, we can cause cells to swell, thereby reducing the amount of protein breakdown and increasing the building of new muscle tissue.


In trying to gain muscle, supplying your body with raw materials such as protein and carbs isn’t enough. Unless those nutrients are efficiently absorbed in the body, you can kiss muscle gains goodbye. Proper digestion is crucial, and water taken during or after meals improves digestion and helps maintain a healthy digestive track. This is important in view of the fact that dehydration can prevent proper digestion from occurring, resulting in nutrients not being absorbed and muscle not being built.

Exercise Performance and Recovery

A small decrease in water loss can negatively affect exercise performance as well as recovery. Proper training and recovery are essentials in the journey toward muscle growth. Dehydration can throw you off course, so drinking adequate fluids before, during and after exercise can prevent the side effects of dehydration.


Over the years, controversy has risen over the proper amount of water consumption for healthy people. The old standard of eight glasses a day has fallen by the wayside, primarily because of the premise that athletes need more water. According to “Muscle and Fitness Magazine,” the American College of Sports Medicine took a stand and recommended the following: 20 ounces before exercise, 10 ounces every 15 minutes of exercise and 40 ounces for one hour of workout.