Keeping Hydrated During Martial Arts Training

7 Tips on How To Stay Hydrated for Martial Arts Training

Keeping Hydrated During Martial Arts Training

As an older person who has trained in the martial art of taekwondo multiple times per week, staying hydrated is a top priority for me. I need to replenish those fluids! Proper hydration is crucial no matter your age if you want to get the most out of your martial arts training and avoid fatigue, cramps or other issues. But keeping hydrated gets increasingly important as you get older.

Our natural thirst signals become blunted over time, so you can’t always rely on thirst to know when to drink up. I’ve also noticed my sweat rate has increased with age, which compounds the issue.

Dehydration can sabotage a good workout quickly, especially in a demanding sport like taekwondo. Trust me, trying to nail those spinning kicks while dehydrated is rough! Over the years, I’ve dialed in some go-to strategies that help me stay hydrated before, during and after class.

Here are my top 7 tips for staying on top of your hydration as a middle-aged martial artist:

Tip 1: Hydrate Well the Day Before

The hydration process doesn’t start when you walk into the dojang. It begins the day before. I make a point to drink steadily throughout the day leading up to class. For me that means 70-90 oz of water spread over the day before training. Drinking steadily keeps you from having to “chug and pee” right before class.

I also limit caffeine and alcohol intake which can have a dehydrating effect. And I make sure to get sufficient electrolytes like sodium and potassium. Drinks like coconut water are great electrolyte sources.

Tip 2: Have a Pre-Class Routine

In the 2-3 hours before class, I drink about 20 oz of water. I’ll also have a small snack like an apple to get some fast fuel. Within 30-60 mins before class, I’ll sip another 5-10 oz. This tops off my tank before we start sweating without making me feel sloshy.

Having a pre-class routine helps make sure I don’t start class already dehydrated. I adjust my amounts if it’s a hot day when sweat losses will be higher. The key is not guzzling a bunch right before class – that can lead to an upset stomach.

Tip 3: Know Your Sweat Rate

This one is huge. Everyone sweats at different rates during exercise. I’ve calculated mine so I know roughly how much fluid I’m losing.

Here’s how: weigh yourself nude before and after class, subtract the difference, and replace with 20-24 oz of fluid per pound lost within 2 hours. Of course, water weight will fluctuate day to day, but this gives me a ballpark sweat rate to aim for.

Knowing this helps me gauge how much to drink during and after class to fully replenish. An average Taekwondo session makes me sweat off around 2 pounds.

Tip 4: Sip Regularly During Class

I always bring a 20-24 oz bottle of chilled water to class. Some people prefer sports drinks, but for a 1-hour session water is usually fine for me. I make sure to take a few good swigs every time there’s a quick break.

It seems simple, but staying on top of sipping that water mid-class can be tough when you’re focused on the instructor and drills. I have to remind myself to keep sipping even when not thirsty. Usually I’ll finish at least 12-16 oz.

Tip 5: Replenish Electrolytes

After a tough taekwondo workout, I’m not just low on water but also electrolytes like sodium and potassium that are lost through sweat.

To replenish them, I’ll add a pinch of sea salt and potassium salt to my post-class water. Sometimes I’ll use an oral rehydration solution or sports drink. Those electrolytes help my body retain the water rather than just peeing it out.

Coconut water, milk, fruit, and veggies are also great natural sources I eat post-class for electrolyte replenishment.

Tip 6: Weigh Yourself

Here’s a little trick I learned. I always weigh myself nude (or in consistent underwear) pre and post-class. This gives me an accurate gauge of how much fluid I lost through sweat.

Seeing that number helps reinforce why I need to focus on fully replenishing after class. If I worked out first thing in the morning, I’ll also weigh myself the next morning. I aim to be back to my pre-class weight within 24 hours maximum.

Tip 7: Listen To Your Body

No two days are the same, so I have to listen to my body day-to-day. If my urine is dark or minimal, I know I’m behind on hydration and will drink steadily through the day. Headaches are another red flag.

On hot and humid days, I make sure to bump up my hydration game. I also hydrate more diligently in the summer months.

It’s taken some trial and error to learn what works for me. The key is being vigilant and having set routines, while also staying flexible. My hydration needs at these advanced years are different from my 20s. But with the right strategies, age doesn’t have to slow you down.

Final Thoughts

No matter your age, staying well hydrated is one of the most important things you can do for your martial arts training and performance. Follow these 7 tips to make sure you’re properly fueled with enough water and electrolytes before, during and after practice.

Pay attention to your sweat rate, pre-class and post-class weighing, and how you feel. A hydration routine tailored to your personal needs will have you feeling great in the dojo at any age!