Hydration and muscular performance: does fluid balance affect strength, power and high-intensity endurance?

Sports Med. 2007;37(10):907-21. doi: 10.2165/00007256-200737100-00006.


Significant scientific evidence documents the deleterious effects of hypohydration (reduced total body water) on endurance exercise performance; however, the influence of hypohydration on muscular strength, power and high-intensity endurance (maximal activities lasting >30 seconds but <2 minutes) is poorly understood due to the inconsistent results produced by previous investigations. Several subtle methodological choices that exacerbate or attenuate the apparent effects of hypohydration explain much of this variability. After accounting for these factors, hypohydration appears to consistently attenuate strength (by approximately 2%), power (by approximately 3%) and high-intensity endurance (by approximately 10%), suggesting alterations in total body water affect some aspect of force generation. Unfortunately, the relationships between performance decrement and crucial variables such as mode, degree and rate of water loss remain unclear due to a lack of suitably uninfluenced data. The physiological demands of strength, power and high-intensity endurance couple with a lack of scientific support to argue against previous hypotheses that suggest alterations in cardiovascular, metabolic and/or buffering function represent the performance-reducing mechanism of hypohydration. On the other hand, hypohydration might directly affect some component of the neuromuscular system, but this possibility awaits thorough evaluation. A critical review of the available literature suggests hypohydration limits strength, power and high-intensity endurance and, therefore, is an important factor to consider when attempting to maximise muscular performance in athletic, military and industrial settings.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Body Water / physiology
  • Dehydration / physiopathology*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Muscle Strength / physiology*
  • Physical Endurance / physiology*
  • Water-Electrolyte Balance*