Cold vs. Room Temperature Water During Workouts

Does it matter what temperature your water is during a workout? Is there an advantage to drinking cold versus room temperature water? Science takes a look and the answer is not so simple.

Hydration is vital to an athlete’s performance, and usually the liquid consumed is cold, because not many people find a warm beverage to be refreshing during a workout. Few studies have investigated how the temperature of the ingested liquid effects performance and core temperature during an exercise session. A recent study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition investigated the effect of a cold beverage on core temperature and performance during an exercise session.

The study included 45 physically fit adult males who completed two 60-minute exercise sessions per week in a moderate climate. The sessions consisted of a 5 minute warm-up with dynamic stretching, 5 minutes of medicine ball exercises, 35 minutes of full body strength training, and 15 minutes of conditioning. The participants consumed randomly assigned cold or room temperature water during rest periods. Every 15 minutes core temperature was measured using an ingestable thermometer. Upon completion of each exercise session 3 performance tests were performed: bench press to fatigue, standing broad jump, and bicycle time to exhaustion.1

The results of the study showed that both groups significantly increased their core temperature during the exercise session, and demonstrated a significant decline in hydration status. The participants who had consumed the cold water during rest periods had a significantly smaller rise in core temperature compared to those who consumed the room temperature water. The cold water consumers were able to delay their increase in core body temperature for at least 30 minutes, while the room temperature consumers increased body temperature from baseline after just 15 minutes.2

There was no significant difference between the cold water and the room temperature group in the standing broad jump or bicycling time to exhaustion, but the bench press actually did show a small decrease in performance when drinking cold water. Subjects participating in the room temperature condition were able to perform significantly more bench press reps to failure than when they participated in the cold condition. The range varied from 15-30 reps during the cold condition, compared to a range of 17-31 in the room temperature condition.3

This study indicates that drinking cold water during an exercise session can significantly delay the increase in core body temperature in a moderate climate with normally hydrated subjects. Although it was marginal in this study, cold water consumption may actually decrease performance in the bench press.

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