In his 2017 book, The TB12 Method, to illustrate the importance of proper hydration, Tom Brady makes the powerful analogy of a hydrated muscle resembling a fresh beef tenderloin and a dehydrated muscle resembling a piece of dried up beef jerkey.
The TB12 Method is Brady’s fitness training methodology for achieving a “lifetime of sustained peak performance,” which he and his trainer, Alex Guerrero, designed over the course of 12 years of working together.
The TB12 Method is a holistic training lifestyle that centers around developing and maintaining muscle pliability, a way of preventing injuries by keeping muscles strong, active, and easily flexible.
According to his book, Brady and his trainer believe that “muscle pliability is the missing leg of traditional strength and training model of aerobic activity and weight lifting” and that “pliability and the TB12 Method can help reduce the risk of injury” as well as provide a set of tools for anyone to enhance their long-term potential.
The TB12 method consists of 12 principles, and this article highlights the principle which Brady believes to be “by far” the most important of the twelve— proper hydration.
In the book’s chapter on proper hydration, it explains the critical role it plays in aiding in bodily functions and gives some fresh and sensible tips on getting the most out of your water intake.
Since what the book suggests is relatively easy to implement, I thought it would be worthwhile to summarize the book’s main points in this blog post.
Sometimes a new understanding of why something is important is just enough of a catalyst for a new habit to take hold.
Before getting into the information, I will share that Brady’s regimen has received criticism, saying it’s not backed by science and that “exercise science has never heard of muscle pliability.” On the other end of the spectrum, in this article from 1994, Assistant Professor of Dance at UCLA, Judy Alter, claimed: “flexibility is out, muscle pliability is in.”
As with any topic, take the points that resonate with you and leave the rest.
The TB12 Method’s Beliefs On Hydration
Listed below are TB12’s reasons why pliability and overall health is dependent upon hydration:
1 | Water constantly regenerates our muscles and maintains our level of pliability. Therefore, developing optimal muscle strength depends on pliability.
2 | Water helps the lymphatic system flush out toxins. Therefore, if we don’t drink enough water, toxins build up in our cells, tissues, and organs.
3 | Water hydrates, while soda, juice, coffee, tea, and alcohol are dehydrating and take away from pliability.
4 | Water with added electrolytes is best. Electrolytes are already present in our bodies in the form of sodium, calcium, potassium, magnesium and other nutrients. Electrolytes create an electric charge that aids in many essential processes in the body like muscle contraction, nerve impulse, the lymphatic system, and regulating pH levels. Read more about electrolytes here.
5 | Because water aids in so many bodily functions like, metabolism, digestion, brain, kidney, muscle, joint and circulating oxygen into the bloodstream, it’s important to keep those systems flushed with water.
6 | Water hydrates cartilage, which decreases joint pain. This is especially important for athletes.
7 | Drinking water replenishes what we sweat and breathe out every day. Most athletes sweat and breathe out between 8-10 cups of water a day.
Why Enhance Your Water With Electrolytes?
The TB12 Method believes that water enhanced with electrolytes makes your hydration “wetter" and here’s why:
We lose water and electrolytes by breathing and sweating, which is why we are often dizzy and/or faint during exercise. Electrolytes help replace the minerals and nutrients lost through breathing and sweating.
Electrolytes help water permeate our cells. Water that’s been enhanced with electrolytes passes in and out of your cells easily and efficiently.
There are many electrolyte supplements on the market today. The formula Tom Brady uses is available on his website. According to the product description, the “TB12™ Electrolytes are harvested, not made — increasing the concentration of the 72 trace minerals extracted from an inland sea to effectively enhance hydration. This natural ionic trace mineral blend is flavorless and naturally preserving” and can be added to any drink.
The TB12 Method’s Take On Different Types Of Water
Tap Water: Water from municipal sources most likely contains chlorine, flouride and possibly lead. Therefore, filter it first, even when using in small amounts.
Distilled Water: Since distilled water is stripped of its mineral content, add electrolytes.
Spring Water: Bottles labeled “spring water” may or may not have been treated and could contain bacteria or could simply be treated tap water from various sources.
Mineral Water: Mineral water is a good option because it usually has an alkalizing effect.
Carbonated Water: Due to added sodium and that it contains less oxygen than regular water and could be acidic, Brady avoids carbonated water.
The TB12 Method’s Recommended Hydration Routine
Drink 1-2 glasses of water when you first wake up.
Spread out your hydration during the day. Keep in mind that it takes at least 14 days to reach a baseline of hydration. So keep your intake of water consistent from day to day.
Limit drinking water during meals because it “washes away the body’s natural enzymes, interfering with digestion. Wait an hour or so after you’re done eating before drinking water.”
Although the TB12 Method is mainly geared toward helping serious athletes achieve a lifetime of sustained peak performance, it’s principles can be applied by anyone interested in maintaining general well being.
While I’ve always heard that it’s important to hydrate, I’ve never heard it explained for the reasons stated in Brady’s book. And since the reasoning seems logical as well as important, I’m willing to give it a try.
I’m glad I have a renewed appreciation for the importance of proper hydration, and hope to increase my water intake while decreasing my intake of beverages that are dehydrating (or at least offset the consumption with extra water.😉)