When you get really serious about your workout, it’s easy to push yourself to the point of fatigue. It’s natural to experience occasional days of low energy, and your life outside the gym can compound the problem. When you’re working out full-bore on top of not eating optimally or getting enough rest, your body won’t be able to perform its best. There are times when a day off is called for, but there are things you can do before and after a workout to help ensure you have what it takes to make it through.
When To Take a Day Off
Before offering advice on pushing through fatigue to work out, let’s talk about how to know when you should take a day of rest instead. Sure, you might not want to take a day off, but you’ll do more harm than good if you go into a workout excessively fatigued. If you’ve been overly tired or depressed or moody for more than a day, that’s a reliable indication that you need an extra rest day. Yes, working out can actually help wake you up and even alleviate depression, but exercise as therapy for those issues will still work–likely better–if you give yourself a day off from working out first. Other signs to pay attention to include chronic muscle soreness and stiff joints, abnormal heart rate, and dehydration, according to Daily Burn.
Before a Workout
If you’ve noticed a pattern in which you feel good and ready for a workout before you hit the gym, but your energy drops fast, and you easily become exhausted, Bodybuilding.com says you can nip workout fatigue in the bud by preplanning. Since inadequate nutrition can be the cause of fatigue, their two-step solution is nutrition-based. The first piece of advice is to eat a light pre-workout meal comprised of protein and carbohydrates–and be sure to wash it down with at least 14 ounces of water to help with digestion and hydration.
The second step is a little more involved and specialized based on how you train and what type of diet you’re on. It branches into two protocols, but they’re both built on getting extra amino acids into your system an hour or less before exercise along with more water. The preferred forms of these pre-workout aminos would be free-form essential amino acids or whey protein hydrolysate with at least 50 percent (or more!) dipeptides and tripeptides to ensure quick absorption.
Outside Of the Gym
In keeping with the nutrition-for-fatigue line of thinking, eating after a workout is just as important as eating before you exercise. Workout website EXOS has done the homework on the research and says that recovery nutrition should begin within 15 to 60 minutes after a workout, and it should be a carbohydrate to protein ratio of 2:1. On top of that post-workout snack, eating a well-balanced meal of lean, healthy foods about 2 hours after you exercise will help your body continue to fight off fatigue. You’ll also need to start rehydrating immediately, drinking around 20 to 24 ounces for each pound of fluid you sweated off during your workout.
Rest is so vital for recovery and keeping fatigue at bay that three different types of rest make up half of the six top ways Men’s Fitness lists to guard against fatigue. They include
- programming recovery workouts and entire weeks of downtime into your exercise schedule
- taking sufficient time between workouts to allow for recovery
- getting adequate amounts of sleep, even if it means taking a 30-minute power nap during the day
Massage therapy is another effective fatigue-fighter, whether you shell out $50 or more for a professional massage or spend some time after a workout with a foam roller. On top of feeling heavenly, a massage encourages relaxation which will help with the rest and recuperate part of your protocol plus it increases circulation while reducing stiffness in your muscles.