If you’ve ever experienced fatigue or soreness after a workout, you know how frustrating it is. Not only does it reduce your motivation for the next time, it can also impact the rest of your day including how productive you are at work. The good news is that preventing workout fatigue is pretty straight forward.
Before we jump into that, let’s take a quick look at what causes workout fatigue in the first place. The first reason your muscles get excessively tired or sore is if they are not receiving the right kind of nutrients to fuel them. With every rep, they are being exerted and need the requisite source of energy to keep going. The second reason is that your body builds up metabolic waste while you workout. If the metabolic waste is not flushed out, your body begins to tighten up and resist additional motion. This can cause further injury if you keep going as your muscles are less flexible.
As you might imagine, you can prevent workout fatigue by improving the quality, quantity and timing of your nutrition intake to make sure that your muscles are getting what they need; and by reducing the build up of metabolic waste in your body. Here are three ways in which you can do this:
1. Fuel your body right: while there is a lot of debate about the specifics of exactly what you should eat before and after your workout, it’s pretty clear from the research that a mix of protein and carbohydrates leading up to the work (a meal about 2-3 hours before and a snack or smoothie about 1 hour before) followed by a mix of protein and some fats after the workout (about 30 minutes after) are ideal. The exact amount of protein, carbs and fats will depend on your weight, workout regime and metabolism (more on that coming soon). You should also try to drink between 12 and 16 ounces of water in the 2 hours leading up to your workout.
2. Get enough rest between workouts: when you allow your body enough time to rest, it naturally rebuilds muscles and clears out metabolic waste. Working out 3-5 times a week is ideal with 1-2 days of rest between each workout. Grouping your workouts by muscle groups (e.g. shoulders and chest, back and arms, legs or push, pull, legs and abs) is a great way to make sure each group has time to recover between workouts.
3. Work-out for 30-45 minutes: a lot of people suffer from fatigue and soreness because they are working their bodies too hard. You should aim for 30-45 minutes at the gym as your upper limit. If you’re doing a modality like HIIT, sprints or running up hills, this can be even shorter and you will get a lot out of it. Push yourself to your limits, but be careful not to cross them!
So there you have it! Treat your body right by eating nutritious foods at the right time and make sure you get enough rest. Over exertion slows you down and is counter-productive in helping you reach your goals!