Before we tackle with the topic of how to deal with being tired and exhausted at the gym, it should be noted that being completely worn out during or after an hour of exercise is usually a good thing and means that you’ve worked hard and haven’t wasted your time or slacked off.
That being said, I’ve always felt there are two different kinds of “tired” that you can experience during a workout:
The Two Kinds of Tired
First, there’s the “good tired” that comes along as a result of hard work and pressing into a certain level of discomfort during an intense workout. You want to feel this way when it’s all said and done.
Second, there’s also a “bad tired” where you feel like you were kind of doomed from the start, and exhausted before you even began to move. This ultimately makes it harder for you to accomplish much of anything during your workout.
So what we want to troubleshoot today is the bad tired, since there are actually some really good, practical options you can employ to tackle the problem. Chances are that being tired and exhausted before you even start has little to do with your workout ability.
Keep in mind, that exercise, when done consistently gives your body energy and stamina, so even if you’re tired early on, know from the beginning that it’s only temporary. As your body gets stronger and more familiar with physical activity, that exhaustion and tired feeling will eventually where off. It just takes time.
Some Practical Solutions
If you’ve been working out awhile and you still feel like you’re getting tired, you might be doing a few things wrong. Most of the solutions for this are simple fixes, so I want to list some of the most typical causes and give a solution for each one.
Again, it’s worth mentioning that if you’re new to routine exercise, you will feel beat down and worn out by it early on. That’s normal.
This article is for people who can’t seem to shake that feeling and are struggling with a kind of chronic fatigue when it comes to their workouts.
Let’s see if we can nail down some causes.
1. A lack of balance between cardio and resistance training. – This one is basic, and the answer is fairly simple. If you’re constantly weight training with no real cardio or increased heart rate, it might be wearing you out and causing some fatigue.
Balancing this out is easy. Just spend some time on the treadmill or fan bike for starters and as you get comfortable with that, branch out into more interesting cardio exercises like plyometric and metabolic training. Doing so will definitely help your energy level.
2. Boredom – Being bored of something has a natural way of making you just want to go to sleep. If you’re bored of your workout, then it’s definitely possible that it’s causing a drop in your energy level.
You might be the type of person that just hates working out, and if so, I’m not aware of a “fix” for that. You could try the following steps, whether you’re a bored workout enthusiast or just someone who hates doing it.
- Bring an iPod and listen to music that motivates you. – Having a playlist you like can really push you to work harder and give you some added motivation. If you’re not doing this already, invest in a good pair of ear buds and give it a try.
- Mix up your routine and movements. – Doing the same exercises every time you go to the gym is unhelpful in addition to being really boring. Look up new moves and mix up your routine as often as you can. If you’re getting used to something and it’s getting easy or boring, it’s time to move on to a new challenge.
- Set goals for yourself. – Maybe there’s a particular move you want to do, or some kind of physical achievement you want to accomplish. Go into your workout with the intention to work towards that goal and make it your primary motivator.
3. Eating too much before your workout. – You definitely need calories to keep yourself going during exercise (see below) but too many or the wrong kind can definitely slow you down and cause your body to tap out, with or without your consent.
Remember that digesting food uses calories and energy, so if you eat something before exercise (which burns additional calories and energy) make sure that it’s lean and very efficient. Aim for something with protein and good carbs, while avoiding fats and sugar.
4. Eating too little before your workout. – If you eat lunch at noon and don’t make it to the gym until 4:30 or 5 in the afternoon, you might need something to eat, even if it’s just a small thing before your workout. A lot of people work better on an empty stomach, but some can hardly function. If you’re the type of person that needs something to keep them going, it could definitely be holding you back during your gym routine.
Try a simple snack like yogurt or almonds, and eat roughly 30 minutes to an hour before you exercise. You don’t want a full stomach, but having a little food will help keep your energy up for a few more hours.
5. Not getting enough rest on off days. – Rest is more important to a workout than most of us give it credit for. We assume that if we’re not moving or doing something, then we’re not benefitting our body. That’s not always true.
After a hard workout, our body needs a good night’s rest and either a light day or a day off to follow. If you aren’t getting that rest, than you’re going to get fatigued, plain and simple.
6. A lack of tangible goals to work towards. – I already touched on this under boredom, but not having goals can cause you to get workout weary before you even make it to the gym. You need to have a reason for being there, whether it’s to train for a marathon, attain a certain physique or just to be healthier overall.
Think about the end result of attaining your goals and allow that to be a motivating factor for you while you’re working out. It’ll give you more energy and more of a reason to push through those difficult days where you might not feel like being there.
Anna Mathews is a professional blogger that shares tips and advice on fitness and nutrition. She writes for Fitness 19, a leadingfitness center with locations nationwide.