Are you always exhausted after working out? Does it put you off exercising? It’s normal to feel tired after a workout but extreme fatigue, where you need to lie down and sleep, is something completely different.
Exercise is supposed to make you feel good and give you energy, not leave you feeling exhausted, so if you’re constantly feeling tired after your workout, then there could be something wrong.
Why do I feel tired after a workout?
Have a look at the following reasons why you might be feeling tired or exhausted after every workout, and what you can do about it.
- Not eating enough/the right foods. It’s a common and old-fashioned misconception that if you’re trying to lose weight you should cut your calories to a minimum and exercise excessively. Hmmm, don’t do this! Food is your fuel and the more you exercise, the more you need to eat. Think about putting petrol in your car – you can’t run it on empty, and the faster you drive, the more you use – we are just the same. If we try to exercise with no fuel inside us, we will become tired, irritable, and very hungry. Eating a good balance of carbs, fats and protein throughout the day will prevent extreme tiredness after exercising, and, before your workout, eat a portion of carbohydrates such as a banana, Greek yogurt, berries and granola or an apple with some peanut butter or cheese to give you the energy you need to help you finish your workout. After exercising eat a mix of protein and carbs such as a banana and cottage cheese, wholegrain toast with peanut butter, hummus and carrot/cucumber sticks or pitta bread with chicken and avocado, to give you an energy boost, help to build and repair muscles and to replace the glycogen (carbohydrates) which have been burned throughout your workout. Just make sure not to eat too soon before your workout.
- Training at too high an intensity. If you like HIIT style workouts which are high intensity, try to keep these sessions short and include 2 to 3 a week. This type of exercise creates an oxygen deficit and produces lactic acid, both of which the body must recover and restore after exercising. Gruelling workouts can drain your energy levels, leaving you feeling fatigued, so tailor your workouts to how you are feeling, even if that means a few modifications.
- Not having rest days. It’s easy to think that exercising as much as you can, as often as you can is the best thing to do, but it isn’t. Your body needs rest days to recover and for the muscles to repair and grow stronger. Exercise causes stress to the body so exercising constantly without giving your body time to rest can lead to severe fatigue, muscle soreness and muscular strain. Try to have at least one full rest day a week and 48 hours between working the same muscle group. Try to do upper body one day and lower body the next for example.
- Not drinking enough water. Dehydration causes tiredness and fatigue. It’s important to keep hydrated whether you’re exercising or not, but exercise increases the water we lose through sweating so it’s even more important to keep those water levels topped up. Drink plenty of water before, during and after your workout. Try to drink at least 2 litres to 3 litres of water a day.
- Not getting enough or too much sleep. Sleep lets the body rest, repair and replenish used energy, so aim to get 6-8 hours’ sleep a night and try to keep your sleeping and waking times as constant as you can. Too little or too much sleep can leave you feeling tired. Then exercising when you are not sleeping properly, and already tired, can lead to exhaustion! There are many reasons why you might not be sleeping properly such as studying, going out late, caring for family, working night shifts, stress, anxiety, or the menopause. Make sure that you have a comfortable, relaxing cool room (not too hot or too cold) with light bedding and try blackout blinds to keep the room as dark as you can. Having a relaxing bath, drinking some chamomile tea, listening to some relaxing music or hypnotherapy are all things that you can do before bed to help you sleep. Make sure you turn off any phones, laptops etc at least 30 minutes before you go to bed.
- Having an illness/medical condition. Extreme fatigue and exhaustion can be due to certain illnesses or medical conditions such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis and chronic fatigue syndrome. You can still exercise but you may need to modify your workout to lessen the tiredness as it will take longer to recover. Always check with your doctor before starting an exercise programme, so that you can make exercise more manageable for you.
- Training at the wrong time of day. It’s great to train at any time of day, and we certainly don’t say that one time is better than another, but it has to work for you. You have your own natural body clock and rhythm, and you know best when you get the most out of your training and feel most energised. If you’re a morning trainer, and decide to work out in the evening, you might find that you are more exhausted and take longer to recover. Work with your body to avoid feeling overtired after your workout.
This is about feeling tired all the time. Of course, there will be times when you feel tired, and this is your body’s way of telling you that you need to rest. Listen to your body and rest and refuel when you need to. Pushing on with your workout when exhausted will not get you good results and can often leave you feeling worse. Think about whether the tiredness is happening occasionally or if it’s all the time, and try some of the solutions above.
Come and see Caroline, Hannah, Sheryl and Mel at W Fitness in Horsforth to see how we can help with your training programme, including lots of fun classes. We personalise exercise programmes specifically to your needs and goals, and this is monitored regularly with monthly reviews to make sure that you are getting the best out of your workout. We are always here to help you and, of course, have a chat 😊
Caroline & Hannah xx