How tired should you really be after a workout? Find out in this article.
This is an interesting question. Not because it's a hard one to answer, but because continually being exhausted isn't necessarily a sign of good workouts, it's a sign of bad workouts. Let me explain.
Have you ever played a competitive sport, run a race, our seen someone after they've done one of these? You know that after a competition, you've given it your all and are most likely completely spent. Your muscles are on fire, your lungs are burning, and sometimes, you may even become nauseated. Now this may be an extreme example of exhaustion, but it's a common occurrence when you've worked so hard for an extended period of time. What happens after a competition where you feel like this? Does a football player play another game a day or two later? Does the typical marathon runner run another marathon the next day? I think you know the answer, so when talking about exhaustion after workouts, it's safe to say that you need to take a break in between workouts. Just like you give your body a break after an exhausting competition, you need to give your body a break after an exhausting workout.
Now where am I going with this? If you're working out 5 days per week, or even 3, you aren't really giving your body the kind of rest it needs after a workout that leaves you exhausted all day. It's one thing to be tired for an hour or so after a workout, it's a completely different thing to be tired all day.
So what does this mean?
Are you going to start taking more days off in between workouts? If you don't, and you continue to perform exhausting workouts day after day, you're going to burn yourself out and can even get hurt. Basically, you're overtraining. Also, you probably aren't doing the right things outside of your workout.
Feeling exhausted all day long after a workout is not a good thing, it's a bad thing. Remember that. If you're new to working out, then it's a little more acceptable because your body is trying to adjust to a new lifestyle, but it still isn't the greatest thing. Day-long exhaustion shows a couple of thing.
One, you probably worked out on an empty stomach. You need to eat a little snack of carbohydrates before all your workouts. Carbs equal fuel, and you need this to avoid feeling run down. I always suggest fruit: carbs for energy and antioxidants for better health.
Two, you probably don't drink enough water. Drinking water throughout the day and every 10 minutes during your workout will help prevent the dehydration crash that can result. Dehydration equals exhaustion.
Finally, exhaustion can be a sign of overtraining. If you work out so hard that you start causing excessive damage to your body, you're going to feel exhausted all day long after the workout. This is why athletes recover after competition, to repair the damage done to the body. If you continually perform exhausting workouts without this recovery, the damage will start to accumulate until injury results.
So my advice: a carb snack before your workout, a carb & protein snack within 30 minutes after your workout for energy replacement and muscle repair, drink water before, during, and after your workout to avoid dehydration, and don't overdo your workouts. Push yourself in your workouts, but don't push yourself to the point that you're exhausted all day afterward. Lower the intensity just a bit, and you should avoid this exhaustion.
Feeling tired after a workout is normal and good, but feeling tired throughout the entire day is not good and can be harmful. Make a few changes to your program, and you're right where you need to be!
Dan Falkenberg, BA, ACE-CPT, NASM-PES
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