Struggling with your workout? Find out why …

by Ali on October 22, 2008

Have you ever had a day when your workout just seemed tougher than usual? Maybe your ten minute warm-up stint on the exercise bike had you feeling worn out, or you couldn’t manage as many reps as usual on the weights. Before you start blaming yourself for being “lazy”, here’s some factors you might want to have a think about:

Water

Did you drink enough before your workout? It’s not enough to just drink water during your gym session – you need to be well hydrated beforehand, too.

Being dehydrated can severely hamper your athletic activities, slowing you down and making it harder to lift weights. Exercise requires additional water, so be sure to hydrate before, during and after exercise.
- 9 Great Reasons to Drink Water, and How to Form the Water Habit

Fix it: If you’re hitting the gym at 5.30pm after work, try having an extra glass of water at around 4 – 4.30pm. Take a big bottle of water into the gym with you and sip from it regularly.

Food

If you feel as though you’re lacking energy – and especially if you feel faint or dizzy – you might not have eaten enough. Remember that you need to eat a snack an hour or so before working out, to make sure you’ve got some energy for your body to burn!

Pre-exercise meals are important to be sure that you have adequate energy and that you get the most from your activity and do not experience undue fatigue.
- Eating Around Your Workout Schedule

Fix it: Have a pre-gym snack (around an hour before your workout usually works well), or exercise within 3-4 hours of a good-sized meal.

Sleep

Feeling exhausted during your workout might be a sign that you’ve not had enough sleep. If you’re yawning the day away at your desk, dragging yourself to the gym can help wake you up – but you might not be able to perform at your usual levels.

Without adequate sleep (eight hours a night), there is not enough rest for muscle cell growth and repair. In fact, when you sleep, growth hormone is produced and protein synthesis in the muscles occurs.
- The Importance of Sleep

Fix it: Make sure you get an early night the day before a workout. If you do sleep badly, go easy on yourself in the gym – it’s better to do your session at a slightly lower intensity than to not go at all.

Health

If you’re feeling under the weather, your ability to exercise is likely to be diminished. Jogging on the treadmill probably won’t help that nagging headache, either. Most experts say that you can work out if you have “above the neck” symptoms (stuffy nose, sore throat, etc) but not if you have “below the neck” symptoms (chest congestion, upset stomach). You also shouldn’t work out if you’ve got a fever.

If you’re not feeling well but still want to exercise, reduce the intensity of your workout and listen to your body. If your symptoms worsen with exercise, stop and rest. Missing a few days of exercise isn’t the end of the world.
- Exercise and illness: should you exercise when you’re sick?

Fix it: Don’t be afraid to skip your workout for a few days if you’re ill: it’s more important to recover quickly and fully than to force yourself through a gym session when you’re feeling awful. Try taking a gentle walk instead.

(Image above by The Yorkshire Rambler)

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