9 reasons you feel sluggish during your workout

Posted on in Industry News, News

Has this ever happened to you?

You walk into the gym feeling pumped for your group fitness class. About five minutes into the workout you’re having trouble keeping up with the rest of the class and are feeling sluggish. You felt fine before you started, what happened?

The experts at Bicycling Magazine recently interviewed Janet Hamilton, an exercise physiologist with Running Strong in Atlanta about why people start to feel sluggish during their workout. She identified nine possible reasons:

  1. You’re stressed/not getting enough sleep – working out stresses your body and stress is cumulative. If you’re having trouble keeping up, think about how your life has been lately: do you have a big project due at work? Are you getting enough sleep each night? Tracking sleep and stressors along with bad workouts may give you the data you need to figure out if stress is affecting your workout.
  2. You have allergies or asthma – your body needs oxygen so if allergies or asthma is affecting your ability to get oxygen into your body, it’s going to affect your ability to workout. If you experience coughing, wheezing, a tight chest, or shortness of breath during or immediately after cooling down you should see your primary healthcare physician.
  3. Your pH drops – your body converts carbs into fuel during high-intensity exercise. The byproducts of this conversion are small hydrogen ions. The longer you keep up a high-intensity exercise the more they build up in your system. Eventually your body’s pH levels drop and become more acidic. When your body becomes more acidic, everything slows down making your muscles less efficient. There is a plus side: the more fit you get, the better your body gets at getting rid of the hydrogen ions.
  4. You’re not giving yourself enough rest time – it drives most fitness fanatics insane, but your body needs time to rest. If you feel tired after every workout it’s going to catch up to you. Give yourself two recovery days per week as well as a couple of lighter workouts.
  5. You’re anemic – anemia is when your blood has too few oxygen-carrying red blood cells and limits the amount of oxygen your body’s cells can receive (see point 2 for the importance of oxygen).
  6. Dehydration – just like oxygen, water is important for your body’s ability to function. Your blood becomes thicker when you’re dehydrated which makes it harder for your heart to pump and get blood where it needs to go. If you sweat a lot you’re losing water and electrolytes, which are essential for your muscle cell’s ability to talk to each other and power your workouts. Make sure you’re adequately hydrated during your workouts.
  7. Thyroid issues – if you’re often fatigued not just while working out and can’t seem to find another cause it may be time to speak to your doctor and rule out thyroid issues.
  8. You’re not eating enough carbs – yes, you read that right. If you’re looking to lose weight you need to burn more calories than you’re taking in to lose fat. In order to be able to burn calories, you need to be properly fueled and ready to work. Carbs are your body’s fuel source. Try increasing your calorie and carb intake to boost your energy levels.
  9. Your glycogen is 000 – people with blood sugar conditions or who are on low-carb diets may experience low blood-sugar levels from time to time. For the rest of us, a lack of energy could be due to low glycogen levels. Glycogen is your body’s form of stored carbs. The glycogen in your muscles is usually used first when you’re working out, but when that source is used up your body turns to the glycogen stored in your liver to fuel the workout. The only way to increase your glycogen levels are to eat more carbs. Sports drinks and energy blocks are easy, fast ways to kick those levels up.

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