You hit the weights, put in the work, and push yourself to your limit. The workout is done, and you may think the hard part is complete. The sweat and energy exertion seem to be the most crucial part of the actual workout. We wear muscle soreness and fatigue as a badge of honor and an indicator of successful exercise. Something we fail to remember is that post-workout recovery is just as important as the workout itself. Instead of dealing with post-workout fatigue, let's discuss what causes fatigue and how to combat it.
What is fatigue?
When we hear the term "fatigue," we often associate it with feeling physically tired. Fatigue occurs on two different levels: physical fatigue and mental fatigue. Both forms of fatigue are common symptoms post-workout and can negatively impact our results. Let's define each type of fatigue and delve into their causes.
First, we'll tackle the more commonly known fatigue in the exercise realm: physical fatigue. That physical fatigue we feel after a hard workout is called peripheral fatigue. When your muscles are tired from lifting weights, or your legs are tired after that run, that is the peripheral fatigue we are referring to.
The other type of fatigue you probably experience more in everyday life is mental fatigue. Mental fatigue or central fatigue is that feeling that is harder to shake. Your head is not in the game, which impacts your ability to complete your next workout or activities throughout the day. Physical and mental stress taxes our central nervous system, resulting in central fatigue.
How to prepare for post-workout fatigue
Sometimes, post-workout fatigue is inevitable for those who participate in physical exercise. When you push yourself through training or have a long day on your feet, fatigue in either form is to be expected. Although fatigue is a common result of an active lifestyle, there are ways to prepare for it. How quickly your body recovers after exercise starts far before the activity. To properly prepare for post-workout fatigue, you must implement a solid pre-workout routine.
Your pre-workout routine should include a solid warm-up routine paired with proper hydration and nutrition. Allowing your body to ease into a workout and prepare your muscles for an activity will impact physical fatigue post-workout. Giving your body the nutrients needed to complete a workout will relate to how tired you feel afterward. Hydration is key to successful training and can positively impact your active life.
How to combat post-workout fatigue
After the workout is complete, the healing process begins. Whenever you are active, specifically through exercise, you damage the muscle fibers, decrease the range of motion, and cause inflammation and swelling in the muscle. Ultimately, you break down your muscles and are likely to be sore, immobile, and relatively weak for the next few days. After your workout, the proper recovery routine is vital to combat post-workout fatigue. Energy replenishment, rehydration, and sleep are the building blocks of a successful recovery routine.
Directly after activity, your body needs to restore its natural energy source - glucose, and your muscles need to repair themselves with amino acids. Drinking a post-workout supplement or shake with amino acids and complex carbohydrates will give your body the tools needed to recover properly. In addition to these nutrients rehydrating your body post-workout will aid in your recovery process.
Amino acids and post-workout fatigue
Amino acids, specifically Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs), help reduce central and peripheral fatigue. BCAAs can help increase your exercise capacity during depleted muscle glycogen - glucose stored in the muscle for energy. BCAA supplementation is even more beneficial for those engaging in prolonged exercise or exercising while in a fasted state. If you work out first thing in the morning, or are on an intermittent fasting or ketogenic diet, this is you.
While exercising, your energy needs to deplete muscle glycogen. What exactly is glycogen? Glycogen is the main energy source during exercise and is stored in your muscles and liver. During exercise, these glycogen levels decrease due to your body breaking it down into glucose for energy. The longer you are active, the more glycogen stores are depleted in your body, and the more tired you feel.
You will not be able to give the same performance you normally would if your glycogen stores were at capacity. Amino acids help counter those effects of depleted glycogen stores because BCAAs can be converted to glucose for energy if needed by the body. The amino acid Arginine helps remove ammonia to reduce physical fatigue from being active.
When you are active, your body releases fat to burn, which increases the amount of free tryptophan in your body. Tryptophan is the precursor to serotonin -- a neurotransmitter that brings on central/mental fatigue. BCAAs compete with tryptophan to produce serotonin. The more BCAAs you have, the less fatigue you may feel. Supplementing with free-form BCAAs, like those in aminoVITAL, can help balance the extra release of tryptophan and counter the fatigue brought on by activity.
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