Whether you’re just starting a workout routine or you’ve been in the fitness game for awhile, muscle fatigue is an inconvenience you’ve probably dealt with before. Muscle fatigue isn’t just annoying. Tired muscles hinder your progress at the gym and limit your desire to work out. Engage in the right eating and exercise practices to minimize muscle fatigue.
Create a Pre-Workout Meal
Between two and three hours before your workout, you should eat your pre-workout meal. Eat any closer to your gym time and you’ll end up with stomach cramps. Eat any earlier, and you won’t get the full impact of the nutrients while you’re working out.
Protein and carbs are your main ingredients in this pre-workout meal, but you’ll want to avoid fats. Fitness Magazine suggests whole wheat toast with bananas and cinnamon or oatmeal and fruit. Other great sources of protein include egg whites, chicken, and tuna. Brown rice, sweet potatoes, and red potatoes are great sources of carbs. Don’t forget to drink two to three glasses of water, too.
Ingest Amino Acids
About an hour before your workout, you’ll need to increase your amino acid intake. You want branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), which you can find in whey protein hydrolysate, or whey protein isolate. Many pre-workout drinks and powders contain BCAAs. Make sure you read the ingredients list so you’re not ingesting a drink with a bunch of added sugar. You can buy essential amino acids at your favorite fitness store, too.
You’ve probably heard of the athletes who give themselves an extra boost by using illegal drugs, steroids, or other unsavory practices. As it turns out, all you need is a bit of caffeine. For one thing, that caffeine gives you an energy boost, which will propel you through your workout with alacrity. For another, studies have shown that caffeine may reduce your perception of muscle pain. When you’re consistently struggling with cramps and burning muscles, caffeine may lessen the impact that pain has on your workout.
Alternate Muscle Groups
During each lifting or cardio session, focus on a different group of muscles. Many lifters choose to work out their cores one day and limbs another day, or to separate upper and lower muscle groups. You may find one of these divisions works for you, or you might develop your own lifting schedule. Within each gym session, try alternating sets so you don’t wear out any one group of muscles too quickly. Just be sure to remain respectful and not to hog multiple machines at once.
Switch up your cardio routine, too. You might not experience as much muscle fatigue if you run for a few days in a row, but you still need to work different muscles. Try biking, rowing, or climbing stairs as a break from running. The elliptical machine is a great low-impact cardio machine if your joints have been feeling off, too.
Leverage Fitness Apps
Keep track of your workouts with fitness apps like Stronglifts 5×5 or Nike+ Training Club. Track your overall progress while you’re at the gym using a smartphone with a powerful battery so your reps, heaviest lifts, best times, and longest distances will be at your fingertips next time you work out. That way, you won’t push yourself too hard or tire yourself out. The most disappointing thing after a great workout is waking up the next day and realizing you’re far too sore to go to the gym again.
Remember to Cool Down
A low-impact recovery is essential to minimizing your muscle fatigue after a workout. Hop on the treadmill and walk for 10 minutes, or engage in your favorite short yoga routine. A few sun salutations are a great way to cool down after your workout. Keep hydrating, and don’t forget to eat within an hour.
Each day at the gym is different, so don’t feel discouraged when you don’t have an ideal day. Monitoring your nutrition and working out with a plan will help with muscle fatigue, so you can have fewer frustrating gym days and more excellent workout sessions.