What May Be Causing Your Exhaustion After A Workout

Working out can be great; if you enjoy it, you'll want to do it often. It causes endorphins and a rush for many people; for others, it's just a great way to reconnect with your body and release stress. Exercising doesn't have to be about a body goal — in fact, it can be harmful if you're only worried about losing weight — and working out to feel good has many benefits. However, you shouldn't feel like you will pass out or feel immensely fatigued after working out.


If you find yourself getting exhausted quickly after exercising, you want to ensure that you feed your body well and get enough sleep. Recovery time is also significant, as well as just listening to your needs. While we know drinking water is essential, certain nourishing foods or habits can benefit your workout regimen. So here's why you might feel that post-workout exhaustion and what to do about it.

You're not sleeping well or long enough

As stated above, sleep is essential. It's not rocket science to know that. However, skipping an hour here and there can add up, and not having enough sleep can impair your workout routine. Samantha Cassetty, RD, told Pure Wow that having a good sleep schedule and going into your cycle nightly (aka REM) does wonders to replenish your body and give it the strength it needs for working out and living life. "That means your heart, your brain, your blood flow, your organs—they all rely on your metabolic functioning to keep you alive," Reed said, referring to the fact that not enough sleep messes with your metabolism, which helps our cells work correctly. "And one prime lifestyle factor that is deeply tied to your metabolic functioning is your sleep."


In addition to not getting enough sleep leading to a wonky metabolism process, it also "interferes with muscle recovery ... energy levels, immune function, brain health, and more," according to Performance Lab. They write that less-than-sufficient sleep can lead to reduced accuracy and a higher risk of injury at the gym or during a workout session. This poses safety risks on top of just exhaustion. Again, working out can create endorphins leading to a "runner's high" or feeling wildly pumped and invigorated. However, once that wears off, if you haven't had enough sleep, that come-down will crash hard on your system.

You need more nutrients in your body

Eating well is vital for a good and healthy body overall. But After Clinic Hours writes that not enough nutrients or too much of bad things can mess with how your body produces energy. According to them, eating something high in sodium can add to dehydration and not be enough nutrients to keep your body running through a whole workout, especially if it's a hard one.


"When we exercise, we are also quickly burning energy and calories, depending on the intensity of our workout," Huma, a nutritionist and integrative health coach at Nutritional Balance Clinic, told After Clinic Hours. "That means we'll also need to replenish our energy to recover and reap all the benefits from our workout — with nutrients, water and rest," Huma said that eating light but nutritious food like bananas, Greek yogurt, and granola or oats is a great pre-workout snack.

As Pure Gym writes, if you're not eating enough high-quality foods, your blood sugar could be low, making you feel like you're going to pass out. This is because working out "uses up the glucose in our blood," so if you don't have enough in your body and muscles already, you'll be in a deficit when you finish.


Water, water, water

This is obvious, but water and working out go hand-in-hand. Pure Wow reported in a 2012 study that "being dehydrated caused headache symptoms, loss of focus, a sense of fatigue and low mood both at rest and during exercise." On top of that, Performance Lab wrote that "Dehydration not only impairs cognitive function, but it also affects muscle contraction and recovery." If you're going hard at the gym and don't have enough water, you aren't giving your body a chance to gain that proper rest and recovery time to function normally afterward.


To help guide how much water you should consume, Performance Lab reported that people should drink 2-3 liters of water daily. This changes when you're sweating or drinking things that will dehydrate you, like caffeine. In this state, you'd want to drink "an extra 20 ounces for each," and if you're working out, you want to drink about "7-10 ounces every 10-20 minutes."

Make the most of your recovery time

Recovery is a running theme here because of its importance. Sudden exhaustion, inability to finish a full workout, or feeling fatigued all of a sudden post-exercising can occur because your body is not ready. While rest days are important (more on that in a minute), Performance Lab wrote that there's a little more to recovery post-workout than just resting. Stretching before and after a workout, on your own, or with a foam roller would be best. You can also do other body relaxation and healing techniques like massages. They recommend supplements, but nourishing your body, as stated above, post-workout is the best thing you're going to be able to do.


To recuperate after working out, Huma told After Clinic Hours that eating plenty of proteins and carbs is a great way to feed your body and muscles. Foods like eggs, chicken, rice, and pasta are great options that'll help feed eyou properly after exercising to repair your muscles and regain the energy lost. "The food you eat within the first few minutes after a workout is one of the most important and underrated parts of training," personal trainer Lisa Reed told Pure Wow. They recommend eating 15 minutes after working out, so some good snacks to choose from, according to Reed, include hummus and whole-grain crackers, eggs, and chocolate milk that doesn't have too much sugar.

You could be over-doing it

On that note of recovery and rest days, you could feel exhausted after working out because you're doing too much. If you're into intense workouts, you're using up a lot more energy, and it takes a lot to produce more energy afterward. But even a regular workout that you do daily might be pushing your physical abilities.


Pure Gym also notes that rest days are really crucial. Even if you don't feel the exhaustion right away, if you fail to take those days off, you won't give your body enough time to recover, especially if you're doing strenuous workouts. Your muscles need to relax and repair themselves, and you don't want to overload your system with too much. They write that by taking one day off per week; you're already helping your body out. They also note that there is an importance to "leg days" or "ab days"; they write you shouldn't work on the same muscle groups twice within 48 hours.

You need to do a cool down workout after your regular workout

In the vein of stretching, The American Heart Association wrote that warming up and cooling down are vital to a healthy workout. They write that the heart works overtime during and even after exercising. "After physical activity, your heart is still beating faster than normal, your body temperature is higher, and your blood vessels are dilated," they wrote. "This means if you stop too fast, you could pass out or feel sick." This is where stretching comes in handy again because it "reduces the buildup of lactic acid, which can help prevent cramping and stiffness." And taking that time to let your body and heart cool down and rest while still in your workout session is excellent for your overall health.


"One of the biggest post-workout mistakes that I see people make is skipping a cool-down stretch or leaving before the end of a group fitness class," Jonathan Tylicki, a certified personal trainer and director of education for AKT told Pure Wow. "Stretching will help prevent soreness, relax the nervous system, promote mobility and flexibility, and even improve your next workout." Warming up is also very important since it helps open up your body to more oxygen while working out, according to the American Heart Association. Not getting enough air and oxygen in your blood and heart will make exercising harder for longer and lead to a significant crash afterward.

You could be under a lot of stress

Oftentimes running or exercising in any capacity can be freeing and help with personal issues that make you stressed or anxious. The endorphins associated with working out are enough for many people to make exercise a big part of their self-care regimen or something they do to clear their heads. However, Pure Gym writes that working out can also be a stressor. It works your heart out and can be tiring, especially if you're doing strenuous workouts. So they write that working out might only add to your feelings of exhaustion if you're really stressed or severely anxious.


As with anything regarding your health and body, checking in with yourself is a great way to know what you can and can't handle. Whether that's because of stress or because you're feeling supremely exhausted, you want to ensure you're not overdoing it. All these reasons and tips can help you beat post-workout exhaustion but knowing what is best for your body by listening to it is the most important.