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Today we’re going to be looking at what causes muscle fatigue and how to recover.
If you’ve ever found yourself sore, aching, tired, and weak after a strenuous workout, you’ll know how debilitating muscle fatigue can be.
Muscle fatigue can make you weak, it can hinder your athletic performance, it can make it hard for you to perform at your best, and it can potentially leave you susceptible to injury as well.
Needless to say, nobody wants that, which is why it’s important to do all that you can to keep your muscles in perfect working order.
Prevention is much better than cure, and in order to prevent muscle fatigue, we must first understand what causes it.
This brings us to today’s topic.
Today we’re going to be looking at the causes of muscle fatigue and how to recover.
Contained below you’ll find everything there is to know about the various types of muscle fatigue, as well as several useful tips looking at how to prevent it, and how to recover.
So, without any further ado, here’s a detailed look at the causes of muscle fatigue and how to recover.
What Is Muscle Fatigue?
To get things started, we’re going to begin by taking a quick look at what muscle fatigue is.
Now, as you can probably guess from the name, muscle fatigue is basically a natural physiological process that occurs when the muscles reach a state of exhaustion.
Muscle fatigue is described as being a ‘decreased capacity to perform a maximum voluntary muscle action or a series of repetitive muscle actions.
A fatigued muscle is therefore unable to continue functioning, even if the form of activity being performed has been altered’.
Now, needless to say, this is far from ideal for people that are looking to get more from their workouts and to continue to make progress whilst training.
Progressive overloading, for example, is a form of training that requires individuals to progressively overload their muscles and expose them to more and more strain and pressure through training.
If you suffer from muscle fatigue, it’s very much a case of the mind being willing, but the body is weak.
You may intend to lift more weight than you lifted yesterday, and you may intend to train harder than you did the day before, but if your muscles are fatigued they simply will not allow you to function adequately when training, and that’s a big problem.
What Are The Signs Of Muscle Fatigue?
Before we can look at the causes of muscle fatigue and how to recover, we’re first going to make you aware of a series of signs and symptoms of muscle fatigue, which you should keep an eye out for.
A few typical signs and symptoms of muscle fatigue include:
Often, as a result of overexertion while training, some people may find themselves suffering from muscle soreness.
Now, this is where confusion sets in because technically, your muscles can be sore, but not fatigued.
You may experience severely delayed onset muscle soreness after a particularly brutal training session a day prior, yet once warmed up and stretched out, your muscles would still allow you to perform a series of heavy working sets with weights.
If you find that your muscles are sore, despite the fact that you’ve rested them and haven’t worked them all that hard, this could be a sign of muscle fatigue.
Another sign of muscle fatigue for you to keep a lookout for is muscle twitching.
We all get muscle twitches from time to time, and the occasional muscle twitch is nothing to be alarmed about.
However, if you find that you have a particular set of muscles that seem to constantly twitch, no matter what, you may find that the muscles in question are affected by muscle fatigue.
Loss Of Strength
This is perhaps the most obvious sign of muscle fatigue of all, and it can also be the most frustrating for people looking to make some serious gains.
If you find that you’re losing strength, despite getting plenty of sleep, eating enough, getting enough rest, etc, it could be that muscle fatigue has set in.
This loss of strength can not only be disheartening, but it can also potentially result in your training suffering as well.
We all have days when we’re feeling decidedly weak, but if you find that you’re losing strength and you don’t really know why muscle fatigue could be the culprit.
when it comes to lifting heavy in the gym, one of the most important considerations that you need to take into account, is your grip.
If you have poor grip strength, it doesn’t matter how strong you feel or how much you can lift on a machine, you simply won’t get the most from your training.
If you find that, for no obvious reason, you’re suddenly suffering from a loss of grip, this could be a clear-cut sign that you’re affected by muscle fatigue.
Needless to say, if you’re unable to grip the bar, you’ll struggle to lift any reasonable amounts of weight at all, no matter how hard you try.
Yes, we know we’re looking at the muscle fatigue and how to recover, but before we get to that we first need to talk to you about muscle cramping.
If your muscles begin cramping up, either when training, before, or after, this could be yet another sign of muscle fatigue.
The occasional bout of cramping is fine, but if you experience muscle cramping frequently, it may be worth considering the fact that muscle fatigue could be affecting you.
What Causes Muscle Fatigue?
Now that you’re aware of some of the signs and symptoms of muscle fatigue, we now need to look at what can potentially cause muscle fatigue.
Muscle fatigue can be caused for a whole variety of different reasons, including, but not limited to:
Failure To Warm Up
Any personal trainer or health expert worth their salt should emphasize the fact that stretching and warming up before exercise isn’t a recommendation, it’s a necessity.
Despite this, people still fail to warm up correctly before training, and then they wonder why they suffer an injury or why their training isn’t progressing.
Basically, one of the main reasons why failing to stretch and warm up the muscles before training is so detrimental to muscle performance is because of the fact that you’re forcing the muscles to go from a resting state to a physically demanding state with no warning.
You are literally going from one extreme to another and this can sometimes result in muscle fatigue, or worse still, a painful and debilitating injury.
Lactic Acid Build-ups
Lactic acid is a natural by-product produced by the body as a result of physical exercise and exertion.
After being produced, our bodies then break lactic acid down into lactate.
Now, here’s where the science factors into the mix.
Once lactic acid has been converted into lactate, you’ll find that you release hydrogen ions within the body, which allows the lactate to be used as a source of energy.
You’re now probably all thinking that that’s a good thing, and it can be, but just wait. Once you have used all of the lactate needed for exercise, any lactate which is remaining is then stored in your muscles.
This, in turn, lowers the PH levels in the muscles and creates an increasingly acidic environment.
This can cause your muscles to feel tight, to feel sore, and it is the reason why lactic acid is responsible for muscle cramping.
If you experience muscle fatigue when training, it could simply be a result of too much lactic acid within your body.
Have you ever wondered why so many sports beverages emphasize the fact that they’re high in electrolytes?
The reason for this is because certain minerals, or “electrolytes” are needed in order for the body to perform at its best.
We need various minerals for a whole variety of different reasons, including:
- For the formation of red blood cells
- To balance and regulate hormones
- To enhance muscle function
- To speed up recovery
- To help keep PH levels in the muscles stable
- To regulate blood glucose levels
- To help prevent the build-up of lactic acid within our muscles
Minerals such as Phosphorus, iron, zinc, magnesium, calcium, and potassium are particularly important when it comes to athletic performance.
If you aren’t getting enough minerals and nutrients inside you, you may find that your muscles respond in the form of muscle fatigue, and nobody wants that.
When it comes to exercise, there are two forms of respiration.
These are aerobic respiration and anaerobic respiration.
Anaerobic respiration is what we’re going to look at now.
Again, this is where things get technical.
In order for a muscle to contract, the cells that makeup said muscle require a source of fuel.
This fuel comes in the form of oxygen.
When we have a surplus supply of oxygen, when the cells generate the energy via cellular respiration, this is aerobic respiration.
After a while, once oxygen has been used up because of your training, your cells are forced to “breathe” in a different way.
They now breathe anaerobically.
When this occurs, lactic acid begins to accumulate.
This is why lactic acid is a by-product of physical exertion.
This is why interval training or high-intensity exercise quickly eat through your O2 levels, forcing you into an anaerobic state much quicker than low-intensity exercise.
When aerobic respiration sets in, so do muscle fatigue, which will mean that your workout is now drawing to a close.
How To Prevent And Recover From Muscle Fatigue?
As we’re looking at the causes of muscle fatigue and how to recover, we’re going to finish things off today by looking at how you can prevent and recover from muscle fatigue.
Always warm-up And Cool Down
We’ve already stressed the importance of warming up before exercise, but just to make sure you know how important it is, here it is again.
Warming up before exercise is vital.
It helps to condition your muscles for what they’re about to go through, it increases muscle fiber elasticity, it boosts circulation, and it will improve your athletic performance.
Before exercise, always stretch and warm up your muscles, use Foam Roller for the target muscles, and always do the same at the end of your session.
Take Plenty Of Electrolytes
As we mentioned previously, nutrient deficiencies such as a lack of certain minerals in your diet can potentially lead to muscle fatigue.
A great way to ensure that you avoid muscle fatigue and that your muscles perform to the best of their abilities in the process is to make sure that you consume plenty of electrolytes.
You can purchase sports beverages and specially created supplements to help avoid mineral deficiencies, which in turn will help ensure that muscle fatigue does not affect you.
Get Sufficient Rest
Another very effective way of preventing muscle fatigue is to ensure you get enough rest.
Make sure that you aren’t training too frequently, and make sure you’re getting enough sleep at night.
Ideally, you want to aim for 8 hours of sleep each night, and you’ll want to ensure that you’re taking at least 2 full days off from training.
Right, and with that, we’ll probably leave it there.
We’ve looked at what causes muscle fatigue and how to recover, and now with any luck, the next time you hit the gym to train you’ll take heed of the advice provided above.
If you take on what we’ve said, muscle fatigue will be an issue that you needn’t worry about.