By Darren A Smith of booost Oxygen
Muscle fatigue is a normal side effect of exercise. It affects athletes at all levels. Fatigue is your body’s way of adapting to a training program and making you aware that you’ve reached your metabolic/physiological limit.
The body is very intelligent and will adapt itself to stresses that you put it through. So whilst muscle fatigue is not pleasant at times, it can act as a good indicator that you’re keeping your body challenged.
If you don’t suffer from delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) at some point, it may be time to shake things up with your program so that your body is put out of its comfort zone.
Reducing muscle fatigue can be achieved by incorporating some simple, yet effective steps into your daily routine.
Ensure that you’ve fuelled the body. Maintain a well balanced diet that includes complex proteins, carbohydrates, vegetables, fruits and essential oils. Pre and post training fuelling is important for muscle repair/growth. Eat at least one hour before training, have a post workout protein drink with some fast release carbohydrates within a 30 minute window period after training, and then a meal about 45 min-1 hour later. It’s not recommended to workout on an empty or full stomach. This kind of preparation will help to repair and refuel the muscles more efficiently that were broken down during your training.
Supplementation Whilst Training
Taking in amino acids in your water whilst training is beneficial for reducing muscle fatigue. Amino acids are critical in muscle maintenance, muscle repair, muscle growth and control of all of your body’s processes. Your muscles are very receptive to taking in the benefits of amino acids whilst they are being trained. Alternatively taking in aminos immediately after training can also work effectively.
It’s crucial to take in water during your workout and throughout the day. Water intake will prevent dehydration, electrolyte loss and muscle fatigue. It is recommended to drink at least 4 litres of water daily (this doesn’t include water used in tea/coffee etc). While exercising, it’s recommended to drink at least 1.5 litres to replace the water lost due to sweating. Muscles are made up of 70% water – so it makes perfect sense to keep them hydrated.
Warm up the muscle group that you are planning to train. Start your workout with some light, high rep warm up sets to allow the muscle group that you’re targeting to get some good blood flow to it. This primes it for the compound and harder work sets that you’re going to be doing.
This is very important to help with the prevention of muscle fatigue. Whatever muscle group you’re training, do some stretches involving that area in between your sets. Stretching after your workout is beneficial too, focusing on the muscles that you’ve used. Hold each stretch for 15-25 seconds.
Use correct form when exercising. Pay attention to muscle imbalances and incorrect movement patterns. If you can’t perform an exercise with proper form, then you need to either decrease your weight or modify the exercise. Improper body mechanics decreases efficiency and in turn burns more energy than necessary.
Improve your aerobic capacity. As your respiratory muscles begin to fatigue, oxygen will be redirected from the muscles of your limbs to those of your diaphragm. As your endurance increases the added boost of oxygen in your blood will keep your muscles working for longer periods of time and prevent lactic acid build-up which in turn will reduce muscle fatigue.
Allow adequate rest between workouts. Make sure the rest break is enough to catch your breath between sets. Supplemental oxygen can also help serious sports people who train hard recover quicker from exertion. When doing intense training take between 3 and 5 shots before a session, during one, if you feel you are about to hit the wall or afterwards to aid recovery. Listen to your body – fatigue is a sign that recovery has not taken place yet. Don’t train a muscle group that’s still suffering from DOMS. Wait until the muscle group is fully recovered.
Ice and Heat Therapy
This can be beneficial for muscle groups that you know from previous experience that are prone to DOMS. Apply ice and heat to the fatigued muscles. Use ice during the first two days for up to 10 mins per session. Switch to heat packs on the third day and beyond. Ice and heat therapy help to reduce muscle pain and swelling.
Light Activity Post Training
Engaging in light activity (low impact – such as walking) after training that moves your tired muscles can also reduce muscle fatigue and the onset of DOMS.