Think about your toughest workout: How many exercises did you do? How long did your workout last? Did you eat before the workout? Did you recover properly the same day and days after?
Most people, including fitness professionals like ourselves, sometimes overdo it. While we still understand the importance of training hard, we do not always make a conscious effort to properly balance training intensity and recovery time. To help our clients maximize their workouts and results we must teach them the best ways to recover.
Fatigue symptoms and factors are different for each client. What might be overkill for one client could be exceptionally easy for another. When fatigue symptoms persist more than usual, consider extra amounts of rest periods between the next workout.
Continuous training at a high intensity with inadequate rest leads to overtraining and exacerbates chronic fatigue syndrome. Chronic fatigue syndrome is an unidentified state of extreme fatigue. There are no known reasons as to why some individuals have this and some do not. This type of fatigue normally does not get better with rest and worsens with overtraining.
Although this is not a very common syndrome, there should always be a systematic approach for the extent to which you push a client. The last thing you want as a personal trainer is to push your client to the point of no return.
Post-workout fatigue often accompanied by muscle soreness, which is simply a sign that muscle tissue is damaged and will need to be repaired to become stronger and bigger. Believe it or not, there is such a thing as being too sore and even sore for too long of a time.
Knowing how often to be sore and to what extent can help you determine the proper training loads and volume for each client. This will help you determine the best recovery methods according to the prescribed exercise intensity.
Let's dive deeper into some of the best training techniques to help clients accelerate their results and avoid suffering from excess post-workout fatigue.
Helping your clients achieve their goals is not just a result of them being in the gym. Failing to implement a pre-workout and post-workout recovery routine often leads to clients overtraining and missing the results they set out to achieve.
Preparing for a workout involves three key aspects:
Energy comes in the form of calories. The food your client eats determines how much energy their body uses and stores. Glycogen stores are a major component of fueling exercise, mostly anaerobic exercise.
Carbohydrates are the body's most efficient source of energy. The body converts carbs to glucose for immediate energy. It then stores the leftovers in the muscles and liver as glycogen.
This is important to know because the energy your client has readily available, as well as the amount stored, determines how they perform in the workout. If they maximize performance because of preparation then the body will avoid navigating into a catabolic state.
When the body does not have enough energy to supply the entire workout, it begins to search for it elsewhere. Particularly in places where it shouldn't, like muscle. The catabolic state becomes degrading and taxing on the body, which leads to fatigue.
The goal is to avoid energy depletion to help sustain a balanced post-workout fatigue. To do so, have clients consume a meal high in carbohydrates and protein 2-3 hours before a workout. It takes time for the body to digest food and have it readily available for energy. This timeframe ensures the body has not only digested the meal but also has full muscle glycogen stores.
Encourage clients to eat a pre-workout snack one hour before their workout. This ensures they have immediate energy in addition to the energy stored from the meal they ate 2-3 hours previously.
Muscle glycogen storage helps combat exercise fatigue, improves athletic performance, and helps maintain energy levels to ensure proper recovery post-workout.
Exercise itself is a stress on the body. High-intensity workouts place a great demand on the skeletal, muscular, and central nervous system.
Muscle tissue is damaged
Heart rate dramatically increases
Blood pressure rises
Cortisol levels are higher than normal
Your client might ask, how exercise can be good for them. With all the soreness, dehydration, and fatigue symptoms associated with exercise, the safety of it can easily be questioned.
The good news is that the human body is made to move. Plus, it is highly adaptable to the demands placed upon it, which is often referred to as General Adaptation Syndrome.
Determining the right amount of demand to place on each client's body is the challenging part.
Once you help clients achieve a balance between the right amount of stress and recovery, then they will achieve their goals and experience the right amount of post-workout fatigue. All while maintaining sufficient energy levels.
Stress hormones affect many systems and organs in the body, such as the respiratory and cardiovascular system. Help clients eliminate as many stress factors in their life that could become detrimental to their health and even hold them back from achieving their goals.
With increasing stress, clients can expect to have a weakened immune system, higher blood pressure, more frequent headaches, and more tense muscles. If a client is entering the gym already drained of mental and physical energy you can see how their post-workout fatigue can worsen.
Share these tips with your clients on how to avoid muscle fatigue even when exercising.
Water is the most important substance the body needs to survive. Ensuring clients show up for a workout fully hydrated will help them complete the intended workout without interruption or a need to end early.
During exercise, the body naturally loses water through sweating and breathing. Taking the necessary steps to help clients avoid dehydration during or after a workout can help them avoid major setbacks.
Remind clients to consume adequate amounts of water necessary for their body composition and level of physical activity. If your client experiences any symptoms of dehydration, take an extended break or even stop the session so they can properly rehydrate.
Water will help a client feel more energized for their workouts and ensure they have enough synovial fluid to cushion joints. Muscle is made up of mostly water and this helps lead to maximum muscle growth. Staying hydrated also helps the body naturally remove toxins and eliminate waste products including dead cells.
When it comes to recovery after a tough workout, focus on replenishing energy and using techniques to help avoid chronic fatigue and the need for anti-inflammatory medications.
One of the main ways to emphasize calorie consumption is to figure out what your client currently eats. Accommodate their current food preferences into post-workout snack ideas to make it easier for them to consume.
Provide your clients with examples of good sources of post-workout snacks. Diet and nutrient timing is important, especially after a workout. The body needs to receive adequate amounts of carbohydrates to help replenish muscle glycogen. Quality sources of protein also help with muscle rebuilding and repair.
Protein provides the body with branch chain amino acids or BCAAs, which are the building blocks of muscle. Chocolate milk and peanut butter sandwiches on whole-wheat bread are great examples of post-workout snacks with the necessary combination of protein and carbohydrates.
Hydration is just as important as food after a workout. Remind clients to consistently drink water throughout the day and especially after a workout. The body can only absorb at most, four cups of water in an hour. Chugging a gallon of water isn't to help.
Encourage your client to drink smaller amounts after a workout for the next few hours after their workout to help rehydrate. A good rule of thumb to follow post-workout is for every pound of weight lost during exercise, consume two cups of water.
Implement active recovery into your client's program to help with fatigue and soreness. This can include light cardio, stretching, and foam rolling.
Foam rolling is a great way to release muscle knots, increase blood flow and shorten the time of muscle soreness. Post-workout stretching helps increase blood circulation to the muscles, assists the body in cooling down and prevents injury in future workouts.
Eight hours of sleep each night is the general goal. Quality sleep includes adequate amounts of REM and deep sleep to ensure muscle tissue repair and recovery.
Sleep will help prevent chronic fatigue symptoms from intense workouts. During deep sleep cycles there is a surge of blood flow that helps tissue grow and develop. As clients achieve consistent sleep, they decrease cortisol and increase human growth hormone.
Cortisol is a stress hormone that is catabolic and human growth hormone is anabolic. These levels are necessary to maintain for proper recovery and energy.
Understanding the amount of stress each of your clients can undergo before experiencing too much post-workout fatigue can be difficult. However, if you can guide your clients through these techniques pre- and post-workout, you can help them find the optimal balance between training intensity and recovery.
All clients want to perform their best. But intense exercise and other factors can break down this potential over time. Personal trainers who use exercise recovery techniques in their sessions build the most holistic health and fitness programs available on the market today. Get certified as an ISSA Exercise Recovery Specialist today!
ISSA's Exercise Recovery Specialization unlocks the science behind recovery techniques. As a Certified Exercise Recovery Specialist, personal trainers can apply this information to their exercise prescription and programs, helping athletes and general fitness clients alike.