3 Reasons You Could be Exhausted without Even Training

by Matt Weik

It’s obvious that when training hard, you should be completely exhausted. If not, you’re probably not training hard enough. However, what does it mean when you haven’t even trained for the day, yet you’re completely wiped out and exhausted? Maybe once in a while it could be considered a fluke, but what about if it’s every day? This article will give you some reasons why you could be exhausted without even training, and how you can fix the problem before it causes negative health consequences.

1. You’re not getting enough quality sleep

We live in a world where we are always on the go. We have projects and deadlines to meet for work. We have kids to pick up after school. We have projects to complete around the house along with the usual cooking of meals and doing laundry. It seems like we burn the midnight oil more times than we don’t. Unfortunately, if you think you can function off of a couple hours of sleep each night, you’re wrong.

Regardless if you feel refreshed when you wake up, cutting the hours sleeping short will set you up for disaster. This causes you to feel sleepy, unproductive, and consumed by a daily brain fog that is slowing you down every afternoon. And unfortunately for bodybuilders, due to their sheer size, sleep apnea is a real concern. If you feel as if you might be suffering from sleep apnea, it’s best to go get tested and if you’re found to indeed suffer from it, they will more than likely have you use a CPAP machine to make sure you are breathing properly when sleeping and taking in enough oxygen.

To ensure you get enough sleep each night, schedule a time that you want to be in bed each night and stick to it. No, you don’t have a curfew or bedtime like you’re a child, but having a schedule will help you get into a routine so you have healthy sleep patterns on a nightly basis. Strive for a minimum of seven hours of sleep each night. Keep your room cool and as dark as possible. And don’t forget to turn your phone on silent. You don’t need to be hearing it ding or buzz throughout the night with information and status updates that mean nothing to you at 2am. You can figure out what fires need to be put out in the morning if there are any.

2. You might be overtraining

No one likes to think they are overtraining—after all, we strive to push ourselves every day in the gym. However, sometimes we just aren’t giving our bodies enough time to rest and recover properly. This generally comes after weeks of hitting it hard and pushing our bodies to the limits. Not allowing the body to fully recuperate from intense bouts of training is never a good idea. This causes more harm than good. Some people say overtraining is all in your head and doesn’t truly exist, I for one, truly believe it exists—but only those who are borderline addicted to exercise (exercise dependent).

Overtraining causes a stress response and results in a number of biochemical responses in an effort to have the body protect itself from damage. Some of these responses include having the body shut down certain processes which in turn can create the feeling of extreme fatigue.

In order to combat overtraining, make sure you are getting enough rest between training sessions and not hitting a muscle group on consecutive days. Also, listen to your body. Those of us who enjoy training and the bodybuilding lifestyle think we should never skip a workout, but I’m here to tell you that you aren’t going to lose any of your gains by simply skipping a day at the gym. Obviously, if this becomes a habit it may, but skipping a day here and there to rest and recover can be just what you need to fully recover so you can get back after it in the gym without feeling run down and exhausted. Listen to your body.

3. Your calories might be too low

It’s common for bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts to diet throughout the year—especially if they compete. But, dropping your calories too low can cause your body to shut down certain processes similar to if you were overtraining, leaving you feeling fatigued all day long. Unfortunately, there is no set number that will cause this, as everyone is different when it comes to how caloric restrictions affect them and at what point. Some individuals are extremely sensitive to changes in caloric intake while others can have huge swings in calories during a given week and not be affected at all.

One thing to look at is your carbohydrate intake. The brain loves carbohydrates and when they are low or absent, it can become a little cranky—causing you to also have swings in mood and energy levels. Now, I’m not saying to grab the closest candy bar to feed the brain the glucose that it is demanding from you, but keep your calories in check. You can trick the brain by feeding it fats in the form of natural nut butters or nuts themselves. This should be enough to get you out of a mental fog or even headaches that might occur due to restricted calories.

You may even need to play with your diet slightly if you feel your calories might be the cause of your fatigue. Tracking your nutrition through the use of an app, such as MyFitnessPal, will give you a good idea of where your calories are on a daily basis. If they are way too low, you can adjust accordingly. While it’s necessary to be in a caloric deficit in order to lose weight and body fat, there comes a point where you’re putting too much stress on your body and its processes when you aren’t supplying it with the proper adequate nutrients that it needs to function optimally.