How to Overcome Physical Fatigue During Exercise

Drink water to combat fatigue.

Drink water to combat fatigue.

Don’t you just hate those days when you are all geared up to work out, only to feel like you hit a wall of fatigue about 15 or 20 minutes in? Not all of your workouts will be carried out with the same level of exertion, but you can still make the most of those days when you feel less than stellar. Small actions, like eating a snack or taking a rest, can help you push through your run or strength-training session. These small tweaks to your routine can help you to maximize your time and calorie burn.

Step 1

Drink water throughout your exercise routine. Dehydration can cause fatigue and may possibly even lead to muscular injury. Consume at least 6 ounces of water every 20 minutes; increase that amount if you are profusely sweating or feeling tired and sluggish during the workout.

Step 2

Eat a small snack made up of a combination of protein and complex carbohydrates. Working out can cause your blood sugar levels to drop, which can result in feeling sluggish and sleepy. Bring food that is easy to eat at the gym or on the go. This can be an apple with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, cheese and whole-wheat crackers, or yogurt.

Step 3

Focus on your breath. Breathe deeply during your workout to maximize the amount of oxygen flowing to your muscles; a lack of oxygen can cause fatigue. Develop a breathing pattern of a three-count inhale and two-count exhale. Stop working out if you feel short of breath or dizzy; make sure you have fully recovered before continuing to exert yourself.

Step 4

Think positive and inspirational thoughts. You may be experiencing mental fatigue rather than physical fatigue, reports Running Times. Commit to completing five more minutes while telling yourself that you can do it. Continue to spur yourself on in five- or 10-minute increments until you have reached your maximum ability and threshold.

Step 5

Slow down or take a rest period for five or 10 minutes. Working out at a high exertion rate for an extended period of time can cause you to burn out. Instead, slow down your run pace to a light jog, perform a strength-training set with lighter than normal weights, stretch for five or 10 minutes, or walk at a moderate pace on the treadmill. Increase the intensity of your workout once you feel recovered.


  • Warm up for five to 10 minutes at the beginning of any workout to prepare your muscles for more intense work. Increasing the blood flow to the muscles by warming up can help to prevent early fatigue during your training session.


  • Consult with a physician before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have been sedentary for quite a while. Inform your doctor of any chronic health conditions.

About the Author

Based in San Francisco, Beth Rifkin has been writing health- and fitness-related articles since 2005. Her bylines include "Tennis Life," "Ms. Fitness," "Triathlon Magazine," "Inside Tennis," "American Fitness" and others. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Temple University.

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