Sometimes after you finish working out you find that your legs or other muscles start to feel shaky or weak. This shakiness can be a symptom by muscle fatigue, low blood sugar, dehydration or other causes and may occasionally be accompanied by lightheadedness and nausea as well. While shakiness and muscle weakness will typically go away on their own, it is possible to expedite the process. If you've experienced shaky muscles in the past, it's often possible to lessen the effects or prevent them altogether for future workouts.
Drink plenty of water in the hours leading up to your workout. According to MayoClinic.com, you should ideally drink 2 to 3 cups of water in the two to three hours before your workout is scheduled to start. At least 1 cup should be drank in the hour before you begin exercising.
Eat a light meal or a snack approximately an hour before you start working out. If you ate earlier than this, have a small snack just before you start exercising to keep your blood sugar at normal levels. The food you eat should contain grains, fruit or other sources of carbohydrates and sugars to provide energy and prevent low blood sugar during exercise.
Bring water with you to your workout so you can continue drinking without having to stop your workout and go in search of something to drink. The amount you drink depends on the intensity of your workout and how hot it is where you're exercising. At minimum, MayoClinic.com recommends that you drink 1/2 to 1 cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes to replace what you're losing.
Weigh yourself just before you begin exercising. This weight will serve as a point of comparison once you've finished exercising, so you can determine exactly how much water weight you've lost during your workout.
Listen to your body when you start to feel tired. While strength-building and bodybuilding exercises encourage you to work your muscles to the point that you can't complete a set, don't try to push yourself further, even when your muscles are fatigued and your body is telling you to stop. Doing so can not only lead to shaky muscles but increases the likelihood of muscle and connective tissue injury as well.
Perform cool-down exercises after you finish your primary workout to allow your body temperature to gradually return to normal. This will also prevent blood pooling or uneven circulation in the muscles as your heartbeat slows to its regular pace. Once you've cooled down, sit down or otherwise rest if your muscles feel fatigued to avoid falling.
Weigh yourself again following your workout, comparing your current weight to your weight before you started exercising. MayoClinic.com advises that you should drink 2 to 3 cups of water for every pound of water weight that you've lost.
Eat a snack or light meal within two hours of finishing your workout. This time, the food you eat should contain not only carbohydrates but protein as well to assist in muscle development. Dairy, fruit, meat and nuts are all recommended to assist with recovery.
- National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse: Hypoglycemia
- American Academy of Sleep Medicine: Extra Sleep Improves Athletes’ Performance
- MayoClinic.com: Dehydration - Prevention
- MayoClinic.com: Eating and Exercise - 5 Tips to Maximize Your Workouts
- Scientific American: Why Do Muscles Tremble After Strenuous Exercise?
- Make sure that you're getting enough sleep at night as lack of sleep can negatively affect your energy levels and muscle performance. A 2007 study presented at the 21st Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies found that athletes who slept an average of 7 to 8 hours per night suffered less fatigue and experienced increased performance compared to those who did not get as much rest.
- If your workout lasts an hour or longer, you should choose a sports drink instead of water to rehydrate after exercising. This will replenish your electrolytes and elevate your blood sugar as well. While water is recommended for rehydration at most other times, adding water to your system while your electrolytes are low can actually increase feelings of fatigue and weakness because your body doesn't have enough of the essential salts it needs to function properly.
- Consult a doctor if shakiness and weakness persist for several hours or get worse as time goes by. If you are out of shape or new to exercise, talk to your doctor or a certified personal trainer before beginning an exercise program to select exercises and activities that are appropriate for your general health and fitness level.
Born in West Virginia, Jack Gerard now lives in Kentucky. A writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience, he has written both articles and poetry for publication in magazines and online. A former nationally ranked sport fencer, Gerard also spent several years as a fencing coach and trainer.