Sure, you expect tired muscles after you hit the gym, but before you even get there? Not supposed to happen. If you feel weary before you ever move a muscle, there could be several culprits involved. You may have pushed too hard during your last workout, or you could be tired all over as a result of poor diet or lack of sleep. Whatever the case, if your muscles feel chronically fatigued but you can't pinpoint a source, it's time to head for the doctor's office.
Worn out muscles often stem from overtraining, which is likely the source of your woes if you've been working out like a maniac lately. Overtraining happens when you push too hard for too long, and your body doesn't have time to recover. Besides tired muscles, symptoms include lethargy, reduced desire to exercise, weakened immune system, reduced appetite, increased thirst and diminished athletic ability. You may also feel psychological symptoms such as depression and anxiety. The fix? Take a break for at least a few days, then ease slowly back into a (shortened) routine.
Overdoing Resistance Training
While overtraining syndrome develops over time, you may be tired from just a single workout if you batter your muscles and don't give them time to recoup. Always give muscles a full day or more to rest in between resistance-training workouts, which include lifting weights, Pilates, body-weight exercises such as crunches and squats, exercise-ball moves and resistance-band exercises. And never take on more weight than you can handle. If you're not already warming up before resistance training, make sure you do so; a five- to 10-minute walk or jog will do the trick.
If you're feeling tired all over, you may not be feeding your body what it needs for a successful workout. You use more energy when you're active, so you may need to up your calorie intake if you're depriving yourself. Fluids are also vital; drink up for increased energy during workouts. Although you shouldn't eat a large meal just before exercise, get some food in your stomach a few hours beforehand. You need carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals such as iron to run at peak performance.
You may have tired muscles because, well, you're tired. You need sleep -- seven to eight hours a night, ideally. Not only does sleep deprivation rob you of the energy to exercise, it also damages your health in some ugly ways. You're more likely to gain weight, have poor memory function, have high blood pressure and get cranky if you don't get your Zs.
Nina K. is a Los Angeles-based journalist who has been published by USAToday.com, Fitday.com, Healthy Living Magazine, Organic Authority and numerous other print and web publications. She has a philosophy degree from the University of Colorado and a journalism certificate from UCLA.