Fitness Articles

8 Exercise Energy Zappers

How to Beat Your Mid-Workout Slump

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The scene seems right. An up-tempo song blasts through the speakers around the room. All around you, people race on the treadmill and grunt as they lift weights. An upbeat personal trainer stands nearby, ready to assist at a moment’s notice. Something is not right, though. You're partway through your workout, and you’ve hit a slump. Is it a crash in motivation? Are you low in energy? Maybe just distracted?

Mid-workout slumps happen to even the most committed exercisers. Learn how to avoid these feelings so you can push through and get the most of your workouts instead of heading to the locker room early.

Eat for Energy
A well-balanced diet is necessary for any healthy lifestyle, but it becomes increasingly important when you're exercising. If you start to crash mid-workout, what you did or didn't eat beforehand could be to blame. Proper planning of your meals and snacks will give your body steady fuel. On days that you plan a heavy workout, you might need to eat even more before you head to the gym. Read What to Eat Before a Workout to learn how to stock up on the “good stuff.”

Don't Skimp on Carbs
Long distance athletes are known to “carb load” in the days leading up to a race, because the human body relies on carbohydrates for energy. In fact, carbs are your body's preferred source of fuel, powering everything from your brain to your muscles. Most people fear carbs, but they've gotten a bad rap. Make sure you're meeting your body's needs for sustained energy all day whether you're workout out or working at the office.

Pump Iron
Iron is a trace mineral that helps blood carry oxygen to the muscles throughout the body, keeping them powered up during a workout. In general, an iron deficiency can also lead to sagging energy levels. Women are more likely to experience low iron levels, but if you suspect your body is low on iron, talk to your doctor. A simple blood test can determine if iron is an issue, and your doctor can help you get back on track. You'll find iron in lean red meat, fortified cereals, and leafy greens, but steer clear of supplements (unless recommended by your doctor) because too much iron can be toxic.

Drink Up
Dehydration is another possible cause of “hitting the wall.” When you exercise, sweating cools your body down, but it can also be detrimental if you're not replenishing the fluids you lose. That means drinking some water before you start your workout, taking a couple of sips of water every 15 to 20 minutes, and enjoying a tall glass of water once your exercise session is over. The key is to drink even before thirst sets in because by the time you recognize you're thirsty, you're already on your way to dehydration.
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About The Author

Nicole Nichols Nicole Nichols
Nicole was named "America's Top Personal Trainer to Watch" in 2011. A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, she loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Her DVDs "Total Body Sculpting" and "28 Day Boot Camp" (a best seller) are available online and in stores nationwide. Read Nicole's full bio and blog posts.

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Member Comments

  • Good article. - 9/11/2013 5:34:03 PM
  • Thanks. Good info. - 5/16/2013 7:32:51 AM
  • So far, the only slumps I've experienced have been banished by just getting myself TO the gym. But these are good tips if I ever find myself flagging AT the gym. - 5/15/2013 6:25:59 AM
  • I agree with everything apart from the bit about needing to eat carbs. I have been on many, MANY 6 mile runs and I eat low carb. I've never felt more energetic and full of life. You don't need to eat carbs before a workout to feel energised. But thanks for the article anyway, very informative. - 5/15/2013 4:28:19 AM
  • I sometimes feel that and I just say push through it or get my mind off it. - 10/5/2012 1:08:42 PM
  • ROSEJ1912
    I agree with most of this article, but I could not agree less with Coach Nicole, and Sparkpeople in general, about carbs. Nicole is correct that your body burns carbs for energy and that carbs are the body's preferred source of energy. However, if you eat carbs before your workout, you will ONLY be burning off the carbs, not body fat. Not great if you're trying to lose weight. If you want to lose weight, drop the carbs and your body will use excess body fat for energy. - 9/20/2012 3:20:30 PM
  • Very helpful. - 9/2/2012 1:10:01 PM
  • Great advice. My husband and I have different needs when it comes to pre-exercise, so it is important that my husband eats before we hit our exercise routine. - 5/28/2012 8:04:54 AM
  • I find I'm losing energy quickly through improper breathing technique. Especially when sparring, I tend to hold my breath. Yoga is helping me to be more aware of my breathing. - 1/27/2011 8:51:46 PM
  • i exercise after work and it really takes my mind off the office crud. i liked the suggestion to vary your routine to avoid boredom -- i've found that to be really helpful too! nice article nicole - it's good to be reminded what to stay focused on to get a better workout! - 8/10/2010 10:39:36 PM
  • I completely disagree that it's silly to think that stress doesn't interfere with exercising - I think this article is spot on. On days that I'm very stressed out, thinking that I want to exercise just seems like one more task on the neverending list of things I want and need to do. I think she makes a great point.

    - 6/10/2010 8:20:02 PM
  • Someof this info is in total opposition to newest info that we lose more weight and gain more muscle if we exrecise on an empty stomach. I agree that rest is essential. But, since we exercise to reduce stress, what's this nonsense about reducing stress so we can exercise better is plain silly - 6/10/2010 10:34:27 AM
  • The section dealing with the effects of stress could have been written particularly for me cos life at my place is chaotic at the moment with renovations, repairs, breakdowns, you name it and its gone wrong.
    This past few weeks (co-incidentally since all this started to happen round me) I've been battling with an acute lack of motivation to exercise. All that beating myself up mentally about it and now I find out it wasn't just because I was lazy!
    Thank you for promoting this article, I feel so much better already. - 6/10/2010 4:51:09 AM
  • I'm so easily get bored, I tend to changed my cardio program once a week. With no access to gym, I have to use limited sources but it's fun to make up a program. Must be my personality of like to change things too often, haha - 6/10/2010 1:28:24 AM
  • what a nice peice of article.In fact i have been experiencing similar fatigue and crisis, i realised where i was going wrong thanks to this article.. - 6/10/2010 12:31:34 AM
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