In an ideal world, when chasing greatness in the gym, we’d train for hours at a time, constantly making gains, building muscle, burning fat, and bettering ourselves in the progress while barely breaking a sweat. Unfortunately, the human anatomy doesn’t work that way, and if we are serious about getting in shape, we need to know our limits. People often wonder what causes muscle fatigue, and in truth, it’s a very valid question. Understanding how the human body works can give you a valuable insight into your training as it can help identify what you’re doing right, and what you’re potentially doing wrong.
We all experience muscular fatigue in some form or another. For some, this fatigue is nothing more than a minor inconvenience that slows down their progress, yet for others, muscle fatigue can cause their workouts to come grinding to a halt. To help you understand this highly complex physiological process, we’ve very helpfully compiled this article for you to read. By the time you’ve finished, hopefully you’ll have a clear and concise understanding of what causes muscle fatigue and at how you can avoid it yourself.
What Is Muscle Fatigue?
Have you ever noticed how when you’re working out in the gym, or playing sports, how your muscles begin to feel stiff, sore, and tired? They may feel weak and devoid of any energy or power. If so, this is almost certainly due to muscle fatigue. Muscle fatigue affects individuals of all ages, shapes, sizes, and genders, and can be caused by a number of different variables. You see, physical exertion can be a primary cause, but so too can a nutritionally deficiency be, or even an injury or genetic factor.
Experts out there, have spoke in the past about how muscular fatigue can be brought on by an inability of an individual’s central nervous system, to be able to communicate with the metabolism, or a person’s muscular tissue.
The risks of muscle fatigue
If you experience muscular fatigue, you need to understand the risks and dangers associated with the condition in question.
There are many downsides associated with muscular fatigue, with some key examples including:
Loss of strength
This first downside is fairly obvious, but that doesn’t make it any less dangerous. You see, if your muscles are fatigued, they will fail to find the energy required to contract during periods of physical exertion, which basically means that you will not be as strong as you may have hoped. Not only is this frustrating in the gym, it can also be dangerous.
Say you’re attempting to lift heavy weights, but find that your muscles are fatigued, you will struggle to lift the weight and run the risk of crushing yourself with the bar, or dropping heavy dumbbells down upon yourself. Many people have injured themselves through a loss of strength during muscle fatigue, so be careful.
Another downside of muscle fatigue is the fact that it can result in less-productive workouts. In your mind, you may be ready to run for 5 miles on a treadmill, or perform 5 circuits in the gym, yet if your muscles are fatigued, you simply won’t get anywhere close to what you were hoping for. It doesn’t matter how mentally strong you are, if your muscles don’t have the energy then you simply can’t get the most out of your workout, no matter how hard you try.
Pain and discomfort
When most people suffer with muscle fatigue, they don’t just experience a loss of energy and strength, they also often find themselves in pain and discomfort. Muscular fatigue is often characterized by sore, stiff, and aching muscles, which again can hinder your progress when training and can affect your overall quality of life in the process.
Now that we’ve looked at the dangers and potential downsides associated with muscle fatigue, it’s now time to get a clearer understanding of what it is that actually causes it in the first place. Some primary causes of muscle fatigue include the following:
Lactic acid build-ups
One of the primary causes of muscle fatigue is a build-up of lactic acid. Lactic acid is a by-product of physical exertion and is initially used as a form of energy. However, as mentioned on Onsteroidslab.com, the body can only utilize so much lactate in one sitting, and once that has been used up, any that is left behind is stored in the muscles as lactic acid.
However, this creates an acidic environment in the muscles that results in muscle tissue becoming tender, sore, and stiff. It can also result in muscle spasms and muscle cramps.
Failure to warm up
You know how personal trainers, doctors, and other experts always go on about the importance of warming up before exercise? Well, there’s a very good reason for this, so it is best that you take their advice. Another incredibly common cause of muscular fatigue is failure to warm up before taking part in physical exercise or exertion. You see, if you jump straight into a workout, your muscles will be shocked because initially they were in a rested state. It’s like you suddenly being woken up in the middle of the night and dragged into a 10k Marathon while still in your PJs.
By taking the time to stretch the muscles and warm up, you help to boost circulation and nutrients to them, and you help give them a little heads up that they’re about to be put through their paces.
In order for our muscles to function as they should, we require a certain amount of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients. Some of the most important minerals for muscular health and performance for example, include things like magnesium and potassium. These minerals help ensure that the muscles perform as they should, and they help to prevent things like muscle cramps, soreness, stiffness, and fatigue. You may have noticed how people often recommend eating a banana, to an athlete that is suffering from muscle cramps and stiffness.
This is because bananas are naturally rich in potassium. Experts recommend getting a combination of vitamins and minerals from whole foods, drinks, and supplements in order to promote optimal muscle health and function.
Reduced levels of activity
While excessive physical exertion can cause muscle cramps and fatigue due to lactic acid build ups, sometimes a lack of exercise and physical activity can be even worse. You see, when people lead sedentary lifestyles and don’t get enough exercise, they may suffer from poor circulation. Oxygen and nutrients are transported to the muscle cells via the blood stream, so obviously the weaker a person’s circulation, the less oxygen, energy, and nutrients the muscle cells will be able to absorb.
If your muscles constantly feel tired, weak, and sore, try gradually increasing the amount of physical exercise you perform on a weekly basis and see if you notice any visible improvements.
What can be done to treat and prevent muscle fatigue?
Now that we know what can cause muscle fatigue, it’s now time to take a look at what can be done to help treat and prevent muscle fatigue. For starters, you can make sure that you always stretch and warm up before exercising, and that you perform a simple cool-down routine once you finish training. Getting enough nutrients in dietary form is also very important. If you do feel that you are exercising too frequently, you can try cutting back on your workouts and getting more rest and recovery.
If you aren’t getting enough exercise, you can try doing more. Massages from professionals can also be very beneficial as they can help loosen up tight muscle tissues and rid them of stored lactic acid.
Remember, in order to treat your fatigued muscles, it’s vital that you try to understand what has caused them in the first place.
So, read this article, look at your own training regime, look at your diet, and try to decide which course of action to take next.