We all know rest is one of the most important ingredients for success, but what happens when you’re tired and don’t feel like training? I find myself in overtraining, impending sickness, or even as a result of a late night out.


The question remains: should you train when you're tired? 


Rest is a vital part of helping your muscles recover, and there is definitely evidence to suggest that there is an increased risk of injury if you train tired - but there is also evidence to show that (if done properly), training through this slump can result in a better performance. There are also obvious psychological benefits that come with understanding how to deal with fatigue and pushing through it.

 

The next question is how do we get through our workouts when we are tired? Planning is key!


Planning your workout time:

The timing of your actual workout can have a huge impact on how you feel during it. Most advanced trainers have discovered through trial and error a time of the day that works best for them, but for everyone else work or family commitments mostly dictate their workout times.


The best time to hit the gym is generally when you are the most awake. For some people, that will be first thing in the morning, for others it will be in the afternoon or evening. However, don’t be afraid to be flexible every once in awhile!


Planning your actual workout:

Too many people get obsessed with a certain type of workout and workout plan. They stick religiously to the same workout because they heard it was the way to go or it’s worked for them in the past.


This approach can be really dangerous as you need to be building in variety to your workout plans. Variety doesn’t mean changing your routine every week, it’s more about changing your routine every 6-8 weeks.


Recovery refers to putting in a recovery week after you finish each 6-8 week cycle or even every 4th week.

 

This recovery week can have the same exercises as you normally do, just drop 1 set per exercise; instead of doing 4 sets of squats, you only do 3 sets for that week with 50% of the weight!


Getting in the zone:

So you’ve done all your planning and you’re still tired before working out? Try my favorite methods to get in the right mindset to train! :

  1. Workout pick me up - Try eating something before you train. A BCAA drink or a coffee could give you just enough of a perk up to push you through that early morning workout. Other options are foods that have a low GI, such as an apple or banana before working out.

  2. Pre-workout Power-up - Sometimes all you need is a quick series of exercises to wake you up. Yoga is a great choice here, go through a simple yoga circuit to energize yourself and get in the zone!

  3. Get more sleep - as a minimum you want to be aiming for 8 hours a night. Some people actually function better on less sleep, and others need more. If you’re getting 8 hours of quality sleep and you’re still tired, try sleeping a bit more and see if it helps.

  4. Have a look at your diet - most people don’t realize the impact certain foods can have on how they feel. Certain body types just can’t handle foods that others eat all the time. It’s possible your diet is making you feel tired and sluggish, even though the foods you eat are fitness staples.

  5. Don’t be afraid to change your diet up a bit and see if you feel better!