If you’ve been working out for a while, it can be a bit shocking when things start to get harder. Since you’ve been working out more, shouldn’t it be easier by now? That isn’t necessarily the case.
There are several reasons your workout seems harder one day and easier the next. If you’re struggling during a workout, it’s because you increased your difficulty too fast, you aren’t taking enough rest days, you aren’t eating the right things, you’re too stressed and tired, or that you’re dehydrated. All of these factors and more can impact how your body reacts to exercise.
Finding yourself in a workout routine is a great place to be. What isn’t great is when that routine starts to become a chore. When working out starts to get harder and harder, it is hard to want to keep coming back. So, it may be time to start evaluating why you started struggling when before you were thriving.
Why is Working Out Getting Harder?
Whether you’re ramping up the workload or you are stuck in a rhythm, each new workout presents its unique challenges. Some days you’re running smoothly, and the next, it feels like you can barely take a step. To figure this out, we decided to get to dig up some of the top reasons working out is getting harder for you.
You’re Trying Too Hard Too Fast or Overtraining
It can be tempting to go hard right out of the gate if you want to see some quick gains. But lifting too much or too often can cause more harm than good. The same goes for cardio. You want to give your muscles time to recover and build.
When we put too much stress on our bodies, you will begin to feel burnt out, and it will seem like you’re underperforming. When you overtrain, you overwork your muscles. When you do this, you are likely to experience chronic fatigue and even decreased motivation or performance.
This overtraining syndrome also relates directly to skipping rest days. After all, if you feel good enough, why not go for it? Skipping rest days is just as detrimental and may lead to similar outcomes. You may be more likely to be injured and lose motivation as each workout gets more and more difficult.
You’re Too Stressed and Too Tired
We have all been there. We didn’t get a good night’s sleep, or maybe we went to bed too late and woke up early. Then on top of that, there are so many parts of our life that could stress us out (work, relationships, etc.).
Not being the right headspace when you exercise can make things way harder than it should. Not only can it make the act of exercising more labor-intensive, but it could hurt your recovery as well.
Exercise is touted as a great stress reliever, but when we are under intense psychological stress, adding more stress to the body through intense exercise can make things worse. You can choose other forms of exercise like yoga and stretching that are active yet stress relieving before you jump into weight lifting and intense cardio.
You see, when our minds are distracted, we can’t focus on important things like our form or even our surroundings. Missing those cues can be potentially dangerous and may cause injury. We are more prone to tensing our muscles when we are stressed. Plus, cognitive stress can make us think we are working our bodies harder than we are.
Overall, not being cognitively present and in the moment can make our workouts seem much harder.
By now, we are aware that we should be drinking plenty of water while we exercise. However, if we don’t drink enough water before and after we workout, it can make things more difficult as well.
Dehydrated can contribute to fatigue, especially near the end of a workout. This isn’t only true for cardio, either. To get our muscles functioning properly, they need to be hydrated.
Here are some of the main reasons exercise seems harder when you’re dehydrated:
- Increased core temperature
- Inability to sweat effectively
- Improper heat dissipation
- Reduction in blood flow and blood volume
- Increased rate of muscle glycogen use
All of these side effects of exercising when dehydrated will make a noticeable difference in performance.
You Aren’t Eating the Right Things or the Right Amount
An understanding of adequate national needs is imperative for a good workout. After all, what we eat is the fuel we need to get out bodies moving. So, if we optimize our nutrient intake for success, our workouts have a better chance of improving.
On the flip side, if you’re only eating processed foods like fast food before a workout, you’re bound to feel bogged down when you exercise. Eating the right amount of food, consuming appropriate foods before and after workouts, and continuing a well-balanced diet all contribute to successful exercise experiences.
If you aren’t eating enough food during the day, you could also become lightheaded or fatigued when you exercise. All in all, you should strive to eat adequate amounts of food while still balancing your intake of healthy fats, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.
You’re Not Stretching Enough (or At All)
Stretching can help everyone, not just runners. It helps to keep our muscles flexible, strong, and healthy. If our muscles are tight, it puts additional stress on our joints and can even decrease mobility.
Stretching after a workout is incredibly important. As we exercise, we are putting stress on our muscles. Then, when we are done, our muscles are warm, but as they cool, they begin to sense up. For those of use that feel tight and sore a few hours after we workout, it could be because we didn’t stretch enough.
If we don’t stretch the right muscles, the tight areas can cause issues in other places as well. For instance, for runners, we put a lot of stress on our hip flexors. Ignoring this and not stretching our hips can cause tension in our tendons and IT band, potentially giving us knee pain.
There Isn’t Enough Variation in Your Workouts
It is easy to get stuck in a routine when you are exercising. If you only focus on one or two muscle groups, though, things may start to feel more difficult. Cross-training muscles is necessary to have a well-rounded workout and to prevent injury.
Not only that, but if we are doing the same thing every day at the gym, we are bound to get bored of it after a while. If we are no longer engaged with the activities, each movement can seem much harder.
If one day you work a target muscle group, and the next day you choose another, you are keeping your body and your mind engaged. Plus, you are giving yesterday’s muscle group extra time to recover while still getting in a nice workout.
Other than strength training, if you are a runner, it can benefit you to cross-train with other forms of cardio as well. Choosing to do activities like biking and swimming alongside your running schedule helps to keep your cardio up while giving your joints a break.
Be Patient to See Success
Exercise has so many benefits, but it is hard work. It can be easy to get discouraged when things start to become more challenging during your workout, but sometimes all you need to do is take a step back and evaluate the situation. Understanding your body and taking time to reflect on your current lifestyle with exercise can make a difference in how hard your next workout will be.