We’ve all heard the term ‘hitting the wall’ in running terminology but it can also be used to describe the feeling of intense exhaustion during any sport. Whether you’re training for a marathon, a weight lifting competition or a swimming gala, at some point your body will start telling you that you’re over doing it and it’s time to throw in the towel and take a much-needed rest!
What even is the training wall?
As an athlete, you’ll be pushing your body hard and you need to give it time to recover, if not, you’ll hit a training wall as your body struggles to keep up. The training wall is basically a physical barrier caused by over training. Not everyone who trains hard will hit the wall, but if you’ve experienced it, you’ll know that it feels like you’ve lost all energy and you feel like you physically can’t carry on. Endurance athletes, like marathon runners, will suffer from a feeling like they simply can’t finish their event.
Hitting the wall means your reserved glycogen levels have completely depleted. Glycogen are your stores of energy that create glucose – the main source of fuel for the body’s cells. It’s usually because of prolonged physical activity without adequately refuelling.
Training hard? Here’s what to do when you hit the wall.
Give yourself a break
Let’s start with the most obvious one first: listen to your body and lighten the load for a bit!
How much time have you spent in the gym this week? This month?
If you’ve been giving it all you’ve got for months on end and persistently feel you’re hitting the wall, chances are you’re over doing it and your body needs a rest.
If you’re committed to your fitness goals or training for a competition, taking time out of the gym may not be an option but there are still things you can do to help your body recover:
Feeling achy? Here’s how you can recover quicker!
Food is your fuel
- Reduce the intensity – try lowering the weight and aim for more reps for a week or two
- Switch it up – been hitting the squat racks hard for leg day? Give your quads and glutes a rest and switch to upper body exercises to allow your fatigued muscle groups a chance to rest and repair themselves
- Variety – switch your high impact movements to low impact for a week or two to take the pressure off your bones and joints
You’ve been training hard and what you put into your body will be what fuels your next workout. Nutrition is a huge part of your training routine, so make sure you’re not hitting the wall from over-training and under-eating (or eating foods low in the nutrients that your body actually needs).
Take a close look at your diet and make sure it matches your sport; are you a carbohydrate deprived marathon runner? Are you a weight-lifter that lacks protein? Does your diet allow for the correct amount of carbs and fats for your lifestyle? Speak to a nutritionist for expert guidance.
Look at your meals and start making a note of what you eat, when you eat it and when you train – you may simply need to rethink your meal plan and eating times to keep you going and smash your workout.
If you find it hard to eat healthily while you’re on the go, meal prepping may be the answer you’re looking for! Never tried it before? Here’s a simple guide
to healthy eating.
Training for any sport is hard on your body and taking supplements can help with performance and recovery; supplements also boost your energy and help you power through a workout when you’re struggling.
You can easily add supplements to your training program but make sure you speak to your trainer first or do some research to find out which ones are best for you and your sport.
To boost your workouts, try creatine and caffeine. For recovery use BCAAs (branch chain amino acids), whey protein and glutamine.
BCAAs and whey protein come in a variety of tasty flavours and you can add the powders to bottles of water, smoothies, or cook delicious protein pancakes with the whey protein powder!
Find the recipe and 9 other breakfast ideas for before and after your workout here.
Switch to resistance training
Try switching to resistance training for a week or two or alternate your weight training sessions with resistance training to keep things fresh and get your body moving in a different way. You’ll gain some benefits from your muscles working differently while resting them from the strain of heavy lifting!
Curious about resistance training? Here’s why TRX will become your favourite training partner!
Try different training methods
If you must train, try switching training methods to give your muscles, joints and bones a rest from heavy lifting or pounding the pavement. Try different HIIT workouts to burn fat and build muscle: this short but intense training routine will keep you sweating but it’s much easier on your body than hitting the bench press or squat rack.
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