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Feeling tired after your morning workout? Here's why

Tired after a good workout


Exercising in the morning can be a fantastic way to kickstart your day with a burst of energy and endorphins. However, despite the countless benefits of early workouts, some find themselves wrestling with fatigue rather than reveling in newfound vitality for the rest of the day.

Understanding the physiological and lifestyle factors that might be contributing to post-workout fatigue can help you fine-tune your daily routine to make sure you feel energized after your workouts — day or night.

Why you might be more tired after exercise in the morning

Some people feel exhausted after an early workout for various reasons. Physical activity causes the muscles to deplete the supply of glycogen, resulting in muscle fatigue and sleepiness.

Factors such as inadequate sleep, overexertion, dehydration, poor nutrition, and lack of rest can also contribute to post-workout tiredness.

Intense training can lead to a dip in energy. In and of itself, it's not cause for alarm. Feeling sleepy after exercise is a normal response to physical activity. It can, however, also be a sign of pushing yourself too hard or not fueling properly.

Overtraining and specific health issues, such as anxiety, depression, or medical conditions, can also cause post-exercise fatigue. Get sufficient rest, eat a balanced diet, and drink plenty of water to help mitigate feeling tired after a morning workout.

Benefits of morning workouts

Working out in the morning offers various benefits that can positively impact both your physical and mental well-being. Here are some advantages:

Increased energy

Morning exercise can help boost your energy and alertness for the rest of the day. Intense exercise jumpstarts your metabolism and releases endorphins, promoting a sense of vitality.


Early workouts are less likely to be disrupted by unforeseen events or scheduling conflicts, making it easier to establish a consistent exercise routine.

Improved mood

Exercise releases neurotransmitters like endorphins and serotonin, which contribute to an improved mood. Starting your day with a workout can positively impact your mental outlook and resilience to stress.

Enhanced focus and productivity

Physical activity has been linked to improved cognitive function and concentration. Morning sessions can help sharpen your focus and increase productivity throughout the day.

Better sleep quality

Regular morning exercise may positively affect sleep patterns. While vigorous workouts too close to bedtime can make it hard to get enough sleep, a morning routine may improve overall sleep quality and support muscle recovery.

Metabolism boost

Morning exercise can kickstart your metabolism, helping your body burn calories more efficiently throughout the day. This can be beneficial for weight management and overall metabolic health.

Conserved willpower

Willpower tends to be highest in the morning. By prioritizing exercise early in the day, you're less likely to succumb to distractions or fatigue that can arise later on.

Sunlight exposure

Exercising outdoors in the morning exposes you to natural sunlight, which can help regulate your circadian rhythm and improve your mood. Sunlight exposure is also essential for the synthesis of vitamin D.

Social opportunities

Early workouts can provide an opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals, whether it's attending a group fitness class or going for a morning run with a friend.

Establishing healthy habits

Starting your day with a workout sets a positive tone and reinforces healthy habits. This can have a ripple effect on other aspects of your life, encouraging you to make healthier choices throughout the day.

Drawbacks of exercise in the morning

While exercising in the morning offers numerous benefits, it doesn't suit everyone. Early exercise sessions leave some feeling exhausted. It's essential to consider personal preferences, lifestyle, and physical condition.

Here are some potential drawbacks of exercise in the morning:

  • Muscle stiffness: In the morning, your muscles may be stiffer. This can make it challenging to perform dynamic movements and increase the risk of injury if you don't warm up properly.
  • Time constraints: Some people have tight morning schedules due to work, family, or other commitments, making it challenging to fit in a substantial workout.
  • Low blood sugar levels: After a night of fasting, blood sugar levels may be lower in the morning. This could make you feel tired and may affect the intensity and duration of your workout.
  • Reduced performance and muscle fatigue: For individuals engaged in high-intensity or power-based workouts, performance might be compromised in the morning due to lower body temperature and muscle fatigue.
  • Gym crowds: Gyms can be crowded in the mornings, leading to longer wait times for equipment and a potentially less enjoyable workout experience.
  • Circadian rhythm variations: Individual circadian rhythms vary, and some people may naturally feel more alert and perform better in the afternoon or evening.
  • Digestive discomfort: Some individuals may experience digestive discomfort during early workouts, as the body is just waking up and may not be ready for intense physical activity.
  • Sleep disruption: For some people, morning sessions might interfere with sleep quality if they have to wake up significantly earlier than usual to fit in their workout.
  • Lack of motivation: Not everyone is naturally inclined to be a morning person. For those who struggle to find motivation in the early hours, maintaining a consistent morning workout routine can be challenging.

How the time of day you work out affects energy

The time of day you work out can affect your energy due to various factors, including circadian rhythms and the body's response to exercise at different times.

Research suggests that working out in the morning could affect the genes in your muscle cells, potentially boosting metabolism and burning more calories than at other times of the day.

Additionally, morning exercising may improve how your brain responds to food cues and lead to increased overall activity. However, it's important to note that individual preferences, goals, and the body's unique response should also be considered when determining the best time to work out.

The best time to work out

The best time to work out ultimately depends on individual preferences, lifestyle, and personal goals. Early workouts have their advantages, but whether they are the "best" time for you can vary. Here are some considerations to help you decide:


Exercising in the morning can be beneficial for establishing a consistent routine. It may make you less likely to encounter scheduling conflicts or fatigue later in the day, making it easier to stick to your fitness goals.

Metabolism boost

Morning exercise can boost your metabolism, helping you burn more calories throughout the day. This could be advantageous if body weight management is one of your goals.

Energy and mood boost

Many people find that working out in the morning provides an energy and mood boost, setting a positive tone for the rest of the day. Endorphins released during exercise can improve mood and cognitive function.

Better sleep

Regular workouts in the morning might improve sleep quality. However, intense evening workouts too close to bedtime could interfere with sleep for some individuals.

Social and environmental factors

Consider your daily schedule and social preferences. Some people may prefer working out in the morning to avoid crowded gyms or to sync up with a friend's schedule.

Body temperature and performance

The temperature of your body tends to be lower in the morning, which might impact physical performance for some individuals. However, a proper warm-up can help mitigate this.

Ultimately, the best time to work out is when you can consistently commit to it and when you feel most energized and motivated.

If you're not a morning person or have time constraints, afternoon or evening workouts can be just as effective. The key is finding a routine that fits your lifestyle and allows you to stay consistent with your fitness goals.

Frequently asked questions

Why am I so tired after a morning workout?

Feeling tired after a morning workout can be attributed to several factors:

Sleep quality

You might need more sleep. Poor sleep, especially if you didn't get at least 7-8 hours of a good night's rest, can lead to tiredness after an early-morning exercise.

Fueling strategy

Not eating or drinking enough before and after the workout, especially for longer and more intense morning workouts (such as resistance training or a HIIT class), can leave you feeling worn out or sleepy.

Have a pre-workout snack like a protein bar or chocolate milk. Or, if you prefer exercising on an empty stomach, make sure you eat well after high-intensity workouts for an energy boost.

Glycogen depletion

During exercise, muscles use their stored energy (glycogen) for fuel, leading to temporary fatigue.

Nutrition and hydration

Depleted glycogen, dehydration, and poor overall nutrition, including not fueling yourself properly for a workout, can contribute to post-workout tiredness. Balance carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats to help replenish energy stores and support muscle recovery.

Proper fueling and hydration, as well as incorporating rest days and easier training days, can also help manage lactic acid levels and support overall workout recovery, which is especially important for elite athletes but beneficial for everyone.

Overtraining and rest

Overexertion, lack of adequate rest, and not allowing the body to recover can also cause fatigue after a morning workout.

To combat workout-related tiredness and sore muscles, it's important to prioritize sleep, eat a balanced meal or snack before the workout, stay hydrated, avoid overtraining, and gradually increase workout intensity.

Paying attention to the body's signals and making necessary adjustments can help you find an exercise routine that energizes you, promotes the body's ability to repair itself, and enhances muscle growth.

Is it good to sleep after exercise in the morning?

Sleeping after workouts can have both pros and cons. It's normal to feel sleepy after an intense workout due to factors such as glycogen depletion. Though you may not need to take the time out of your day for a nap, sleeping after exercise can help lower cortisol levels and aid in muscle recovery.

On the other hand, trying to combat extreme fatigue with sleep immediately after exercise can be difficult. Increased endorphins potentially make it harder to fall asleep, and it can be challenging to have a restful nap.

If you plan to sleep after exercising, experts recommend scheduling your nap between 1:00 and 4:00 p.m. for optimal performance and recovery. Additionally, for the best post-workout sleep, hydrate, stretch, and keep your bedroom cool.

Why does exercise make me tired instead of energized?

Feeling fatigued after working out can be due to various reasons. Some common factors of exercise-induced fatigue include:

  • Sleep quality: Inadequate sleep can lead to feeling tired after a workout. Make sure you get enough quality sleep if you're tired after working out.
  • Nutrition: Not eating well before or after a challenging workout can result in low blood sugar levels, leading to fatigue and reducing the muscles' ability to recover. Consuming carbohydrates and protein before and after a workout can help maintain energy levels and prevent post-workout fatigue.
  • Overtraining: Exercising too intensely or too frequently without adequate rest days can lead to fatigue and compromised athletic performance. It's essential to balance workout sessions with proper rest and recovery to replenish energy reserves.
  • Hydration: Dehydration can contribute to feelings of tiredness after working out. Make sure you're drinking water (or a sports drink) before, during, and after your workouts.
  • Individual factors: Other factors such as fitness level, diet, hydration, and an underlying medical condition can also influence post-workout fatigue.

Incorporating good sleep habits, addressing any nutritional gaps, and adjusting intensity and frequency can help minimize tiredness. If fatigue persists, consult a healthcare professional or a physical trainer to evaluate your routine and overall health.

Why do I feel worse working out in the morning?

Feeling post-workout sleepiness in the morning can be attributed to several factors. One reason is the body's low fuel supply in the morning, as blood sugar levels may be low after fasting overnight. This can lead to feelings of sluggishness and exhaustion.

It's important to fuel yourself before a morning workout with a healthy breakfast or a light snack to provide the necessary energy.

Another factor is the body's circadian rhythm, which regulates various bodily functions, including energy levels and metabolism.

Our natural rhythm can make it more challenging to exercise in the morning, as the body may still be in a state of sleepiness and lower energy levels.

Additionally, the stiffness of the body in the morning can also contribute to feeling worse after a workout. Muscles and joints may not be as flexible, increasing the risk of injury and making the workout feel more challenging.

While there are benefits to morning workouts, some individuals may find that their bodies respond better to exercise later in the day. It's essential to find a routine that works best for you and allows you to exercise consistently.

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