T Nation

Confused - Feeling Run Down


I could use some advice. I don't know what is going wrong at the moment. I always love training, but recently I just have NOT wanted to go to the gym. My strength is way down on all my lifts too. At first I figured okay, my body just needs a break. So I took 3 whole days off completely and even let myself eat a lot on them. I was also craving junk even though I normally do not, so I actually gave in and 2 or 3 protein bars (my favorite junk food!) and a bit of chocolate. I figured this should solve things. I also got 8 hours of sleep each night.

So I finally went back to the gym yesterday and my lifts were worse and I felt so lethargic! So I thought maybe I needed carbs. So yesterday I ate almost 200 g of carbs (double my normal intake). I then also didn't set my alarm. I slept 10 hours straight! I woke up and did not want to go to the gym at all STILL!! I went anyway. My back lifts were okay, but everything else sucked, and I felt ravenous and weak. I've eaten a normal diet today except for just now - I ate my normal dinner and was just sill HUNGRY. So I ate more.

But I am worried - I have gained fat visibly and my waist went up 1.5 inches (much more than normal swelling that occurs when I eat more) in the last week even though my weight has stayed constant. It's like my body is recomposing for the worse!

I don't know what to do. I don't know whether to try taking MORE time off since that didn't seem to work, or if I need to just push through and force myself to eat and workout normally even though I'm dragging....I am just not sure. I hate feeling this weak and I hate seeing my body comp. go down the drain! I just don't know what to do to best fix it.

Any suggestions please??


3 days off to me is not enough if you are nearing an overtraining state. Take a week off the gym, don't even look at it. Eat according to however you choose to, but allow yourself some leeway. Go out and see a movie, whatever, relax and enjoy yourself. Recharge the batteries and get back to it.


Three days isnt long enough to recover from the state you are currently in. Take an entire week off. Do some LIGHT, steady state, low impact cardio maybe every other day. Load up on the BCAA's and fish oil and eat your normal clean diet. Get as much rest as you can, take naps when you can, dont sleep with the tv on, close the curtains, and leave your alarm and cell phone off. Try to get your mind off of lifting. Going and training in the state you are currently in is only going to make it worse.


Hey Sarah!

we've all had those days.

maybe you are low on iron and maybe you are just more stressed and busy in your day to day life than you realize. Dehydration also causes fatigue. Drink a lot of water.

I think you need to plan to take the days off. So you don't feel in the back of your head that you are slacking. Plan it like a vacation and enjoy the days.

Then just go back for a quick lower body workout and see if that helps.

Read Shugart's post in the Author's lockerroom about "Where I am Now" he talks about having those kinds of moments.


Take a 1-2 week break.


In a beginner, overtraining can be overcome in taking a day or 2 off. The more advanced you become the longer and harder it is to recover. The amount of time for your recovery will depend on the normal length of your loading cycle.

A beginner using heavy loads every workout can just take a workout off. Obviously that's not working for you. If you are on a 1 week cycle, like most intermediate programs, reduce load for 1 week, If you are on a 4 week cycle, reduce for 4 weeks.



Your body needs more recovery time than you are currently giving it.

As has been mentioned, take more like a week or two off. I'd suggest not lifting at all for a week, then taking a week for light work and light cardio.

eat well but don't just stuff yourself. Get well rounded meals, plenty of sleep, stretch, and take it easy on stimulants.

Your body is just overwhelmed it sounds like, much like your mind can be when your schedule goes crazy and stresses you out.

You just need rest and you'll be fine.


Thanks so much for all your replies. I am just so worried - I checked my measurements since it's Sunday again, and my BF went up an ENTIRE mm!! How is that possible in just 4 days? My diet hasn't been spot on like normal (I ate a few energy bars and also 200-300 extra calories almost each day). My weight was up 1 lb too. When my body starts doing this I feel like I need to workout more!!

Do you think it's just temporary or have I really gained that much fat in just 4 days?

Thanks so much!


You are going to naturally fluctuate a few pounds. Don't get upset over it. The best bet is to get a good baseline diet (See John Berardi), a good baseline workout (Starting Strength) and a reasonable cardio program. Exercise is the great normalizer. If you're over-fat you will get lighter, if you are under-muscled you will get heavier. Do that for a couple of months. Don't get on a scale. See what happens and adjust from there.


felt the EXACT same way as you did. i tried to stick it out, take more EC, eat more carbs...nothing helped. i eventually over worked my RC muscles and got a bad case of bencher's shoulder so i ended up having to take a full 2 weeks off. got back in the gym the other day and felt just great, right back to normal. i would recommend starting with less weight when you first go back to avoid injury tho!

good luck


Thanks. It is so weird since I really didn't do anything crazy in the gym last week. I don't know how it added up. :frowning: I have stopped using any Spike or caffinated drinks which I have on occassion. Maybe that will help too.

Can BF measurements with calipers really vary by a whole mm just due to regular fluctuation? That really worries me!


the thing with calipers is that there is a lot of room for human error...all you can do is really trust the person who is taking the measurements


Yeah, I am the one taking them - the calipers make a little click when the pressure is right so I think they are accurate. I have been always getting readings of 1-2mm on my abs, but today they were all 3mm! I'm scared to start taking even more time off when my body seems to just be storing fat!


I don't know about 2 weeks. That seems a little too much.


First how much caffeine and thermogenics are you using? If any dont use anyfor this time period. how many meals are you getting in a day? fruits and vegetable servings? total protein? and fat?

I would not suggest two whole weeks off, but I would suggest you make sure your getting enough potasium if your on a LCD. also make sure your getting a high quality Multi and zma. a few days off is good, but chocolate and protein bars is no way gonna resest your metabolism.

make sure you increase total calorie intake , and utilize foods that speed up your recovery. I would of rather you ate more protein and steak, and ate three servings of fruit instead of bullshit protein bars. as for carbs how about some extra yams with your meals, or steel cut oatmeal.

I rarely find that junk food speeds up my recovery, usually grass fed beef and grapefruit are my personal bodies favorite.

So I would say incrase your beef, salmon, fruits vegetables, good fats, and in between meals my personal recovery secret is take around 10 g of glutamine , 10g of BCAAs, and 2 g of vitamin C. Three times daily. Oh yeah and I find that drin king to muc h tap water and I feel like shit. I like Trader Joes new zealand water, or ICe age water.


Interesting. I think I did exactly all the same things you stated in your post. This all happened just last week after feeling completely exhausted for more than a month and beat down from everything going on in my life. And I've had the same thing happen to me after eating junk food for a couple days when I had bad cravings and also ate more carbs thinking I needed them.

I've figured out that it all boiled down to being stressed or depressed. For me, it's been a culmination of things including work stress, the constanting pounding from my workouts, financial stress, house hunting stress, separation from my spouse due to her internship in another city, weather and daylight changes and other factors.

I've been taking steps to fix things and kick myself in the ass, but it's not easy! Just know that you're not the only one who has experienced this or that it can't be fixed (if you are indeed stressed or depressed)!

I suggest getting back to eating clean and switching up your training to something different than what you've been doing. But don't do something with too much volume or you'll keep yourself in a hole. You may also need a little more time to recover. As you could be in an "overreaching" period and just need a few more down days to get back on track.

Also, find someone to talk to (family member, close friend, professional) to help deal with things going on in your life as well. If you're dealing with stress from a variety of sources, it will most certainly affect your training.


1 week of rest with some light cardio/energy systems work should allow your body to recover.

You don't want to become obsessed with caliper readings or the fear of gaining a small amount of fat. Your focus on these factors seems to indicate a mild exercise addiction, which is likely responsible for your overtraining.

Your yearning for junk food is your body's way of informing you that your energy to expenditure ratio is out of whack. Simply eating more clean carbs should alleviate this problem.

If you take the recovery week, get your training under control, and adjust your eating, and yet the fatigue persists, you should contact your physician and get screened for anemia and celiac sprue.


Thanks so much!! It is really so nice to hear someone else going through a similar thing. I think it is a lot of stress built up probably that I didn't know about. I have been trying to figure out everything else - just getting stress down should help a lot.

I'm switching training to SHORT workouts - my workouts were getting close to over an hour and I was starting to drag. I'm trying to get my diet back on track - I still just always want to eat, but that's because I don't want to study and I know it. It is still so hard to turn down food. :frowning:

I've been snacking on a lot of veggies and trying to just keep things clean. I've mostly kept it that way although I keep being tempted to replace things - like I love yogurt but had no place to fit it in my diet so I had yogurt and berries instead of Surge PWO. Probably not the wisest choice, but oh well. At least it's sort of healthy.

I've also gotten potassium and iron. Thanks for the suggestions. Staying off Spike is feeling good too - I think I'll give it a break for a few months. I really don't need it - it's totally a mental thing when I start ot use it regularly...


It's amazing how life's stresses build up quickly and without you really noticing how it affects you until it's too late.

I'm doing MUCH better this week. I'm not exhausted to the point that I was before. I was getting 8-12 hours of sleep and still felt tired and could barely get up for work in the morning or have energy to do anything even when I slept in until noon on the weekends. Now, I'm actually sleeping well and waking up just before my alarm goes off, and I'm not dragging with everything else going on.

I'm also eating cleaner and I switched up my workouts to give my adrenals a break! And I've taken steps to help alleviate the stress in other areas of my life so I don't experience this again any time too soon. :slight_smile:


depending on where you are circadian rhythms also get thrown off by less sunlight. You'll find alot more depressed people in northern areas of the country in fall then summer.

I dont know you but if your not a figure competitor you sound a little obsessive. That will definitely cause all of the things you talked about. Just because you stop working out doesn't mean you should throw in extra junk,carbs or protein. You can relax and eat but dont' just go throwing one thing in then the next. soaking up carbs today is not going to have a huge positive effect on your bodies strength and energy tomorrow.

Also introducing or removing thermogenics will throw your body systems off for a few days maybe even a weeks. Have to plan around stuff.

All in all I think some of the quick fixes have thrown you off worse than it should. Remember your body is a system that looks for homeostasis in every aspect. Mentally, physically, hormonally you have to push the boundaries of the cycle to accomplish what you want.