T Nation

Reduced Mental Capacity After Workout


It is extremely difficult for me to do critical thinking after a really ball-busting tough workout. I completely space out and can't focus.

This effect usually lasts for the remainder of that day and sometimes 1-2 days afterwards. (It affects my performance in school/work.)

If I don't workout for a week or so there's a dramatic difference in my mental capabilities.

It's been happening my entire life, despite good sleep, nutrition and overall health.

Anyone else experienced this?
Are you aware of any research in this area?
Any suggestions to alleviate these effects? (I don't want to stop lifting heavy.)


And you're SURE about that last part? When i hear this i immediately think poor nutrition/water intake, bad sleeping, holding breath for much too long, etc. You might have to go into detail about these things before anyone can give you a serious answer.


I doubt that you actually have a drop off in mental performance for 1-2 days man haha. What leads you to that conclusion?

When I clicked on this thread I thought you were going to say maybe an hour or something and I was going to agree somewhat


Nutrition is spot-on:
-beef, fish, eggs, cottage cheese, nuts, exvoo, sweet potato, kale, spinach, broc, carrots, oatmeal, a little fruit, etc.
-usually 3000-4000 cals/day split across 5 meals
-never eat cheat meals or shitty carbs (I eat enough good fat to always feel satiated)

I drink water continuously all day and stop a few hours before I go to bed. About 1 gallon a day. I'm pissing every hour or so.

Sleep consistent 7-8 hrs/night

Holding breath, do you mean while I'm doing the lifts? I hold my breath during each rep so that my spine is stable for the lift, then breath between reps. I don't know much about breathing, so this could be the issue. What should I be doing?


I progressively feel better as I get farther from my last workout.

If I do a tough workout in the morning, I feel brain dead for the rest of the day. It's just super hard to concentrate.

Then for the next 1-2 days I don't feel brain dead but I still have more trouble focusing than I would otherwise.

Then if its been 3-4 days since a workout I'm a total monster and have awesome concentration.

I've been observing this pattern for quite a while so I'm pretty confident of it. Definitely with how zombified I feel on the day of a workout.


Blood flow situation maybe?


Damn man if that were the case then most of us would be permanently zombies since most of us train 3-6 days a week.


Seems plausible. My hands and feet are always cold. I'll have to look into this.


How heavy are you? Maybe check into sleep apnea dude


This past summer I was 195 at ~9% bf
Now I'm 165 at ~7% bf due to significant drop-off in lifting volume
I experienced the same symptoms at both weights

I'd be surprised if it was sleep apnea. I generally feel well-rested, just not right after a workout


So you generally feel well rested but you feel that your mental capacity suffers from workouts? Can you give us an example of what you mean by 'reduced mental capacity'?


Maybe youre just stupid and lifting clears your mind enough for you to realize it.


My eyes aren't struggling to stay open. I don't have an urge to sleep.

Suppose I lift and then 2 hours later I sit down at my computer to do some homework. I might space out for 5 minutes at a time just staring at my screen. Total lack of focus. Whereas on another day when I hadn't lifted, I could go balls to the wall working on that same homework for 10 hours straight with awesome focus.

Maybe a better way to describe it is mental exhaustion.


QFT you beat me to it


I'm dumber than you could possibly imagine


Sometimes I'll do a workout where I lay down everything I have in the gym and I'll feel like that. But most workouts I actually feel more energetic. The day after most workouts, I just have some extra trouble getting out of bed but once I get going the feeling goes away. I never do hard workouts the night before a test.

How's your work capacity? I find that if I take too much time between sets for a couple months, then I have a harder time recovering.


I almost always feel really energetic during my workouts, but after I wind down from that is when I feel mentally tired.

Work capacity probably isn't great right now. I've been training strength, so I've been doing low reps per set and longer rest (3-5 min). But I still had these same symptoms when I did more volume with short rest.


Does caffeine help at all?


I don't consume caffeine, and I prefer to keep it that way


I didn't think this would be that uncommon. maybe not for such a long time, but I'm like a zombie after a brutal leg (or back workout) for a couple/few hours, and still not as sharp the rest of the day.