Should You Train When You Are Tired?

Yes, but consider a few important tips.

Man holding weights during workout
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When you are tired, it is hard to motivate yourself to perform a tough workout. However, if you force yourself to go to the gym, you may have one of your best workouts ever -- once your adrenaline kicks in. Unless you have not slept well for several nights or you are sick, go work out. 

Hit the Gym - But Take Stock When You're Tired

Follow these tips if you work out when you are tired:

  1. Do a couple of warm-up sets and see how you feel. Depending upon the way you feel, decide whether to either perform your full routine or, instead, a shorter bodybuilding routine of 25 to 30 minutes. If you do this, you will find that 90 percent of the time you will have a great workout.
  2. If you are still drained after warming up and doing a set or two, pack your gym bag and leave. When this is the case, your body really needs some rest and recovery. Your nervous system and your adrenal glands will thank you for it too.


If you're consistently tired when it comes time for your workout, you may need a break -- or at least a longer break between workouts. According to a study published in the "Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research," you need sufficient recovery time both between sets during a workout and between workouts to rest. If you're not giving yourself sufficient rest time, your body will tell you -- and you'll definitely feel overly tired when it's time to hit the gym.

Also, if you've been getting seven to nine hours of sleep per night -- the amount recommended by the National Sleep Foundation -- you should be fine to hit the gym. But, if you're sleeping less than six hours nightly, it's time to rethink your schedule, says Kelly Glazer Baron, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and sleep researcher at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. Baron recommends heading to bed 15 minutes earlier or shaving 10 minutes off your morning -- or evening -- workout routine if that will give more time to get your required shut-eye.

Skip the Workout If You're Sick

Being tired is one thing. As noted, that's something you can remedy with more rest between sets and workouts or more sleep. But ensure that you are not sick -- especially with the flu -- if you plan to hit the gym. If this is the case, bodybuilding would not only be detrimental to your muscle growth, it could harm your health. Remember that while training can help you gain muscle, lose fat, and feel good and energetic, it is still a catabolic activity. Your body needs to be in good health to go from the catabolic state caused by the exercise to an anabolic state of recuperation and muscle growth.

Bottom line: If you're tired because you're sick, stay home. Once you recover, restart your workout routine.