We all lead busy lives and finding the energy to workout can be challenging. When you’d rather grab an extra few hours in bed or an extra few drinks with your friends, it can be a chore to drag yourself to the gym.
Even without distractions, finding the actual energy you need to power through a workout can be tough. From lack of sleep to long shifts at work, you might find your body just doesn’t have the energy reserves needed to ensure you can hit the gym in the way you want to.
It’s important to state this clearly: we are referring to real, physical energy here – not just motivation. The most motivated person on earth can’t perform well in the gym if they don’t have energy. So let’s take a look at what we mean and why it matters.
What is “energy?”
In the context of exercise, energy refers to the kinetic energy that your muscles exert. This energy is created by adenosine triphosphate, or ATP – which is the body’s chemical vehicle for storing and distributing energy. ATP is produced through creatine phosphate and glucose (more specifically, glycogen.)
When your body’s muscle cells begin to work, they can leverage natural creatine phosphate stores in each muscle cell. This is broken down quickly and supplies ATP fast – so supplies energy at a high rate for around 10 seconds.
Following this, your muscles begin to use stored glycogen, which is made from carbohydrates. This glycogen converts glucose into ATP, but is slower than creatine. Your body can do this without oxygen, but this leaves lactic acid. The body can only support this process for around two minutes before it begins sending oxygen to working muscles.
Once this happens, oxygen in the muscles causes aerobic respiration to break down glucose into ATP. This process is slower than the others, but longer-lasting – as long as you have carbohydrate reserves available.
Get energy before the gym
So, if we understand the process by which energy is created and utilised, we can optimise our workouts to boost energy levels. But let’s quickly deal with the elephant in the room…
Motivation: not quite energy, but just as important
Mental health is just as important as physical health. While this article is focusing on the science behind energy and how the body uses it, we must address motivation. If you’re mentally struggling to work out, it really doesn’t matter how much energy you have.
There are lots of different ways to try and boost motivation, but they are all variable to your personality. No amount of motivational YouTube videos will get someone who doesn’t appreciate them to head to the gym. A friend badgering you to work out will just annoy an introvert.
Instead, motivation has to come from within. Think of what it is you want from your exercise activities and try to utilise those as your focus. Bring an audiobook or music playlist tailored to your tastes. Change your routine if you don’t enjoy it. Do half the workout you planned: as half is still more than skipping a session.
Essentially, be kind to yourself. Recognise that some days may be harder than others. It’s okay to take a break – just keep your eyes on the longer-term goals.
Ways to boost energy
With all this in mind, let’s get into ways to boost energy for workouts:
Increase your carbohydrate intake
- Carbohydrates play a crucial role in supplying the glucose your body needs. Complex carbs such as whole grains are slowly broken down by the body, so they are ideal for eating in the day and then utilising for an evening workout. Simple carbs (sugars) break down very quickly, so they’re ideal either immediately pre-workout or immediately afterwards.
- You can ‘saturate’ your body via carbohydrate loading, which is a technique favoured by marathon runners and other long-distance athletes. Doing this means your body can continue supporting aerobic respiration for longer without eating into protein or muscle cells.
Try caffeine/pre-workout powders before the gym
- Pre-workout powders, such as our Succeed Voltage powder, are popular for gym-goers because they work so effectively. Most pre-workout powders contain a mix of ingredients that can reduce lactic acid buiild-up. One of the most important ingredients, however, is caffeine – which is proven to help increase energy. The brain uses ATP, which results in a byproduct called AMP. A build-up of AMP makes you sleepy. Caffeine blocks the way AMP signals the brain and therefore helps increase alertness.
Consume BCAAs mid-workout
- Branched-chain amino acids are part of your body’s natural muscle recovery process – so supplements that contain them are great for helping your muscles recover. However, BCAAs can also take the role of glucose during exercise to supply muscles with energy.
Increase your vitamin intake
- A lack of vitamins in your diet, specifically B vitamins, will impair your energy. That’s down to the role they play: B vitamins help your body break down food into glucose – so they’re essential for generating and maintaining energy.
Of course, the best possible way to get energy to workout is to combine good nutrition with adequate rest and the right mindset. Working out can be a challenge, but the goal you have in mind can help spur you to it. Ensure you’re consuming enough complex carbs and post-workout protein so your body has the energy it needs to smash your next workout. If you need a little boost, why not try our gym supplement range?