Hitting a "wall" 20 minutes into weightlifting session

  • shoelessj

    Posts: 511

    Aug 24, 2009 4:24 AM GMT
    Hey guys, recently I've rededicated myself to lifting (I got lazy this summer and though I'd go to the gym four times a week, I'd either jog or hit the elliptical machine) the past couple weeks, lifting three times a week, for at least 40 minutes/20 sets a session.

    Unfortunately though, most of the time, about 15 - 20 minutes into the lifting session, I am just smacked with fatigue. The first couple exercises I do, usually heavy ones for the big muscles -- bench presses, leg presses, shoulder presses -- I'm fine, full of energy, lifting hard, but after that point, I can barely do more than 6 bicep curls with an 80 pound barbell, or tricep curls, without really really struggling.

    Any idea what may be behind this? I've looked into taking some sort of supplement before working out to prevent/delay this fatigue, but I'm a little hesitant because I have an existing high blood pressure, which I don't want to exacerbate with stimulants.
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    Aug 24, 2009 4:33 AM GMT
    Are you working the whole body in one session? If so, that might be your problem. You should consider splitting your routine.. Different muscle groups on different days.
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    Aug 24, 2009 4:36 AM GMT
    along with what xrichx asked, are you eating right? hydrated? sleeping enough? have you gone right back at the same weights as when you pulled back?
  • shoelessj

    Posts: 511

    Aug 24, 2009 4:39 AM GMT
    Here's a sample of a recent session.

    Start with 5 - 10 minutes on the elliptical.
    Then, bench press, 12-10-8-6-12
    chest flyes, either dumbell or machine, one set
    lat pullover (machine) 12-10-8-6-12
    shoulder press 12-10-8-6-12
    bicep curls [two or three sets - this is where i break down, if not sooner]
    tricep curls [again, two or three sets,, if i've got it in me]
    leg curls and leg presses, four or five sets each.

  • shoelessj

    Posts: 511

    Aug 24, 2009 4:45 AM GMT
    lilTanker:

    sleep (or lack of it) is an issue with me. I work three different shifts during the week, school part-time. A couple days a week I work 8am - 4pm, but one day a week i work 2pm - 10pm (on a night before i work at 8am the next day) and on the weekends I work the midnight shift. From friday to sunday night i don't sleep, i nap, three or four hours at a time. I hope i can get a better schedule maybe next year (if not i will be looking for another place of employment).

    Don't drink a lot of water, maybe a cup before working out, a cup's worth during workout, usually a protein shake afterward. I also pretty much have tried to keep to the same weights -- if only 10 - 15 percent lighter -- than I was lifting before.

    thanks!
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    Aug 24, 2009 5:37 PM GMT
    shoelessj saidHey guys, recently I've rededicated myself to lifting (I got lazy this summer and though I'd go to the gym four times a week, I'd either jog or hit the elliptical machine) the past couple weeks, lifting three times a week, for at least 40 minutes/20 sets a session.

    Unfortunately though, most of the time, about 15 - 20 minutes into the lifting session, I am just smacked with fatigue. The first couple exercises I do, usually heavy ones for the big muscles -- bench presses, leg presses, shoulder presses -- I'm fine, full of energy, lifting hard, but after that point, I can barely do more than 6 bicep curls with an 80 pound barbell, or tricep curls, without really really struggling.

    Any idea what may be behind this? I've looked into taking some sort of supplement before working out to prevent/delay this fatigue, but I'm a little hesitant because I have an existing high blood pressure, which I don't want to exacerbate with stimulants.


    Well, you're 270 pounds. You don't mention if you're taking a med for your bp. Blood pressure meds and athletics kinda' run counter to each other. If you're taking apha agonists (clonidine), or beta blockers (atenenol), they'll slow your heart way down, and your body will not be able to raise its heart rate Taking your bp med is important. You do not want a stroke. However, many folks are over-medicated, or they can get off or lower their bp meds, once they become a regular person with some degree of fitness. Fatigue you talk about would be typical of someone with beta blockers. The trick is in finding the happy spot for your meds. CCBs (Norvasc) works by slowing the calcium process in muscular contractions. This can cause you aches and fatigue and some bloating. ACE inhibs (lisinopril) inhibit antgiotesin conversions, and change muscle tone. Diuretics (hctz, aldactone) lower your fluid levels. If you're taking a beta blocker, or alpha agonists, and find yourself very fatigued, you should talk to your doctor. Don't stop the meds cuz you can bounce yourself real bad. Blood pressure control methods can REALLY affect your performance in a negative way. In particular, alpha, and beta stuff (there's new stuff for I receptors now) slow your ability to do physical work.

    If you're not on meds for your bp, you need to look at what you eat. Did you eat? When did you start training? What was your fitness level when you started? Getting into shape takes time, and you're carrying a lot of weight. Are you just fat and out of shape?

    I think I'd see a m.d. if I was you. If you're on A agonists, or B blockers, I'd sure talk to the doctor about it.

    Beta blockers will stop you dead in your tracks. Most folks hate them.

    Once guys hit 40, and especially if they don't take testosterone, you can end up with 4 things happening.
    1. Heart rate goes up.
    2. BP goes up.
    3. Eyes go.
    4. Sickle cell (black guys).

    Testosterone will help to protect your heart, and lower your bp, if you're not on it yet.

    It could be you're tired, or you're hungry, but, your mention of BP tells me a lot. You could also have a SERIOUS cardiac problem. An expert needs more information about all the variables. You really didn't provide all the information here.

    When I was 28, I had a resting heart rate of 43. As I've gotten older, it keeps getting higher and higher, despite the fact that I can hold my heart rate at 160 for 20 minutes, and regularly work out (I'm waiting to get my arm fixed right now, so I've not gone to the gym.) My testosterone script works in just a few days to improve my bp numbers, and heart rate. It's amazing, but, it's not enough. Right now, while I'm waiting on my distal biceps tendon repair, I've seen my bp go up, and my heart rate, too. It's frustrating, because I do a butt load of exercise, eat right, and have always done so. For me, it's the damn over 40 club kicking in. You could be one of those folks that have the same thing. You probably should see a good doctor. Make sure it's not some nut who will over medicate you.
  • CuriousJockAZ

    Posts: 19129

    Aug 24, 2009 5:41 PM GMT
    If I'm headed to the gym and I'm feeling like my energy level is just not going to be what I want or need, I drink a half a bottle of a Redline (aka "Crack in a Bottle"). I can only handle half a bottle...a whole one and I'd be at the gym for 4 hours LOL
  • outdoorjunkie

    Posts: 118

    Aug 24, 2009 5:42 PM GMT
    My suggestion: I wouldn't take a supplement before your workout; it's too heavy. Eat an apple, almonds, berries, yogurt, or something else light but nutritious about an hour before your workout. I'm telling you, this makes a HUGE difference. I went from barely making 30 minutes to being able to last over an hour. Good luck, man!
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    Aug 24, 2009 5:44 PM GMT
    i vote N.O. explode. Is my personal favorite energy supplement, being a pump supplement also it will open up your blood flow a little
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    Aug 24, 2009 5:52 PM GMT
    Try niacin. It's a bunch cheaper, and is a very effective vasodilator.

    The guy said he didn't want stimulants because of his hypertension. Folks, did you read his posting?
  • shoelessj

    Posts: 511

    Aug 25, 2009 5:12 AM GMT
    thanks guys, especially chucky.

    I am on medication, something called exforge, a CCB. Been on it for about a month now. The BP has gone down significantly, though it is still too high. I have to get the fat down, though, as well. My doctor is kind of cool in a way. he told me not to see a nutritionist, not to 'diet,' just to write down everything i eat -- and not to show it to anyone but myself. And you know, when you look at it later, it does show you just how much or how badly you're eating. So i'm making progress there, too (i don't want to put up any new pics of myself here until i look significantly different). Too bad it's taken me this long to realize you can't eat anything and then workout as if it'll melt away.

    Strange thing is, on the weekends i get on the treadmill after work since i am still usually half-asleep and don't want to lift when i'm in that state (we're talking 8am-ish, after having been awake since about 10pm the previous night) and though i don't go really fast, i can go for about an hour, mainly only stopping because of all the sweat and because it gets really boring. Weird that i have trouble lasting half that long while lifting.
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    Aug 25, 2009 10:20 AM GMT
    Hitting the wall, or the bonk, is due to glycogen depletion in the muscle and liver. Glycogen is how carbs are stored for energy.
    A large part of the bonk is mental. The brain is an energy hog and competes with muscles for carbs. When the brain senses that carbs are becoming less available for it's personal use, it creates the feeling of fatigue and exhaustion. Interestingly the muscles may have adequate energy supplies and could perform more, but the mental state is so overwhelming that the athlete is forced to slow down. If the brain is depleted further of carbs, thinking can be impaired, dizziness can set in and in severe cases hallucinations can occur (the little purple people seen by marathon runners).
    Carbs prior to exercise is the remedy.
    Studies from the Universities of Colorado and Texas found that the best time to take supplemental carbs is 35 minutes prior to exercise.
    The topic is more complex than my simplified version. There is some recent evidence that protein comes into the equation. Some experts are beginning to recommend protein prior to intense exercise.
    What I found to happen, is that dieters like you are restricting carbs in order to lose weight. The inadequate carb intake may lead to inadequate glycogen supplies. With adequate carb intake the body can replace glycognen stores in only 24 hours.
    You are taking amlodipine (Exforge) for blood pressure. The calcium channel blockers class do not cause problems with exercise tolerance like the beta blockers do. Muscle aches and spasms have been reported to occur in patients taking amlodipine.
    Chucky brought up testosterone. Testosterone deficiency is more common in overweight men than lean men. If you are deficient in testosterone, replacement can aid with fat loss and muscle growth.