Does exercising your upper body REALLY make your lower body tired?

karla gilbert supI’m sure you could ask any triathlete or multi-sport athlete this question and they will say YES, without a doubt…You try biking or running after you’ve done a super hard swim or paddle session.

It’s not that hard to work out that ANY sort of exercise will make our bodies tired overall but to what degree?

I found an interested research article in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise this week that explained it a bit further.

The researchers tested subjects on two different exercise setups: one group did two rounds of intense leg exercises while the other did arms followed by legs. Each group’s second set of exercises showed about a 33% decline in performance — despite half of the subjects starting with fresh legs.:

 “Previous studies of this protocol have shown that your leg muscles still have the same concentration of glycogen, ATP, and phosphocreatine — the main sources of fuel in the muscle itself — after the arm exercise, so that’s not the explanation. ‘ (Runners World)

You can’t conveniently ‘borrow’ stored energy from one body part and use it for another.  Each muscle has its own fuel (glycogen, ATP and phosphocreatine) so it’s a matter of looking at the overall picture and this means focussing our attention on the blood that is freely flowly through our body as the culprit.

Yep, that lovely burny feeling you get after a hard upper body workout is the lactate, hydrogen and potassium build up that kind of likes to hang around for a while. Even though your legs are ready and raring to go they will not perform at their best….enter the reason for ‘brick sessions’ that are a training must do for multisport endurance athletes that train the body to adapt to the change in using different body parts.

So what does all this mean to the average fitness punter?

Well, if you plan to train your body like two separate parts in the same session it may be wise …or at least decide which body part you want to hit first and fresh..or which body part you want to increase muscular endurance in by working it last.


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