How Do Athletes Overcome Fatigue

World class level sportspeople are always fatigued to some degree. So the discussion amongst their medical practitioners is a little different from how the subject of fatigue is discussed elsewhere. It’s split into two subsets: Positive Fatigue and Negative Fatigue.

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Positive Fatigue

Positive fatigue is when the athlete is extremely tired but performance levels continue to rise, meaning they’re in a phase of their training called ‘super-compensation’.

Negative Fatigue

Negative Fatigue which is what we’ll be dealing with here is when the sportsperson no longer has the ability to perform at a level that used to be possible.

Negative Fatigue can destroy an elite sportspersons career if the correct advice to overcome this constant tiredness is not given. Which is why they have experts like me watching their backs. And today in this article I’ll be getting to some of that private advice we give to athletes. So how do athletes overcome fatigue?


This is a big thing in sports, and it’s a huge part of answering the question of how do athletes overcome fatigue. This first thing medics and physios will order is the correct amount of hydration. Without enough water, nothing is possible. Certainly nothing in the way of elite sports. You’re supposed to have clear Urine. Clear Urine is a sign that you’ve taken in enough water to properly regulate your body heat. It’ll also tell you that your Cells are functioning at optimum level. We advise athletes to drink until their Urine comes out clear and then to drink regularly to maintain that clear status.

Limit Training Days

Then, once the hydration advice is given and followed, training days are usually limited. The number of training days you’re advised to do would depend on how far into Negative Fatigue you are. For extreme Negative Fatigue where an athlete is constantly tired I’d advise going down to two days a week. Do you feel tired and sleepy all the time? Get down to two days. For fatigue that is closer to the positivity line but is still negative because performance is suffering. I’d recommend going down to four days a week. And in both groups, you can still do high-intensity training.

High-intensity training?

Non sportspeople always want to know how do athletes overcome fatigue while still doing high-intensity training? The answer is they limit high-intensity days to 50% of the total number of days they’ll be training. And they avoid two consecutive high-intensity days. They also try to avoid Overreaching. If you’re not familiar with the term, Overreaching is when your recovery time is not well-balanced with your training and so you become fatigued. Allow yourself enough recovery time and if you think you’re going too hard at any point in training, then scale back and reduce workload. If you manage your training well and don’t go too hard (overreach) then you should see steady reductions in your fatigue.


On the subject of how do athletes overcome fatigue, sleep is very important. Usually for non-sportsmen we recommend 7-8 hours with the percentage of NREM3 (deep dreaming sleep) not specified. With elite athletes we recommend 8-9 hours with 25% of that being NREM3. Now, if you’re reading this and you’re not an elite athlete then you’re probably not going to have access to any device that could measure the amount of NREM3 sleep you’re getting. So, a reasonably good guide would be to measure your heart rate in the morning to see if it’s at normal resting levels. That would indicate to you that you’ve had a good quality sleep.

Training Aids

Make use of any straps or aids you have to ease the workload of specifically fatigued joints and muscles. A strap on a leg can decrease time spent in Negative Fatigue by 25%.

Hydro Recovery and how do athletes overcome fatigue


Water is an amazing substance and to help athletes recover from fatigue swimming is one of the more popular activities physio’s recommend. Why is it so good? Well, because you’re still able to work out even at high-intensity but there’s no impact stress on the body because water is not solid. It also keeps your heart-rate up and is excellent for muscle growth. Athletes who want to stop fatigue and stop tiredness tend to swim on almost every training day.


A nice hot spa (water jet massage) is also great at muscle recovery, especially in the legs. Ice Baths have somewhat of the same effect but we only recommend those to athletes with extreme fatigue.

Eat your Carbs

Carbohydrates are an important source of energy that’ll help you deal with your training load. So you need to eat enough foods with Carbs in or you’ll increasingly become more fatigued. They also help build muscle and strengthen the muscles that are already there. The health of muscles is incredibly important when it comes to beating fatigue. But, you’ve also got to take in Carbs at the right time. Your recovery after training won’t start until after you’ve taken in your first post-training session Carbs. So that’s when you need to load up.

No more psyching yourself up

Many athletes have certain routines they go through before performance. Sometimes they’ll vocalize their mental pre-performance preparation by shouting and screaming or pacing up and down. Fatigued athletes are encouraged to tone down this kind of mental arithmetic because mental energy costs real energy later on. And, they have reduced real energy due to their fatigue so they should keep their shouting and screaming to a minimum.

Final Thoughts

My aim in this article was to first answer the question of how do athletes overcome fatigue? And second, to do it in such a way that the most important prerequisites to sustainable nonfatigued performance were included, while maintaining a level of simplicity. Because I wanted everybody to be able to get a grasp of this large and rather complex subject. I think that I’ve done this, and hopefully, if you are training now and want to overcome your fatigue then you’ll be able to apply these methods to improve your own performance. Thank you for reading.