Life can be tiring, I’m not just having a moan, it’s a simple fact. Mental fatigue is a decrease in cognitive performance, as a result of prolonged periods of cognitive activity. You may not think about it like this, you may just feel tired, lethargic or struggle to pay attention. As an amateur and corporate athlete, mental fatigue is often a major factor you have to deal with. But how does mental fatigue actually effect performance?


Mental Fatigue and Endurance

The duration of a task can determine whether or not your mental state comes into play. Additionally the intensity of exercise can alter whether or not your brain effects performance.

It has been shown that if you are suffering from mental fatigue you will perform poorly in endurance based tasks. Research recorded decreased time to exhaustion and increased completion time.  However this is not due to any physical factors. Mental fatigue does not effect your heart rate, blood lactate, oxygen uptake etc etc. The reason is quite simple, you simply feel like you’re having to try harder. A higher than normal rate of perceived exertion has been shown to be the reason for decreased performance.


Effects on Strength, Power & Anaerobic Work

Strength, power and anaerobic work in general are all short periods of high intensity work. Because of this, there is no change in performance when an athlete is mentally fatigued.

Read further into the findings in the following article HERE.


Adjust Your Training Accordingly

With the above information, you can adjust your workouts to fit your mental state. Assuming your circumstances allow it you can swap out endurance based work when feeling mentally fatigued. As a result, you can optimise training sessions and perform maximally.

Just because the 10 weeks to 10k mobile app tells you to go an run 5 miles, doesn’t mean you have to. Change the workout to some high intensity interval work with lots of rest. In addition, take the rest periods as exactly that, not only for the body but for the mind.


So the next time you turn up to Bushy Park, for a session of Personal Training in Twickenham, London, make a note of your mental state. If you feel tired, lethargic or are struggling to pay attention, let your trainer know. We adjust sessions all the time in order to get the most out of our athletes.