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A CASE STUDY: Tanking during workouts; the cause, existing problem, and fix!

Two-a-days. The very thought of it brings up memories of Nick Smetlz throwing up his lunchtime Doritos during freshman football practice; orange, full chunks ,and all.

To our coaches, it was around the ideology that “where some is good, more has to be better!” Thankfully we’ve learned a lot about exercise volume and how much is truly needed to be effective in an athlete’s life. And for those who aren’t familiar with the term, it was one used to describe a training regimen where the follow planned to work out twice in a single day; typically once in the morning and once again in the afternoon.

While this isn’t an absolute to see progress in training metrics, sometimes it’s the best way for some folks to fit all that they’ve planned for training into the day.

This came up recently with a Valley to Peak client; his comments were “I’ve noticed that I started feeling really gassed between my morning hikes (rucks) and afternoon weight lifting sessions.”

While it’s not uncommon to notice this from time to time, it’s also not a commonplace. And, if you have the luxury of being to look at what a person was eating on the days before or after, it’ll give you a peek into the window of their life and an ability to identify just what may have happened to cause the feeling of lower energy levels or- “feeling gassed…”.

Let’s look deeper at this specific case, what caused the problem, and the fix!

“Feeling a little gassed/tough to recover from the two-a-days; AM Ruck and PM Lift”

I’d suggest two things here to mitigate this issue:

  • More total carbohydrate before the PM lift session.

  • A piece of fruit/glass of OJ/fast-digesting carbohydrate about 45-minutes to 1 hour before the workout itself.

Here’s an example:

He did a solid job getting carb TOTALS in for the day, but almost half of them were at dinner.

It’s not that there’s any problem with the time of day you’re eating them, but the bulk of the work is done before (I’m assuming) you have that last meal.

What may work better is a different split; have 70% of your intake (on two-a-days) in before the lift session. This replaces glycogen stores from the ruck AND prepares you for the PM lift session. Here’s a suggested split:

  • Breakfast: 60-90g

  • Lunch: 60-90g

  • Snack (30-60 minutes before the lift): 30-60g→ Fruit, fruit juice, gummies, etc. (focus on glucose, fructose, maltodextrin, etc. -based products. These are the FASTEST digesting carbs. It could even be a Gatorade).

  • Dinner: 60g

  • Snack: 30g

There are always TWO things to look at with nutrition when you notice the dreaded wall coming up in your training- type, and timing of carbohydrate intake.

Ideally, you’d be able to SPLIT the carbs evenly over the course of the day AND provide some rapid-digesting carbohydrate sources within 60-minutes of the actual workout as a source of quick energy. This offers slow energy delivery over the course of the day and some immediate fuel for the immediate energy demand.

There’s a variety of foods that can fit in here (no, Doritos isn’t one), so don’t get hung up on the “how”. The numbers are what matter most and by doing the work of ensuring they’re close to the goal you spare yourself the pain of running into that dreaded wall and foster an environment that lets you see what your body is truly capable of. And that’s a feeling that can’t be beaten!


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