Even if you have the guts, pushing through the last couple sets of your training sessions and eking out three or four extra reps can be tough it your body’s biochemistry is fighting against you. Muscle fatigue that develops during the later part of your workout is usually brought on by two different factors (often at the same time) that can break your progress and motivation. Lack of nutrients being delivered to your muscles. If your muscles aren’t receiving the proper nutrients and fuel during your workout their ability to continually and forcefully contract will be impaired leaving you a couple reps short when you need them the most. By increasing blood flow to your muscles and continuing to deliver the needed nutrients, your muscles will keep contracting and you’ll keep pumping out the reps. A buildup of metabolic waste in your muscles. The building up of metabolic waste in your muscles signals your body that your muscles have been working too hard and have used up the fuel it has. Your body responds to this by starting to shut your muscles down. By clearing out the metabolic waste in your muscle cells, your body will never get the signal to put the foot on the brakes, and you’ll be able to hit your rep targets late into your workout. Before you lose out with your workouts try these four strategies that you can use to fight muscle fatigue and finish your workouts strong. START: PREP RIGHT >> [pagebreak]

Proper Pre-Workout Nutrition

The magic bullet for lethargic muscles during a training sessions is proper pre-workout nutrition. Start fueling your body before your workout. You should begin with a blend of carbohydrates and amino acids (even as simple as 20-30 oz. of Gatorade with 5-10 grams of branched chain amino acids). The carbohydrate/amino acid combination has been shown to increase both blood flow to muscles and protein synthesis (i.e. muscle growth), the former being key for making sure your muscles don’t get prematurely fatigued while training. The increased blood flow to your muscles will result in the delivery of more nutrients to fuel your muscles as well as the clearing of built up metabolic waste. More about Pre and Post Workout Nutrition >> NEXT: CLEAR OUT THE WASTE >> [pagebreak]

Try Citrulline Malate

Citrulline malate, an amino acid derivative and precursor to arginine can accelerate the clearance of metabolic waste, preventing your muscles from sending out the fatigue signal, and thus making them work harder and longer for you. Research published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning showed that taking 8 grams of citrulline malate prior to a chest workout allowed lifters to do more reps as the workout when on compared to the men given a placebo. By the 16th and final set of the chest workout the lifters who used citrillune malate had a 50% increase in reps. In addition to allowing the lifters to do more work in the gym, the guys taking citrulline malate also reported less soreness in the days following their 16 set chest workout. Depending on your training routine and goals, other supplements could provide some added benefits. NEXT: GET WIRED >> [pagebreak]

Use Caffeine

Overtime certain stimulants have come into and fallen out of favor. Ephedra was every meathead’s upper of choice but its shady role in 37 incidences of stroke, heart attack and sudden death and over 900 reports of ephedra toxicity, the FDA to yank it off the shelves in the 2004. More recently 1,3-dimethylamylamine (DMAA) has become very popular for its ability to take people from sleepy to superhuman in no time. But just last month, the US Army implicated the use of supplements containing DMAA as potentially playing a role in the deaths of two soldiers. Ephedra is out, DMAA is out, what is left? Ol’ reliable, caffeine. Caffeine has been shown in numerous studies to be safe and well tolerated (in some instances in 600 mg dosages). Research shows that pre-workout caffeine can reduce perception of exercise induced muscle pain. So if you’re finding that the aches and lactic acid burn from your fat loss complexes is too much to bear, then pre-workout caffeine may be exactly what you need to fight through the pain and get the extra reps you need. One important thing to remember with the use of any stimulant is that you can burn out from overuse, so use them strategically and wisely. NEXT: TIME OUT >> [pagebreak]

Shorten Your Workouts

Embarking in marathon training sessions may seem manly and Spartan-like but you are having weight training sessions that consistently high the 1½ to 2 hour mark are hurting more than your helping. If you are having trouble making it through these long training sessions, the problem might be hormonal. Keep your weight training workouts to around 60 minutes to optimize your anabolic hormones. If sluggish muscles are keeping you from peaking at the end of your workouts put one of these tips into action to breakthrough your sticking point for maximum muscle growth. Mike Roussell, PhD is a Food Industry and Private Nutrition Consultant in State College, PA. and author of 6 Pillars of Nutrition