Umkay, well, nobody likes to discuss these things but at stumptuous.com, I feel that no training-related topic should be off-limits.
Our bodies, being squishy and full of organic goo, sometimes like to share things on the outside that we wish would remain on the inside.
Yes, it’s normal, though rather unpleasant and thankfully fairly uncommon. Read on…
Experienced trainers know the feeling. You finish a set of heavy squats, or all-out sprints, and suddenly your stomach tries to make a break for it. Blowing chunks, technicolour yawn, talking to Ralph on the great white phone, whatever you want to call it, nausea and vomiting during a workout are no fun.
what causes this?
Explanations vary. In a recent discussion on the Sportscience list, the following reasons were proposed:
- Gastrophageal reflux brought on by the valsalva maneuver (holding breath through heavy exertion)
- Compromised esophageal sphincter tone (in other words, a looseness of the little ring of muscle that separates your stomach from the esophagus) or esophageal or peptic ulceration
- Intense activation of central nervous system due to stress or the neurological demands of exertion
- Change in blood pH produced by the anaerobic metabolism of pyruvic acid. Low levels of lactic acid are normally produced from glucose via normal glycolytic pathways; however, if increased lactate production or decreased use occurs, lactate can accumulate. As the body uses oxygen, it generates carbon dioxide and hydrogen ions, which increases the acidity and decreases the blood pH. We have buffering systems to keep pH constant, but if these can’t keep up, then it creates metabolic acidosis. Intense exercise that sucks up a lot of oxygen — such as squats or sprints — can produce a very mild form of metabolic acidosis.
- Shunting of blood away from gastrointestinal tract to working muscles; stomach responds by trying to expel contents involuntarily
- Psychological nausea brought on by the stress of executing a difficult movement
- Dehydration and/or low blood sugar
how can I avoid it?
Barring trauma to your GI tract (as, for example, in the case of a trainee who has gastric reflux, in which the esophageal sphincter doesn’t close off effectively enough and allows stomach contents to make a run for the border), the best way to avoid nausea is through prevention.
- Pop a couple of antacids before your workout.
- Have 1000 mg of powdered ginger capsules. Ginger is a potent antinauseant without the side effects of other anti-nausea drugs like Gravol.
- Figure out which is more likely to make you feel nauseous: food in your stomach or an empty stomach. I have to eat something before I work out. Others need to have an empty tummy.
- Sipping at a sports drink or juice during your workout may help if the issue is low blood sugar.
- Add some cardio to your workout routine. Quite often, this will help improve your ability to tolerate the workload of activities such as squats, particularly if the cardio is reasonably intense. Start with a few minutes of intense cardio and work up to about 10 minutes per session.
- If it’s long squat or deadlift sets making you hurl, try shorter sets. Instead of 3 sets of 10 reps, try 5 sets of 6 reps. Alternately, try resting longer between sets. And make sure to suck in lots of oxygen.
Powerlifter Logan Lacy knows this feeling all too well. His attempt to squat 1008 lbs ended in projectile vomiting. But hey, way to try, buddy!