The enraged and annoyed among us want to know, “Why Does Working Out Make Me Angry?”
Exercise is supposed to give you that euphoric “high”.
Everyone else sees unicorns, rainbows, cute puppies, and wants to hug every person in the world (apparently).
However, following your workout you just want to rip someone’s head off.
And pretty much the rest of the time you’re the nicest and calmest person ever.
So, what exactly is going on here?
Why Does Working Out Make Me Angry?
There are numerous reasons why working out makes you feel angry. The most common cause of anger or irritability is that you’re hungry. Exercising will burn calories, and being in a calorie deficit can typically make you feel grouchy. Additionally, increased testosterone levels from working out are often associated with irritability and aggressive behaviour. If you’re working out for too long this can cause a spike in cortisol levels and may leave you feeling depressed and grumpy. You should also be wary of getting enough sleep if you’re exercising regularly.
1. You’re Not Angry You’re Hangry
The number one reason for irritability following a workout is definitely hunger.
This is probably made worse if you’re trying to lose weight or burn body fat, as you’re likely to be restricting your calories.
However, you still need to fuel your workouts adequately.
From a personal perspective, I have found that I do experience that “high” following a workout, but by the time I get home I’m absolutely ravenous.
Woe betide anyone who gets in the way of me and the fridge.
Your glycogen levels will be fairly depleted following a workout, so it’s actually quite normal to feel a little cranky.
So, if it’s going to be a while before you get home and have something to eat it may make sense to have an after workout snack to hand.
Sometimes, even a quick sweet treat like orange juice will get your blood sugar levels back to normal.
With that being said, if you are on a weight-loss diet you’ll need to be wary of what you consume.
But even some fruit should do the trick.
This is simply something to tide you over until you can eat a sufficient amount of carbs, protein, and fats to replenish your energy (and good mood).
You should always eat within an hour of working out anyway, and the sooner the better.
Furthermore, pre-workout nutrition is just as important.
Admittedly, depending on the time of day you train, and the type of workout you perform, you could be exercising in a fasted-state.
However, it always makes sense to have something in your stomach to fuel your workout.
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2. The Adverse Effects of Testosterone
Increased testosterone production is typically a by-product of working out.
With that being said, testosterone is a sex hormone, although it is plays various important roles in the body.
I guess we generally view testosterone as a hormone that regulates sex drive, especially how horny your feel.
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However, testosterone is also responsible for muscle and strength, bone mass, fat distribution, red blood cell production, and of course sperm in males.
It’s interesting to note that women also produce testosterone, but simply at lower levels.
Now, when it comes to working out you can increase your testosterone production, although this will depend on the type of exercise you’re performing.
As an example, heavy and intense lower body strength training and HIIT will typically produce the most testosterone.
For all the different roles that testosterone has, this increase in levels following a workout can be associated with irritability and aggressive behaviour.
So, your anger could simply be caused by the type of workout you’re performing and how it has affected your testosterone production.
I guess higher levels of testosterone are often associated with steroid use, and we’ve all heard of “roid rage”.
But, your workout can still be causing these spikes in hormonal activity.
Just to confuse matters, low levels of testosterone may also cause anger, although this has more to do with its relationship with the hormone cortisol.
What Does Testosterone Really Do to Your Body?
3. You’re Working Out Too Long
So, I’ve just spoken about the relationship between testosterone and cortisol.
And these are typically tested to their limits the longer you exercise for.
Basically, excessive exercise levels can cause a drop in testosterone and a spike in cortisol levels.
Cortisol is known as the “stress” hormone, and it’s production increases when we are physically, mentally, or emotionally stressed.
In fact, once your glycogen stores have been depleted during exercise this will stimulate the release of cortisol.
For most of us this is generally somewhere between 45-60 minutes.
Additionally, your levels of testosterone will start to drop off.
With all of these chemical and hormonal reactions going on in the body it’s bound to affect your mood.
So, whereas increased testosterone could be making you angry, so can reduced levels of testosterone.
This is usually because the lower levels of testosterone are accompanied by increased cortisol levels.
In fact, as well as feeling angry, you’ll probably feel stressed, depressed, and even suffer from mood swings.
4. You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep
Something else that can cause all of these hormonal imbalances and changes in the body is a lack of sleep.
Plus, you definitely need to be getting adequate sleep when you’re working out.
Realistically, it’s while you’re getting your nightly shut-eye that all the magic happens in terms of getting strong, building muscle, burning fat, etc.
And let’s face facts, we’re all a little cranky if we don’t get enough sleep.
So, when you add to this that you’re stressing the body through physical activity, things can often go wrong.
You’ll generally need more sleep anyway if you’re exercising regularly.
Plus, this is not just about lying in bed at the end of the night, as the quality of your sleep will make a huge difference.
If you find that you’re not sleeping well, constantly waking up, or getting less than the norm of 7-8 hours a night, your anger levels will definitely increase.
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5. Your Existing Emotions Are Heightened
Something else to consider is your general mood before you start working out.
I’ve spoken about the hormonal things happening to you during exercise.
And I didn’t even get to mention the more “positive” ones, such as adrenaline and dopamine.
In fact, dopamine is the hormone most commonly associated with exercise.
It’s known as the “feel good” hormone, and explains that high that you often feel after working out.
But still, these are again hormones.
So, in effect, you could say there’s a huge chemical reaction going on inside your body while you work out.
This means that any existing emotions you have could be heightened at this time.
So, if you’re feeling happy, sad, upset, scared, depressed, or of course, angry, exercise could stir these feelings up even more.
I know we often see working out as a way to “get our aggression out”, but it can also have the opposite effect depending on your current mood.
So, if you were angry beforehand, you could be even angrier afterwards.
So, as you can see, there are lots of reasons why you may feel angry after working out.
Many of these come down to the hormonal activity going on inside your brain and body.
Exercise will initially increase testosterone levels, which can make you irritable.
Then again, at a certain point in your workout testosterone levels will drop and the production of cortisol will increase.
You may also find that your existing emotions are heightened through exercise.
Plus, this could all be made worse by poor sleeping habits.
However, the number one reason for your strop is undoubtedly that you’re hungry.
So, regardless of your reasons for exercising, food is definitely extremely important.
Hi, I’m Partha, the founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I’m someone who’s been passionate about exercise and nutrition for more years than I care to remember. I’ve studied, researched, and honed my skills for a number of decades now. So, I’ve created this website to hopefully share my knowledge with you. Whether your goal is to lose weight, burn fat, get fitter, or build muscle and strength, I’ve got you covered.