Feeling like Fainting and Passing out During Exercise

I will share with you my experience regarding post workout hypoglycemia and fainting or blacking out right after workout. You might have just seen this on films and comedies like one dude tries to lift a weight and faints doing so. This happened to me already twice and I realized from there that this issue is not a laughing matter and needs to be discussed here as a safety precaution.

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You might have experienced this as well; feeling faint or going blackout or near black out during or nearing the end of a workout. You might feel like passing out or over light-headed. The best thing to do is sit down and stop. You see this is not fatigue; this is very different from just fatigue.

avoid fainting during exercise

When I had this I immediately ended the workout (it’s nearing the end anyways). And immediately walked home since it’s just a block away; I’d be risking embarrassment had I passed out while on the gym. I didn’t want to bother the owner anyways and I knew perfectly what to do; which I DON’T RECOMMEND you to do! When you feel like this; ask for assistance from the gym crew. Better yet if there is a nurse out there.

Luckily, even if there was no nurse out there I was able to handle it well, since I am a nurse myself and these things aren’t new to me at all; only that it used to happen to diabetic patients and not to me but I knew perfectly what was going on.

In both instances; I have been out of the gym for a month or a couple of weeks; and knowing me I always approached each workout like facing a battlefield: with much intensity as possible. You see this might be the reason: Passing out is a sign exercise-induced hypoglycemia, and high intensity training will really use up all lots of sugar and energy.

So with that in mind I can tell with accuracy that this phenomenon would be more common to experienced lifters rather than to pure newbies; because here’s what happens: with each workout your body adapts to a certain level of threshold therefore after a while you will become less and less likely to experience any discomforts relating to exercise. With that you must be able to reach higher and higher level of training intensity without a problem.

What happened in my case was that I am already in that certain level of “intensity” all this time because of years of training under my belt; but stopping has decreased my body’s stress threshold and my intensity was too much of a burden to it. In short I should’ve taken it slowly at those times which was honestly a negligence on my part and it is just something that I always had difficulty doing.

It also doesn’t help that we have a pretty strong family history of diabetes; and not the induced diabetes but the rarer of the two types; the type 1 or congenital type. I recently had my FBBS and luckily it was negative.

So what do we do to prevent this?

First off to avoid this: always see to it to eat a slow-digesting energy source like oatmeal for at least 4 hours pre workout to keep your energy levels up during the session itself. If you haven’t eaten anything for hours don’t even consider working out at that moment. Eat up first.

Make sure that you are hydrated before working out. One of the reasons for this besides hypoglycemia is dehydration. That one is dangerous. One must also rule out any cardiovascular causes by doing some tests before staring out on any program specially our “Ironthumb System” which involves high-intensity techniques that can take a toll on your body.

Even if you need to do ECGs like this:

doing tests cardiovascular

And what if this happens anyway? Immediately seek help; if you’re diabetic I would recommend that you always have someone look after you during workouts in case this happens. Protein and white sugar does the trick. I noticed that the symptoms subside after taking my post workout eggs and some sugar mixed with water to fix the glucose drop. I just sit for a while; the last time I wasn’t even able to reach home in one walk, I needeed to stop over two times by the street. I took some deep breaths and sat in a squatting like position since this position is most effective at making the heart circulate blood throughout the body. Like this:

sitting squatting

And lastly before we part for today; if you stopped for a while and you just got back into training; consider taking a pass from high intensity techniques for your first two weeks at least. Just do straight sets first while your body adapts and increases it threshold. Have a great workout; Eat your eggs, people!

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35 thoughts on “Feeling like Fainting and Passing out During Exercise

  1. Interesting and thank you.
    I’m not diabetic but suffering from IR. wish exercise will turn the whole thing around.
    didn’t know that i should eat protein, only thought of sugar in juice form.
    and thought id rather lay back on ground and put my legs in a higher position. but would definitely try the squat.

  2. I almost passed out from doing my back too hard in a roman chair. Try not to go blue in the face that will make you pass out. Some people might also have silent heart conditions. It doesn’t hurt to have a EKG before starting a workout routine.

    1. Exactly.
      Also, any person with a cardiac problem must look for a mini CPR defib machine set from any gym or bring his own

  3. Came across this article because I still can’t understand what happens to me. So I would feel like fainting sometimes (specially if I jump during workout) even if I haven’t stopped training for months. Out of the blue now and then, I feel light headed and I have to stop. Don’t know if my hypothyroid condition has something to do or should I just check my heart and blood sugar? Thanks for your article.

    1. I just literally fainted this last session.
      That was after a full-effort deadlift annihilation.
      High intensity exercises like deadlifts and squats which involve more than one muscle groups tend to eat up your muscle glycogen fastest therefore you might suffer hypoglycemia. Candies are great fist aid. I was able to get back to the workout later but I fell asleep. That could’ve been dangerous and I admit that not asking for help was carelees.
      If I were you I would have myself checked and tested indeed.

  4. Oh my god your article has taught me a lesson I was doing bench pressing, squatting, dead lifting, arm curls, leg presses, decline, and incline presses for about an hour (I usually go at it for like 2 hrs) but for some reason I felt extremely light headed which seemed odd but I hadn’t eaten in 5 hrs had not drank any water at all and went full out on my exercises now I see that proper nutrition can make such a huge difference during workout sessions wow I really feel like crap my P.E teacher also tells me that I should calm down on my exercise because I am too young I’m 17 by the way I think he’s right but I just love weight training so much ha.

    1. Glad to have helped you there!
      Its true
      and not to mention that those exercises are heavy consumers of glycogen (your sugar stores).
      And you must really take into consideration you pre-workout, make sure you are hydrated and have slept well the last night.

      1. Thanks for all the tips, I’m not new to this stuff I’ve been doing it since I was 15, but I still don’t know much about the dangers. I’m going to check out your website some more it seems like it would really help me out, this never happened to me before, I usually eat something high in carbs about 4-5 hours before workout, but just did it for the energy. I never knew a proper meal before the workout was THAT important, because my last workout I was just like “meh who cares if I didn’t eat anything” now I know that was horrible mistake and I’m glad I found your article, it really reassured me, and I will try to improve on my pre workout. Thanks for all the tips, you are a lifesaver, by the way the candy tip really helped out after I was done.

  5. I would also like to thank you for this article. Unfortunately it happens to me as well once in a while.

    Even though I believe that dehydration and proper nutrition was the cause in my case, I have strong reasons to believe that the air quality had to do something with it as well. See previous time it occured when I went to the gym lockers (after finishing my workout) where there was no air conditioning at all. This time it occurred when I was doing demanding bodyweight exercises at home (approximately after a week since last workout due to my exams). As soon as I walked into the kitchen where the windows were wide open, I felt better.

    The whole thing lowers my self esteem since I am able to do a 10k run without any issues and also been exercising since I was 12. It is very frustrating when this happens, especially when someone workouts regularly, but we should all remember the most important rule:

    “Always listen to your body”

    This is the best advice I was ever given and this is what we should also take out from this whole situation. Proper nutrition, hydration, enough sleep and proper workout environment are just a few things that we should all have in mind.

    Once again, thank you for this great article.

    Eric (22)

    1. Eric thank you very much for this!
      @Air quality
      See that is the reason why I prefer open gyms; you know the street gyms with no airconditioning; the air is just good and it circulates properly.

      I know that feeling of esteem loss, the reason why I went home when I felt that I was about to faint – that is just not something I would like the other kids to see, especially the ones who admire me and the way I train.

      @10 k runs

      About that it is indeed possible to faint even if you could run miles, when running long distances your body uses a different fuel that when you do high intensity short bursts of force like the ones you do in the gym – especially if you follow the regimen that prioritizes moves such as squats, deadlifts, etc like the one we use here. Lifts often use up your body’s glycogen stores whihc is the reason why you might faint when lifting and feel hypoglycemic.

      Thanks and I am glad that I was able to help!

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    time writing, i know how to save you a lot of work, there is a tool
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    just type in google – k2 unlimited content

  7. Thank you for the useful tips. It happened to me a while ago, for the first time. I usually run between 6-7km per session on the treadmill and sometimes I do 10km when I run outdoor. But today was a bit strange, it was just less than 20 minutes in the gym when I started sweating heavily and felt dizzy. I stopped for a while thinking it might go away by doing lunges and continued running for another 5 minutes, and that was it! My vision became dark and blurry, I was panting and all everything that you described in your article. I even had to press my hand on the wall to balance myself. Thank God the gym is just in my apartment complex and I quickly left and drank some water and immediately laid on the floor for a few minutes. Felt a bit better after that. I find it weird since I had something light before working out. Now I know I should stop immediately if this happens again as it can be dangerous and that is scary! Once again thank you for the awesome article 🙂

  8. Umm… it does not necessarily mean you are hypoglycemic actually. It could mean you have pushed yourself too hard, and when you are breathing hard and fast you are decreasing your CO2 levels, which decreases your drive to breathe ultimately. Also, when you have low CO2 levels it causes a vasoconstriction in the brain, and this leads to decreased blood flow to the brain, which in turn causes you to pass out. Once you pass out your CO2 levels will begin to climb again to a normal level, and your breathing will also kick back in.

  9. You really make it appear so easy along with your presentation but I in finding this matter to be really something which I believe I
    would never understand. It seems too complex and extremely extensive for me.
    I am having a look forward in your next publish, I will attempt
    to get the cling of it!

  10. hi,
    nice article,though the technical terms did not make much sense to a novice like me,
    i totally agree with the post.
    in my experience,whenever i had to go long times without food and yet piled upon
    tension and intensity i have faced light head-edness dizzy-ness and extreme fatigue
    to the point that the first thing that comes to mind is to immediately sit or lie down
    with arms spread.it’s quite a stunning feel with ears and head buzzing.
    in case there have been cases of missed/skipped meal the workout becomes quiet
    intense by itself (sort of over compensation) and this suddenly leads to the weakness.
    i agree that workouts should be followed in a calm balanced way with proper nutrition.
    and in case a meal has been skipped,the person should stick to basic stretching and
    warms ups only,that too for a limited time till body gets refreshed.
    that’s why we have rest days in between intensity training to help body to recuperate.
    workout on pure liquid diets should also be avoided,unless there are solids and grains
    in food.
    even then its a good advice to check with physician from time to time with such occurrences.
    maybe that’s the way we learn from errors.
    have a question too, if such a case exists wouldn’t it be proper to have a good dinner,if
    workouts are to be done in the morning or does it still hold that breakfast should be a bit
    ‘heavy’ and dinner skimpy ?
    thanks for the post Mr. ironthumb.

    1. No worries,

      With meals
      you definitely need to eat before a workout as long as you allow at least 1 and a half hour for the food to be digested before working out it will be fine. (off course it could take longer for some)

  11. Wow this happens to me when I do the power yoga and they do a lot of holding poses like downward dog or when i do a lot of interval training with weights and little breaks. I just feel like I’m going to faint and sometimes I feel my hearing dim. I just slow down and continue on, except for yoga I need to stop because the feeling lasts for a few days. Definitely diluted Gatorade and eating something more, like dried fruit and protein help.

    1. Glad that you get over it!
      Anyways it’s usually just dehydration and lack of sleep the night (or day if you work at night) beforehand

      Tell us more about your yoga training, my friend!
      Is that the “fitness yoga” or is that the “meditative” yoga?

  12. Sir,

    I nearly passed out today, I was about to finish my spinning session when I could feel the body having no fuel. I had done squats prior to that.

    I started panting and my pulse was dropping and everything went weird like I was disjointed from the world. The gym trainers laid me on the ground, gave me a glucose tablet and made me raise my legs. 5 seconds later, I was coherent again.

    EMS came in and they checked my BP/Pulse/Sugar levels. They were all fine.

    I recovered from flu last week and was low on sleep and fluids.

    Thanks for your blog, it made me feel better and not a wuss.

    1. Sir! I am glad to have helped you!

      See, there, most of the time its just lack of sleep paired with high-glucose consuming exercise (like good ol’ squats).

      I urge you to do more basic compound lifts so your body would get used to it. You have to do it with a weight you culd carry for no more than 12 reps but you don’t really need to reach failure for squats, you can do 5 by 5 for strength and basic conditioning.

      For you fainting and recovering, I guess you really have your gym’s staff to thanks for that, good for you they have a great protocol


  13. Thank you for this information, I blacked out in spin class and wasnt alright for a while after, but on my way to work I saw a DD and got egg white on a flat bread and that helped! Thank You

  14. Came across ur blog. Man thank u for the info. I had a suspension that it might have bn any of those issues but I believe it was lack of food and a hard workout. Had to sit still for awhile but had a pb sandwich and am feeling better. Thank u for the info. Keep up the good work

    1. Thanks Billy! I am not sure what do you mean by suspensions – perhaps you are refering to your Workout gear? Right?

      Yeah maybe check it out as well if it is too occlusive. Maybe it blocks blood flow quite a bit especially if its too tight

  15. When do we have to eat before working out? and when do we rest or stop from eating before working out?

    1. You should have had eaten at least 2 hours before working out. Preferably not junk food but hight quality home cooked meal. The point is to have your cells saturated with nutrients before working out. Slow digesting foods like oats or fat and meat are the best for this.

  16. Hi! Great article! today I had an intense 15 mnt workout (for fast fat burn) at the end my vision became blurry and dark, I think the problem was that had ice cream 2hrs prior, not good choice I guess . Next time going for the oatmeal or banana.

    1. having ice cream has nothing to do with it – I love ice cream too (cookies and cream is my favorite!)

      but if you had NOTHING but ice cream, then perhaps you got hypo glyce’d.

      Anyways also don’t forget to mention that next time you consult doc


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