How to Adjust Your Workout

Knowing how to adjust your workout when you are not feeling great is a good personal tool to have as an athlete.  For those days when your body is just not responding, it can be very beneficial to have specific options in mind on how to adjust.  Because let’s face it, some days we feel like the hammer and others we feel like the nail.

Sometimes we have workout sessions where we feel like Rocky running up those steps. We feel like we are on top of our game and everything is firing on all cylinders. There is nothing stopping us now. Get out of my way! But for those times when we are feeling less like Rocky and more like a slug, you need a plan.

When You Are Not Feeling 100%

Sometimes this poor performance could be caused by a lack of motivation, or the motivation is there but sickness, general body fatigue, or muscle soreness is your issue.

You may realize that it isn’t your day before you even start your session – like walking into the gym with a cold.  You just know you aren’t going to perform at peak levels.  Or sometimes you realize your body isn’t responding the way it usually does while warming up. All of this is perfectly normal. The experienced athlete knows how to adjust to try and save the session.

If you have been working out consistently or are just getting back in the game, knowing how to adjust your workout session provides a huge advantage. Not every session needs to be an all-out effort. In fact, I highly recommend NOT doing that. Sometimes we need to dial things down or even skip the session completely.

Fitness is built over time. There is no one session that will make you fit. Consistency is the ultimate goal when it comes to raising your fitness level. There is a fine line between pushing through a tough training session when you are not feeling well and doing damage that will cause issues down the road.

4 Options to Consider When You Need to Adjust Your Training Session

  1. Cut the overall duration of workout time but keep the intensity. This could mean dropping a few sets from your normal weight routine or running a bit shorter distance. The thought is to just back off a bit on the overall volume.
  2. Keep the duration but lower the intensity. This is almost similar to number 1, but in practice it is a much different option.  The motivation is there but that normal “push” or “spring-in your-step” is missing. Drop the intensity by 5-10% and see what happens.
  3. Do the Time Only. This means you have zero intensity goals but can only manage to do the total time of the session.
  4. If all of the above sound terrible, consider a completely different activity or simply skip the session. Live to fight another day.

Why Is Your Body Not Responding?

  • Did you recently overdo it?  Think Rocky Hero session, breaking all records, and now you are paying for it.
  • Are you getting quality sleep? Missing even a few hours of sleep can really impact your performance and motivation. The experienced athlete will learn to anticipate a drop in performance if sleep has been missed.
  • Are you eating reasonably healthy?
  • Are you getting the correct amount of calories? Trying to cut calories too aggressively can impact your performance. You may need to revisit your daily calorie count.
  • Are you sick? Or about to get sick?

Big Picture Stuff:

If you simply have lost some motivation and have been very consistent for at least 6 weeks, consider taking a few days off to recover and rest. This can do wonders for your motivation. Your body will also thank you.

For those who are just getting back into fitness, haven’t been that consistent, and have lost motivation take these steps:

  1. Review your goals
  2. Work on Achieving Bulletproof Discipline
  3. If you are not excited for your chosen exercise activity, do something else. It’s not all about ‘going to the gym’ or whatever it is you are doing. Try something else.
  4. Most importantly, don’t get frustrated.

What NOT to do in the coming days

Don’t “make up” for a skipped workout session by doing the next one even harder. Bad idea.

Don’t double up by combining multiple sessions into one big giant one. Bad idea.

Remember that fitness is built over time.  Missing a few sessions can feel like a big deal but in the big picture of your fitness journey but ultimately the value of dialing it back occasionally when needed is more important.

What are your go-to options when you are not feeling yourself but your gym bag is already packed?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

One thought on “How to Adjust Your Workout

  1. Went on a skeeler run last night. Was therefore not a pretty cycle trip to work this morning. The bad sleep due to the hot weather this weekend did not help either!
    Good post

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