Has this ever happened to you?
It’s getting close to the end of the work day. You’re sitting at your desk, staring at the clock (or maybe you’re one of those crazy morning workout people and you’re sitting in bed). You know you need to leave now if you’re going to make your Group Training session. Your gym bag is already in your car all packed and ready to go. But you just can’t bring yourself to go.
You had a long day at work. That “quick” 30 minute meeting ended up going over an hour. You had to work through lunch, which meant scarfing down your food while trying not to get it all over your clothes. The last thing that you want to do is go to the gym and give it 100% – which means you don’t want to go at all. If you can’t give it your all, why even go? Right?
Well, you actually don’t have to be at 100% (physically or mentally) to still get benefits out of working out. Realistically, there will only be a FEW days where you do feel 100%.
And those days when you aren’t feeling the best – when the LAST thing you want to do is go through a tough workout – are the most important.
Here’s the simple way I approach my workouts and hope that it helps you put your own workouts into perspective as well:
Out of all the workouts that you do, about 10% of them will be those times when you feel at your best. These are the days where the heaviest weights feel light. You’re breaking your personal records on multiple exercises. By the time you get done with the metabolic section, you think, “Was that it?” These 10%-feeling great days don’t come around often. Absolutely enjoy them and get as much out of them as you can. But be careful not to get in the mindset that every workout has to be like this.
The majority of your workouts will be 80% days. These are the days where you feel OK. Not great. Not terrible. Just OK. You’re able to do all the exercises. Maybe you can increase the weights a little bit more than last week. Maybe it’s a struggle just to do the same as last week. But it definitely isn’t one of those 10%-feeling great days. And that’s normal.
Maybe you’re in a bad mood from something that happened at work. Maybe you only got 4 hours of sleep last night because your kid got sick. Maybe you ate out last night or weren’t able to eat much for breakfast.There could be hundreds of reasons why. But the point is: your body is rarely prepared to go to the max.
Most of the time it will be “show up, do the work, and go home”. Nothing special. And that is both perfectly normal and expected. Don’t be hard on yourself if you’re not at your best every time. No one is.
For a few of your workouts, you’ll feel terrible going into it. These are the days that you contemplate not going at all. There’s no way you’ll be able work out hard. Why bother? The truth is, these are the most important days to go to the gym. Most everyone here at Pursuit is in it for the long haul. You’re doing this because you envision yourself living a different style of life. You’re here to better yourself. To become the best version of YOU possible. And that requires CONSISTENCY.
Now this doesn’t mean when you are having one of the 10%-feeling terrible days that you need to push yourself to the limit in the workout. Maybe you lift half of what you normally would for a given exercise. Or you only get through half the reps as you usually can do. Heck, maybe you just do the warm-up a few times and call it a day. All that matters is you kept with your workout routine. You were consistent. Long-term, that’s what matters most. Not how hard you pushed it in any one workout.
Here’s a real life example of how this plays out. For those that may not know, we recently got back from our First (hopefully Annual) Pursuit Fitness Ski Trip. For the four days on the mountain, I spent over 30 hours snowboarding. The last thing I wanted to do the first day back from the trip was workout. My muscles were sore from all the snowboarding. My body was sore from all the falling. (Seriously, there was a lot of falling.) It would have been easy to think “I don’t feel my best. I may as well not workout today and skip it.”
The problem with this is that I would now be getting out of my normal routine. Also, I would start getting the mindset that if I’m not at my best, I can’t workout. And like mentioned above, you’re rarely feeling your best. Instead of doing that, I told myself, “Today is a 10%-feeling terrible day. Just do whatever I can and call it good.”I didn’t lift close to what I normally would. I was essentially just going through the motions. And that was exactly what I needed. I didn’t beat myself up about not doing awesome. I gave myself permission to not be at my best, and I lived to fight another day.
The next week? A bunch of 80%’s. My body was still recovering from the Ski Trip. I was getting readjusted to the early morning workouts (really, those 5am people are nuts). It would have been foolish to think that I should be able to lift more weight than normal or push myself more than usual. My body wasn’t prepared for it. I simply showed up, did the work (whatever I could do that day), and called it a day. It wasn’t until over two weeks back from the trip that I had one of those fabled 10%-feeling great days.
So how does this apply to YOU?
Give yourself permission to not always be at your best in the gym. No, I’m not telling you to slack off and not challenge yourself.
But you don’t have to go out and try to kill yourself every workout. Your body is rarely prepared to handle going all out, all the time.
Embrace the fact that most of your workouts will feel just OK. You lifted some good weight, challenged yourself a bit, and got a little sweat going. Nothing major.
And those days when the last thing you feel like doing is going to the gym, those are the days that matter most. Do whatever you can to get in the gym. Even if it means going through the warmup and calling it a day.
Keep your routine.
PFP Certified Training Specialist