Dealing with Bad Days

We’ve all had these days.

When you’re not feeling like yourself before you get to the gym and you just don’t want to be there. Perhaps your body is sore. Maybe you just feel flat.

How do you know whether to push through, lower the load, or skip the session altogether?

Recently I wrote about mindset. There is a time and a place to push through. But there is also a time when you should take it easier, or even take a day off. Let’s run through some scenarios.

Missing lifts isn’t fun…
📸: @daviewarren_photofitt


One of the most important things you can do is learn the difference between regular soreness from training and something more sinister. This is an important difference that helps you make decisions to push through or pull back. Context is everything here.

You’ve Been Training Harder then Usual

If you’ve recently been doing extra training – or had a hard session, then it is likely expected that you feel a bit fatigued. You’re doing more work, so your body is working hard to recover. This is perfectly normal.

But you still need to decide – should you push through? Or call it?

Firstly, how sore are you? If you have extreme soreness, no question. Lower the loads you’ll be using or do some form of active recovery. But if you’re just a little achy, then perhaps you should push through.

Secondly, how big of a session is it? If it is a heavy or high-volume day then I suggest you scale the weight or skip the session. Save it for a day when the body is up to it. However, if it is a lighter session, then ensure you warm up well and get into it.

Your Training’s Stayed Similar

How about if you haven’t had any harder training sessions, yet there is a spot that feels off? For me, this is a warning sign. In this case, you haven’t added additional stress to the body, but something isn’t right. Why?

Take this as a sign. You haven’t been doing extra work, yet you’re run down and achy. In this case, I would be likely to take things easy.

Your body is telling you something isn’t right – but you have no underlying cause, so perhaps this means there is an issue. Give the body a chance to recover.

It’s Not Always Easy

The above rationale makes this out to be simple. But we all know it isn’t.

You’re an athlete – sometimes you must work through tough sessions when you don’t feel up to it. That is the nature of it.

However, you also must make smart decisions. If you want to still be training for years to come, then taking the odd day off here and there won’t ruin your long-term success.

Listen to your body. Play the long game.

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