Bad Workouts

10636655_825123334213590_3638513336532164734_o“For every four workouts you do: one will be great, one will be terrible, and two will be average at best.”

-Alex Viada

You know what sucks? Bad workouts. You know what you’re going to have? Bad workouts. With that in mind…

1. Great workouts are something we’re after and aim for every time we’re in the gym – but when they don’t happen we shouldn’t be surprised. Good days, bad days. Your life is not over, your fitness career is not finished, you’re not withering away into a shell of your former self, destined to live the rest of your life in an alley surrounded by hookers, hypodermic needles, and garbage.

2. This is an area where simple programming shines because it can easily adapt to how an athlete is performing to make the best of a workout. While it might not be great, being able to effectively and painlessly modify a workout without a great deal of stress or confusion can cause an athlete to still walk away feeling successful.

3. Modifying a workout is not “quitting”. It’s being smart and making the best of the day. Putting more weight on the bar and getting obliterated because “the program says 90%” is stupid, making things worse, and you deserve whatever is coming to you.

4. When a workout is sub-par, it doesn’t mean a change of course, diet, program, or coaching is necessary. It could hint that direction. But it’s easy to fall into the trap of “I was feeling tired today so I should eat 500 more carbs” or “I was feeling weak today so I am weak I need more strength work”.

5. Don’t do things that make you responsible for a bad workout. I’ve had people come to the gym hungover, on 3 hours of sleep, or only ate cheeze-its the days before and wonder why their workout sucked.

“How much sleep did you get last night?”

“4 hours, but it’s not that.”


If you’re responsible, take responsibility. If not, do the work, punch out, and come back tomorrow.

Related article: “When Great Preparation Produces Lousy Training” – Matt Foreman, Catalyst Athletics

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