T Nation

How Do You Handle Crappy Workouts?


tonight my shoulders seemed really tight and i couldnt do my dips the way i normally do and everything felt forced so i tried to focus on doing other exercises and did more sets than i normally do to make up for it

why does this happen every now and again, can cold weather factor into this?

so what do you guys do?


When this does occasionally happen to me, I'll go home and try again the next day or do some light recovery work.

If I'm cold, I'll go for a jog to warm up but usually it's because I haven't eaten enough or I'm just tired.

Funny thing is if I don't feel like going to the gym but end up going anyway, I often have the best workouts.


dips are a funny one for me - i never count my first set but i just go deeper each rep for this starting warmup set - first rep i maybe only go 1/4 or 1/3 down and each rep i get a few inches deeper until i hit rock bottom and bust out three or for full ones. then i'm ready to go!


I figure there are way too many intangibles involed in having a good or bad workout. Some days, everything's firing, other days, you just seem 'off'. I chalk it up and do my best without worrying too much about the particulars. if my weighst are down, I may do an extra set or two. If a particular exercise makes me feel a 'twinge', I'll pick something else, usually an exzercise I prefer not to do, or haven't done in a while.



Sometimes I can get pissed enough about sucking and it fires me up. Most of the time though I just grind though it trying to ignore all those voices in my head that say just quit or hit it hard tomorrow. That's the worst, when those voices are just screaming in your head.


Yesterday I got so sick during my workout I had to stop after 4 sets of bench, 3 sets up pull-ups and 1 set of dips... felt like I was going to puke for the next 1/2 hour. (I think I had my protein shake too close to my workout)

Anyways, today I spaced out the shake and had one of the best leg workouts I've had in a while. So it all evens out, just gotta brush off the bad ones and live for the good ones!


In the long run, that one individual workout really means nothing. It is the string of consistent, progressive workouts that produces results. This thinking, gets me through crappy workouts psychologically.


I just do one set of what I was going to do that day at a light weight (like squats or deadlifts).

And then I'll do a lot of curl variations for some reason.

Don't know why.


It just happens. Like Stu said, there are too many factors to dwell on it. I just do what I can to get through the workout and then try again next time.

For example, today I had a crappy workout. My right shoulder was bothering me, so I changed a few exercises and did what I could to train around it and get through the workout. I'll rest up, have a big meal tonight and look forward to the next workout.


I had a workout where I started with the bench press and I kept hitting the damn posts and it knocked me off balance and I had to lower the bar on myself and roll it off of me.

That totally blew that to hell, I just went on with the rest of my workout after I stopped cussing.

The rest went ok and I learned how to position myself better so I don't do that again.

So just learn from it and go on, there will be other workouts to improve upon.


I examine what it was that gave me a crappy workout.

If it's stress/loss of focus, I'll wear headphones.

If it's feelings of weakness, I'll finish my workout and then eat a ton.

If I'm just tired, well, I'll wait till next time around and try and get more sleep until then.


first, get over it.

second, evaluate. determine what possibilities could have had a direct impact.

i would say a good portion of the time you can attribute the cause to diet, rest, or stress.

the other thing you have to keep in mind is the human body isnt a machine and there are many variables which can affect it. something in your body which you arent conscious of could be taking place. maybe youre fighting something off and now you exerted a lot by doing so so you arent completely prepared to tax the CNS. you could be stressed from work, or school, or lovelife, or anything. you could have to take a shit, it could literally be anything.

just pack it up and go at it another day.learn to communicate with yourself better. your body often tells you things because its imperitive. sleep when youre tired, eat when hungry. your body knows what its doing.


I can always tell before the workout if it's going to be good. If I am going to be weak because I had little sleep that night, or I'm sick, I won't workout. It is a waste of time to workout when your performance is down. If you are feeling unmotivated, caffeine is very useful.


This is the way I try to think. Usually there is some progress/improvement somewhere for me to feel good about, but usually I'll just be pissed about the one set I stalled on.


I'm the opposite, I'll have awesome workouts when I feel like shit, and mediocre workouts when I feel great. Of course, I'm still a beginner. When I'm moving dangerously heavy weight I'll probably have to pay more attention to my body.


If I am feeling a bit flat the first thing
I do is adjust my hat. Then I will change the music I am listening too. If that doesn't help I turn up the volume. If all that doesn't help usually I'll go get a drink of water.

I try to blame things that aren't really the problem to block out the possibility that it is actually me. That way I can get over it and keep going.


If I'm not focused and my workout is suffering, I will ditch whatever I'm doing for an exercise I love. That usually gets me moving enough to focus on the task I avoided.

Of course, it never seems to work for cardio.