T Nation

When You Have a Bad Workout-Do You Get Down about it?


#1

How do you respond? Mentally? I am the kind of guy that goes over and over it in my head and it bothers me. I mean, I broke my PR's last week and got over 4 plate T-bar Rows for the first time and broke my squat 5RM PR (2 days ago) and my Shoulder Press PR. So, PR's were getting broken.

But today, my back workout was terrible. I did some light squatting and set myself up for the deadlift. I had not deadlifted in 3 weeks but before I had a break from deadlifting I was deadlifting 150kg 1x5, easily. Today, I could not even manage 140kg for 3 reps. I then went to do some t-bar rows, bad idea. I could not get past 2-3 reps on my working weight. The dumbbells also felt heavier than normal today. I was so angry with myself.

I know I am not likely to have lost any muscle, but I know I have to keep on track. I know the cause of my bad performance. I had a bad sleeping pattern on the weekend because of the boxing match. I had soda and potato chips , I don't think I ate enough food.

But it makes you think, that once you get to an intermediate sort of level, these things matter a lot... I realise, the amount of discipline required to recover enough to perform well, is high.


#2

It can fuck with you mentally that is for sure. I think the key is to understand your body isn’t going to always perform how you want it to and temper your expectations accordingly especially if you know your performance is likely not going to be top notch (because you slept for 4 hours or ate chips all day).

It doesn’t surprise me one bit about your deadlift. I’m sure 140kg felt like it was glued to the floor. I think what you experienced is pretty normal and if you’re prepared mentally for it you can overcome it.


#3

[quote]usmccds423 wrote:
It can fuck with you mentally that is for sure. I think the key is to understand your body isn’t going to always perform how you want it to and temper your expectations accordingly especially if you know you’re performance is likely not going to be top notch (because you slept for 4 hours or ate chips all day).

It doesn’t surprise me one bit about your deadlift. I’m sure 140kg felt like it was glued to the floor. I think what you experienced is pretty normal and if you’re prepared mentally for it you can overcome it. [/quote]

Diet was fine, but I ate too little , like a couple hundred calories short. And I was filling some couple hundred calories with soda and chips.
Sleep, I slept for 4 hours, stayed up to watch the fight then had an uncomfortable sleep for a couple more hours.

This added together made me feel crap. Because I squatted my 5RM PR that day and I think it made my recovery go wack.

But yeah… it makes you think, that the further you go with this journey, the more you have to have things on point and be responsible.


#4

[quote]renatus wrote:

But it makes you think, that once you get to an intermediate sort of level, these things matter a lot… I realise, the amount of discipline required to recover enough to perform well, is high. [/quote]

It’s the opposite for me. The more time and effort I’ve put in, I’ve come to realize - even expect - bad days. They don’t even bother me anymore.

What’s more important is “Am I better than last month… last year?” It’s more long term for me now.


#5

Bad days are not as prominent when you are consistently lifting week in, week out, year after year. Bad days are still good because you were still in the gym training. That’s what it really comes down to.


#6

I am not at the gym to win gym-ing, I am there to prepare for competing and/or to get stronger. I don’t beat myself up for a bad workout, but I’ll do my best to make up for it the rest of the week.

On those days that I’m not feeling 100% I make a promise to myself that no matter what, I’ll get through my working sets. I might even lower my top set if I think I’ll miss it, but I’ll get the work done. I have sort of minimum and a max for volume, so I stay in there. A lot of the time I fell better having done that, so the accessory work goes easier.


#7

After a new personal record, you could just be a little tired. 3 all out prs in one week? you’re definetly run down. That’s almost like a power lifting meet, only with MORE work, because you did other lifts during those workouts. Your performance will be a little off till you recover. Add staying up late, and some bad eating and you extend how long it will take to recover.

I know everyone says to focus on progression, but its not realistic to expect to get stronger, every session on every lift day after day.

Sleep a little extra, hydrate. Use weights around 80% of your new prs for a session or 2. You’ll be rolling again in no time.


#8

Rather than getting down about a bad workout, I try to get the most out of it.

This happened to me about a month ago I think. My deadlift 1rm was 555. Then one training session, I failed on a 525 deadlift, and 505 felt way too heavy too. Since I didn’t believe i’d just gotten weak, I took a long, hard look at my form, all aspects of it. I eventually came to the conclusion that I was getting too mentally aggressive on my deadlift setup, and moving through it too quickly. I watched a few videos, specifically of Jesse Norris, and completely changed the way I initiated the pull. Now I’m utilizing my leverages much better, and in my last session I hit 545 for 2 singes.

The bottom line was that if I hadn’t had such a bad lifting session, I wouldn’t have taken to the time to get back to the basics and figure out what I was doing wrong. In your case, I doubt coming up 200 calories short the day before a workout should matter at all. That’s really minor. Take a look at everything else as well. Make sure that whatever was holding you back in this session doesn’t happen again.


#9

[quote]FlatsFarmer wrote:
After a new personal record, you could just be a little tired. 3 all out prs in one week? you’re definetly run down. That’s almost like a power lifting meet, only with MORE work, because you did other lifts during those workouts. Your performance will be a little off till you recover. Add staying up late, and some bad eating and you extend how long it will take to recover.

I know everyone says to focus on progression, but its not realistic to expect to get stronger, every session on every lift day after day.

Sleep a little extra, hydrate. Use weights around 80% of your new prs for a session or 2. You’ll be rolling again in no time.[/quote]

" 3 all out prs in one week? "

It happened because last week I was recovering well, I was eating as much as I needed to feel good and energetic for 2 weeks (i.e. going over planned calories). Of course, there was no fat gains because I was working very hard in the gym. Also, the 3 week break from deadlifts made me feel a lot more energetic for the other lifts.

Don’t know how much it contributed, but I managed to db shoulder press the 32.5kg dumbbells for 7 reps. I felt the pumping, it was great controlled pressing.
Squat? Difficult as always but the PR happened after a long plateau. T-bar row, form was not perfect but the pump was great, it felt good to get over 4 plates.

After 1 year and 3 months of training, I have pretty much worked out that my weakness is my back, it is the hardest part to build up for me. My shoulders are very good, legs develop very well, good traps, chest not too bad. The back is a lagging point.


#10

[quote]flipcollar wrote:
Rather than getting down about a bad workout, I try to get the most out of it.

This happened to me about a month ago I think. My deadlift 1rm was 555. Then one training session, I failed on a 525 deadlift, and 505 felt way too heavy too. Since I didn’t believe i’d just gotten weak, I took a long, hard look at my form, all aspects of it. I eventually came to the conclusion that I was getting too mentally aggressive on my deadlift setup, and moving through it too quickly. I watched a few videos, specifically of Jesse Norris, and completely changed the way I initiated the pull. Now I’m utilizing my leverages much better, and in my last session I hit 545 for 2 singes.

The bottom line was that if I hadn’t had such a bad lifting session, I wouldn’t have taken to the time to get back to the basics and figure out what I was doing wrong. In your case, I doubt coming up 200 calories short the day before a workout should matter at all. That’s really minor. Take a look at everything else as well. Make sure that whatever was holding you back in this session doesn’t happen again.

[/quote]

Your physique looks great, and natural. Definitely commendable.


#11

I have “bad day PRs”. If I am having a bad day, I try to beat my record from my last bad day.

If you can be stronger on your worst day than most people are on their best, you are getting somewhere.


#12

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:
I have “bad day PRs”. If I am having a bad day, I try to beat my record from my last bad day.

If you can be stronger on your worst day than most people are on their best, you are getting somewhere.[/quote]

I like that.


#13

This is one of the big reasons I love high frequency lifting. When you have a bad day, there is literally always tomorrow.


#14

I’ve found that still pushing thru as hard as you can, actually creates a super compensation effect the following week on that same lift. Time n time again for me…


#15

[quote]TheKraken wrote:
I am not at the gym to win gym-in[/quote]

Poor attitude*

*made me LOl


#16

Feeling frustration is normal and a sign that you give a shit. However, letting your performance on any given training day affect your training session is for pussies. Focus on getting shit done no matter how you feel & perform day in and day out is what matters. Put you head and work hard. Get satisfaction from putting in the hard work, rather than displaying performance (PRs).


#17

I find that on bad days, I put in the minimum required work of my “planned” workout, ie. my 5/3/1 sets, equal a rep PR. I’ll then do something “different”, my assistance work will just go out the window and I make something up on the spot that I feel motivated to do. I usually find that by having no real expectations for myself in the random section of the workout, I can push hard and get a win physically and mentally. I’ve even found some awesome ideas this way.


#18

[quote]infinite_shore wrote:
Get satisfaction from putting in the hard work, rather than displaying performance (PRs).[/quote]

yes. Continued hard work will lead to more PRs, so don’t fret over the bad days too much. Also use them as a tool to identify weaknesses and assess how you respond to your current programming.

If you are a peaking for a competition and dropping lifts though, you may have to re-think your intentions for the big day.


#19

I even think the bad days are more important that the good ones. Even lazy people can get in and get good work done when they feel great. The difference between average and great is who?s under a bar grinding when they feel like crap.


#20

Take a step back and be realistic about it. Bad days happen, and that’s normal and to be expected. Then take a look at what happened in the lead up to the bad session.

I read what you said OP and it almost exactly mirrors my last week and last session (yesterday): I hit a bunch of squat, bench and DL rep PRS last week, had a good, solid session Wednesday and bombed Thursday (couldn’t even finish half my planned session). It bugged the hell out of me until I looked back over last week and then it hit me that while I’d hit all those rep PRS my recovery between last week and this week hadn’t been good enough to come back from those PRs and keep going.

Like Flatsfarmer said, PRs cost. They’re worth it, and show you’re progressing well, but they still take time to recover from.