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Bad workouts, or workouts where you didn’t quite perform to the best of your ability can be demotivating…We all have them. Even the people who post out all of their PB’s in the gym of them benching 120 kg for 10 reps, or squatting a really heavy weight etc. They just want you to see them doing really well.
Everyone has those days in the gym where they just don’t perform, and I’m here to tell you
So don’t get upset or frustrated because you couldn’t lift the weight, it doesn’t make you a failure. And believe me I know what it’s like to feel like you’ve had a rubbish workout in the gym, because I get annoyed with myself as well, it’s hard sometimes.
But I’ve learnt in my short five years of training (yes that’s still short in the grand scheme of things) not to let the distractions of not performing to the best of my ability distract me from my whole workout, because if you allow the fact that you didn’t perform in one area affect you, then the rest of your workout is going to feel awful.
Sometimes you need to take two steps back in order to take ten steps forward. Now, there are going to some reasons for why you may not have performed as well as you should have, and I’ll list some of them below.
You may just be struggling because you’re tired, and haven’t had an adequate amount of sleep to make it through your whole workout. So always aim to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep per night. That way you can ensure you are recovering properly and you’ll feel a lot more refreshed in the morning, ready to seize the day and your workout.
Here are some tips for getting a better nights sleep:
- Have a bed time so you get a similar amount of sleep each night and your body gets “used” to how many hours you need to sleep.
- Reduce caffeine consumption at least 4 hours before bed
- Reduce fluid intake in the evening, so you don;t need to go to the toilet in the middle of the night!
- Steer clear of technology directly before bed, read a book, do some chores or even better, do some meal prep. The blue light from screens has been shown to affect sleep patterns.
If you haven’t eaten enough food leading up to your workout, or even the right foods leading up to your workout so that you are getting the most out of your session, then this is going to be another reason why you might be struggling to perform in the gym.
You want to ensure that you are structuring a decent amount of food around your workouts. Ideally you’ll want to start the day by having a breakfast fuelled by a source of carbohydrates such as porridge oats, with a source of protein, which could be whey protein, eggs, high protein Greek yoghurt (Liberte, Skyr, Fage etc).
The combination of carbohydrates and protein is not only going to give you the energy you need to fuel the session but the protein will help assist in the repair and recovery process.
If you train early morning and can’t stomach a full meal, a piece of fruit (fast digesting carbohydrates) and a protein shake or BCAA’s will suffice.
If you like to train fasted (without food) then making sure you are adequately fuelled from the day before will help, along with sipping on some BCAA’s (Branch Chain Amino Acids) throughout the workout to meet your protein requirements and create a more anabolic environment.
Alongside this, make sure you are fuelling your body with the correct amount of protein, carbs and fats throughout the day in line with your goal. By ensuring that you are eating enough, you are providing your body with the essential nutrients from your foods so that you can perform to the best of your ability in the gym.
If you’re unsure how to do this, what foods to eat and how much you need to eat we can help.
Another reason for your poor performance could just be the fact that you need to have a week in which you deload your training. A deload essentially means that you take a step back from your training in terms of volume and intensity i.e. weight/sets & reps etc…Without actually taking a full week off training.
A deload week allows for you CNS (Central Nervous System) to recover, and to give your whole body a rest whilst still being able to go to the gym and perform the same movements, just at a lower intensity.
For beginners, if you’ve just started training then you probably don’t need to deload, this mainly applies to people who have a little bit more training experience under their belt, and is more likely to be one (or both) of the first two reasons why you’re finding your workouts difficult, either way a deload is still a good way to recover, so do so if necessary.
There are a few ways that you can deload, here are some examples below:
- Reduce your normal working weight by 10% (This is something I would always do during a deload week),
- Reduce your work sets by 1. For example if you normally do 4 sets, then you would do 3 sets during your deload week.
- Reduce your rep range, perform less reps etc. So again, similar to point 2. If your rep range is 8 – 12 for a particular exercise I’d suggest performing 8 reps. But it also depends on how you feel. I always use point 1 & 2 during a deload, and just base the reps on how I feel.
You can schedule deloads into your training program every 4 – 8 weeks. The more experienced you are, the more often you will need to deload. Deload weeks can be boring because it can often feel like a wasted workout, and it doesn’t seem as if you’ve really done anything. But I can guarantee that you will benefit from doing them.
The main point of this post is that if you’re having a bad workout, don’t worry. Don’t beat yourself up, and allow it to ruin the rest of your workout, or even your day! We all have them, even us trainers here at The Performance Project. Get back up, forget what just happened and continue to push forward.
And just in case you think I’m all talk, here’s me failing a set of squats on the 4th rep when I had programmed to get 5…
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