Knowing When to Pivot For a Better Workout
About a month ago I attended a workshop put on by a company called Active Life Rx. In the workshop we learned how to do simple movement screenings that can give us a lot of insight as to what people need to work on in terms of their mobility, flexibility, or strength imbalances. I have put a couple people through some of these screenings, and am more than happy to work with anyone who is interested in going through the screenings. If you see me just ask about doing a screening, so we can set up a day and time to do it! Aside from the great workshop, they put out a lot of quality multimedia content. I came across a picture that, despite its simplicity in words, really resonated with what I see occur in the gym from time to time, and I think gives insight into something that happens to everyone from time to time. It simply said, “Some days, you just don’t have it.” While some may view this as a cop out, a way to take the easier road, I view this as a way to really listen to your body and how you are currently feeling. Its not every day that you’re going to hit a PR, that you’re going to absolutely crush it, and thats okay! We are all human. We have to deal with lots of different things in our lives that can inhibit our ability to perform at our maximal physical potential. Some days its more important to listen to your body and only ask what its capable on that day.
Recently I was teaching a class and someone had come up to me a couple minutes into long workout and told me that they weren’t feeling it, and that they were just going to go home. Me three years ago would have pushed them to grind through it, push past whatever they felt was holding them back, but I can see clearly now thats more often than not, the wrong way to go about that kind of situation. The activity they were doing normally feels very routine for them, something they know they can do with ease, but on that day it was much tougher than usual. This is a simple way to realize that your body is not ready to operate at very high intensity levels, and that is okay! You can’t expect yourself to be operating at your peak performance level at all times, the body just doesn’t work that way. There are a number of potential contributors that can cause this situation: you didn’t get enough sleep, you had a very hard workout the day before you still aren’t recovered from, you are very stressed from work, it could be a number of things. The thing we have to realize is that when we are stressed out from something, whether its physical, mental, or emotional, it resonates in the body the same way.
If you do find yourself in this situation, it doesn’t mean you have to throw in the towel every-time. You can also choose to pivot in your workout and change something about it that will be more suitable to how you feel that day. Full depth squats feeling really uncomfortable today? Do box squats. You normally do advanced weight on power cleans, but today it feels like a 1rm? Do the Rx’d weight. Your normal pacing for movements feels to fast? Slow it down, don’t even worry about your score, and just focus on movement quality. In all those examples you still get to walk away from your workout feeling like you’ve accomplished something, and thats because YOU HAVE. Don’t ever feel like changing the way you workout for one day is going to make you less of a person. And yes, sometimes the best option is just to go back home and relax for a bit before going to work or get some extra relaxation time. I can guarantee that a one day pivot will not be detrimental to your fitness. Your fitness level is comprised of the habits that you have formulated over a long period of time, not one squat session, or one met con. If anything, pivoting on necessary days will actually benefit you MORE than trying to push past it. You feeling like you are at a much lower capacity is your bodies way of telling you that something is off, and you need to be mindful of that.
While we need to be mindful of how we are feeling on a day to day basis, we also need to be mindful of how often we feel like, “we just don’t have it.” If it is happening more than a few times a month, you need to look at lifestyle factors like stress, diet, and sleep. Stress, diet, and sleep is something we have the most control over in our lives and when something is unbalanced in these categories, it can spill over into our day to day activities, especially training. If you are layering in high intensity training on top of bad sleep, and diet patterns, its a recipe for something to go wrong. Be mindful of what is going on in your life, how you are feeling on a day to day basis, and whether or not you need to employ a change somewhere. If you would like to discuss this topic any further, or have a question about it, I am more than happy to discuss it with any of you. I really do enjoy getting to have great conversations with people about these kinds of topics!
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