5 Ways to turn a “bad” workout into a good one

It just happens; we are on a roll with our training, feeling good and strong. We come in for one workout feeling charged up, ready to rock and as soon as we start we just feel “off”. Your body doesn’t feel right and it’s not responding to the way we are use to. Exercises and weights that felt great last week just feel hard and heavy; you’re struggling to get through half of what you did last time.

Talk about a way to mess with someone’s ego and feelings of progress.

Guys this just happens every so often, I’ve been through it plenty of times and I’ve seen a number of my clients go through it. Part of being a trainer is seeing this with not only my clients but myself and having a plan for when this happens. So below I’ve listed several ways that I’ve used so that you can turn the tables and get back in a grove of having an awesome workout.

  • Move on – as soon as you feel off just stop and move onto the next exercise. No reason to continue to mess with your psyche or risk injury.
  • Do a changeup – Completely do the opposite that your workout depicted for that day. If you were going to lift heavy cut the weight and increase your reps or sets, go from bilateral to unilateral work. Examples: two arm chest press to just one arm. Double leg squat to just a single leg squat.
  • Marathon set – These is pretty similar to the previous bullet point but really lighten the weight up and go for some ridiculous amount of reps (50-100). You may think I’m crazy but I promise that you’ll have done something that you probably haven’t done before and honestly that right there is how progress is made.
  • Do only one exercise – If you know of an exercise that just gets you the right way stick with it the entire workout. Not just two or three sets but sets of 10, 12, 15 or 20 sets…. promise you’ll feel it the next day J
  • Stop – We hate to admit it but some days there are just going to be bad workouts, this could be your body saying that it needs an extra day. Remember there is a difference in feeling mentally well vs. physically or biomechanically well. So take that extra day, come back tomorrow and you’ll rock it out!

I have personally done each one of these and must say that I always feel like I had my butt handed to me and walked away with some feeling of accomplishment and progress.

This is going go happen and the worst thing that you can do is try to force it (I’m assuming you know the difference between being lazy and an “off” day), get hurt or just break down yourself worth and feelings of progress with your workouts. What we do in this world should be a stress reliever not inducer; so if you feel the dreaded “off” day in your workout coming on just do one of the listed above methods and I can assure you that you’ll have a great workout and be back on track in no time 🙂


In Health and Fitness,

Travis Merritt


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  1. Travis, I had that “off” day last Thursday…and as much as we wanted my training session to go well… it turned out that we needed to just sit down and talk…and take a break from working out for a few days. Shoot,that was hard… not working out leads to migraines for me….working out relieves stress…

    So,on my next “off” day..and yes,we know I’ll have another…. I’m just going to go get a massage..and then dance alone !!!

    See you tomorrow…it’s going to be a good day!

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