Everybody has bad days. Sometimes they start when you get out of bed, but others wait until after lunch, or even once you’ve begun to exercise. Exercise increases the amount of endorphins in your blood stream, lowering the body’s perception of pain and acting as a sedative. Getting your endorphins flowing with a little hard work can pull you right up out of the dumps, especially if you’re already in the midst of a rough day, because hitting the gym can be a great way to relieve stress and clear your head. Bad days might mean you tried to take on the wrong kind of workout. Are you someone who likes group exercise, but was running late and decided to go it on your own, with miserable results? Are you stressing out about something or feeling rushed? Is it hot and humid outside? Are you injured? The answers to these questions can solve most bad gym day problems. The last thing you want to have is a bad workout or let it ruin your otherwise lovely day, so here are several surefire ways to deal with a workout that isn’t going your way.
Get enough sleep. Sleep allows your body time to heal from the last gym session or just daily life. Having a bad night, or a night without enough sleep, can wreak havoc on your body and suck out tons of the energy you plan on using in the gym. One great thing about sleep is the human body’s ability to catch up on it. When skipping a meal, your body misses out, and eating more later won’t make it better. Losing out on a few hours of sleep during the week, however, can be fixed right up with a night or two of twelve hours of rest. While this shouldn’t be a regular practice, and seven to eight hours a night are recommended for most people, it’s good to know there’s a reason you want, and are allowed, to sleep in on Sunday morning.
Eat right. If you read our Balanced Diet Series, you know what and how much to eat on a daily basis. Giving your body the right type of fuel for the workout you have planned is just as, if not more, important than getting enough sleep. Whole grains and less sugar will aid in preventing the exhaustion many people face an hour or two after lunch. Make sure you are properly hydrated before, during and after your session and watch out for caffeine intake, which can wake your body up for a workout, or push it over the limit and cause nausea and shakiness.
Have good goals. The gym can be intimidating with lots of equipment, free weights, classes going on and people who look like they know what they’re doing much more than you do. They probably don’t. Those who have efficient, organized workouts have a plan. They most likely have a schedule based on the day of the week, a set order they perform exercises in, and a specific goal in mind. The best way to overcome the fear of workout failure is to have a goal. Write it down. Look at it every single day. Get together with a fitness professional and discuss both your goal and a path to reach it. Not only will this keep you focused and on track, it prevents boredom and provides a support system in the gym on a daily basis, which is especially nice on those frustrating days.
Beware of over training. Ensure you use a variety of equipment and styles so your body doesn’t get overloaded. Try alternating weight lifting days with cardio days, and always leave at least one day per week for complete rest and recovery. If you start feeling worn down, unusually sore, grouchy, or dreading the gym, it might be time for a few extra days off. Listen to what your body tells you and take what it’s saying seriously.
Throw in the towel. An extra day off to let your body recover won’t wreck all the work you’ve already done, and it pays to listen up when your body says ‘no’. Bounce around, doing one set of a bunch of different exercises, or choose three of your favorites, do a few sets and call it a day.
Now that you’ve used your bad workout to learn things about the best, and most fun, way for you to workout, get going! Try something new, or take some time to recover. No matter what you choose, stick with a fitness program that works for you.