Every now and then I get blog topic requests from y’all that I think are particularly interesting. Last week I got a request to write a blog on how I mentally and physically handle bad training days.
I love this topic because it is rarely talked about inside of the fitness community and it is even more rare that coaches provide a solution for the inevitable bad training day. As I mentioned in my post last week, one of the best remedies for bad training days is surrounding yourself with motivated athletes inside your training environment. Having these athletes around you likely will allow for their energy and probable good training day to rub off on your mentality. This often can lead to a better training day than you would have otherwise experienced.
However, for the sake of this blog post, lets say that you are not in the ideal training environment and you are experiencing a bad training day. How do you handle this mentally and what do you do physically when your body is not able to reach the intensity level that it is normally capable of?
Mentally these types of days can be the most frustrating and demoralizing parts of your training if you allow them to be. Ironically though the solution can be experiencing these days more often. I have been training the Olympic lifts for 14 years, so the number of bad training days likely ranks in the hundreds. That much experience with these types of days makes these types of days less and less demoralizing. When I feel like one of those days might be happening, or mid training session I can tell that my lifting is not going according to plan, that past experience and past struggle helps me to not get down. Furthermore, I just have to remember that circumstances and other pieces of my life play a part in my training. This is inevitable. Therefore bad training days are inevitable. Even the best in the world have bad training days. Remembering this fact allows me to complete the training day to the best of my ability trusting that the next training session will be a different scenario.
Mentally, the solution is slightly depending on the personality of the athlete. However, physically, the solution to a bad training day is quite simple. Do what you can. What’s more than that, do what you can do with precision. The worst thing you can do on a bad training day is continue to beat your head against the metaphorical wall and expect that after you fail enough that eventually you’ll just magically get it together. Some called this mentality; persistence. I call it stupidity. If your training plan calls for you to hit certain weights and you are not able to get anywhere close the last thing you need to do is put that weight on the bar. My mentality when approaching bad training days as far as the lifting goes is that I will decrease the percentage and load to a manageable training set and will be solely guided by what I can do with precision. I will not allow myself to press the gas pedal on a day when my body is telling me to ease up. Bad habits are formed on days when you try to do more than your body is allowing you to complete. Back down the percentage 5% or 10% depending on how your body is feeling and complete the movements and sets and reps with perfection rather than trying to complete the work out as written and only creating bad habits.
There is no elite or nominal athlete in the world who trains on a regular basis and avoids bad training days. This is just impossible. The best athletes in the world know how to manage bad training days such that they gain something positive from them. My suggestion to you when you encounter a bad training day is to not let it defeat you mentally, and do work in such a way that it pays dividends technically rather than hurting you in the long run.