Lifting weights might be a chore for some, or an enjoyment for others. That being said, how ever motivated you may be, there are going to be days where you simply do not feel like heading to the gym. A long day’s worth of work, creeping life pressures, or even just a change in the weather could throw you off your tracks.
In that case, put your earphones on, blast your most motivating music, read up, and hopefully, by the time you’re done, you’ll at least be able to turn a soon-to-be rotting workout into a somewhat decent one.
Set the mind.
1. Empty your stack
I like to equate the mind to be somewhat like a stack. In the case for all non-programmers out there, a stack is a type of data structure, which is just a fancy word for a way of storing data in an organized way. However, also unlike a stack, the mind is built for evaluating, evolving, and connecting information, NOT storing it. Over the course of a working day, information (either useful or not) is bound to pile up in your near overflowing stack – and it’s eating up your attention and willpower.
Sit down, grab a piece of pencil and paper (or any other organizing tool you use), and start listing down or drawing out the mind map of the most recent things that’s bothering you, and the consecutive steps that you need to take after you gym session to solve them. Give yourself a solid 30 minutes to do this, as it acts both as a time to get yourself organized, but also a time to allow you to turn your mess of thoughts into a to-do list.
Be careful though. Always keep your perspective, and not actually go too deep into the weeds of your list (unless it’s a pretty tiny errand that you have to run). Do this just enough till you’ve managed to convince yourself that you’ve got your shyt together.
2. Snack on some motivational gummy bears
Hardcore training videos of your favourite athlete. Heavy metal music that talks about stuff that even the devil wouldn’t have conveyed himself. Training articles from Bodybuilding.com. Training vlogs of your favourite YouTube personality.
I’d have to admit, these do help in getting me pumped up for my workout. Somehow, it makes my nerves tingle whenever I watch someone doing something I should be doing. But just like anything else in this universe that gets you pumped and excited, it’s easy to be hooked on it, especially when it’s so easily accessible nowadays. Just be careful to not take this “treat” as an excuse to procrastinate the actual workout till you “feel” like you’re ready.
Just be careful to not take this “treat” as an excuse to procrastinate the actual workout till you “feel” like you’re ready.
Well, if you’ve done all you can to get your head in the game, it’s only appropriate to follow it up with your body.
Pump the body
1. Warm up your back
Why the back in particularly? Because the back is heavily utilized throughout all movements, directly or indirectly, either as the main mover, or more of as a stabilizer. Based on my experience, things just don’t click as well if my back ain’t pumped with blood – may it be when I’m snuggling myself under the bar during a squat, squeezing my lats at the bottom position of a bench, or erecting my body during a sumo deadlift. It just ain’t the same. If you’re gonna feel crappy before a workout, might as well not let your lifts feel just as crappy.
When I say warm up, I don’t mean just doing 10 reps of lat pulldowns on the machine and that’s it. I mean deliberately, and thoroughly warm up your entire back real good, to the point where you actually take one or two sets pass your pre-sdefined RPE on how a typical warmup set should feel. I usually grab a barbell (if it’s available and convenient) and just do like 2 sets of 20 on the barbell rows, and couple it with a set or two of lat pulldowns with a good amount of weights on it. In fact, I actually treat the second set as an actual working set and take it pass the default comfortable threshold. Feel free to replace pulldowns with pullups if you’re strong enough to do a set or two without wearing yourself out too much.
Yes, you gotta warm up the other muscle groups as well (chest, triceps, biceps, and even some legs), but I would say give a little more love to your back.
2. Open up the hips
Once I feel like my back is fully loose and pumped, the second joint I always move on to is my hips – because just like the back, I believe it’s heavily utilized too across all lifts.
This is especially true on the bench, where I would usually feel a stretch in my groin area when I bench cold, which limits the full, rigid, satisfying arch that I could’ve gotten, if it wasn’t for the restraints I had due to tight hips. Usually, I would warm them up and stretch them as thoroughly as if I was going to go for a sumo deadlift.
A couple sets of bodyweight lunges on both legs, coupled with a static stretch with me holding myself down at the bottom position of a sumo deadlift (which I like to call the balls dipping position) with a bar in my hands to hold me down really gets those hips opened up.
3. Energy drinks
Let’s be honest. Everyone loves the kick caffeinated substances give you. Either you’re a coffee fan, a RedBull affectionate, or a pre-workout abuser – every time the substance hits you, it just feels like you’re invincible. As long as you’re properly cycling your energy boosters, I don’t see what’s wrong with taking them, especially on tougher days like one you’re experiencing today, where a dose might just be enough to get you from shyt to okay.
Personally, the only substance I could get my hands on easily is coffee. However, careful with that because sometimes I do experience a tendency to want to poop after sipping on some, and the last thing everybody wants during a workout is a visit to the toilet because that shyt (both literally and metaphorically) really throws you off. Hence, I’ll usually take it about 30minutes before the actual workout as to allow more time for the caffeine to surge through the system, but also to allow all side effects to take place first.
What? Still don’t quite feel it yet?? Really rough day huh? Well, if all else fails,
Tap into the placebo
The placebo effect is a seemingly positive effect your body experiences when it consumes/does something, even when there is no proven correlation between both of them. Basically, it’s all in your head. Still, during the bad days, everything’s worth a try.
1. Align the stars
Everyone has their favourite lifting shoes, shirt, pants, bar, singlet, routine etc. Get all of them on – wear your lucky deadlift shirt, put on your favourite pants, coupled with your favourite bar in the gym, and if that’s not enough, switch today’s workout for one that you’ll enjoy more (maybe a bench session for the scheduled squat session. Remember, it’s already going bad. Might as well not make it worse).
Let this be your guide to supplying yourself the mental boost you need to get through the next hour or so, and resuscitate a soon-to-be-dying workout. Bad times come and go but just remember – anyone could steer a ship when the sea is calm. It is bad times like these and your ability to grind through them that truly defines you.
BONUS: Accepting your fate
Like it or not, life is more than just about lifting weights (even to those whose very job is doing so). As life goes on, sooner or later, prioritization do take place and sometimes, lifting just didn’t cut the list. If you’ve been doing this long enough, you SHOULD be able to weigh things out, and are aware of the weightage that lifting takes up. If that’s the case, then I believe the power to either grind on, or taking a day off and live to fight another day, lies in you.
As life goes on, sooner or later, prioritization do take place and sometimes, lifting just didn’t cut the list.
Always keep the bigger picture in mind, and understand that this workout wouldn’t take the soul out of you, for it is merely another step in a long-ass marathon you’re in. Take each seriously, but know that this isn’t the end-all-be-all. It ain’t the end of the book, for it is merely another line in the paragraph.
– Just another dude