Dealing With Bad Days Training

Our culture is littered with cliches about how bad days happen. “You win some, you lose some,” or the very similar, “you can’t win them all,” or even, “Some days, you eat the bear. Other days, the bear eats you.”

We all know that bad days happen, and anyone who has spent much time on this planet knows that they can happen in bunches.

Well, I’ve been dealing with that this week and no, I don’t know how to deal with it all that well.

Monday started off with a good training day but since then? Not so much. Now, I get to deal with the overall effect.

You see, Tuesday, my lifts were absolute crap. I mean, weights I was slinging around just a matter of days before were now too damn heavy for me to even get a single rep on. It was disheartening, to say the least.

Afterward, I found myself pondering a few things that are absolutely ridiculous. For example, I was thinking that maybe I should rethink my focus on strength.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I think conditioning is important and I know that mine completely sucks. I need to fix that.

However, I started thinking about things like bodyweight exercises, jumping rope–which I’d already thought of before. It’s why I have a jump rope–anything but actual strength training.

Unfortunately for me, I’ve spent a fair bit of money on equipment for strength training, so let’s just say I’m committed.

It didn’t help that today’s training wasn’t a whole lot better.

The thing is, the places my brain went were stupid. It’s a bad day. I didn’t tear a muscle or break a bone or even drop a barbell on my face. I just didn’t lift as much weight as I probably should have.

Why was I freaking out about this?

Well, because I’ve made pretty good progress through the months and while I’m not particularly strong by my own estimation, I’m still stronger than the average man by a fair margin.

I knew going in that such progress wasn’t going to continue forever. The Novice Effect is limited to, well, novices. (For the record, I prefer Mark Rippetoe’s definition of Novice, Intermediate, and Advanced, which tends to go based on recovery and adaptation instead of just how much you can lift.) I’m not a novice anymore, so of course things wouldn’t keep going.

But I also know I’d have dealt with stagnation better than a step back.

This is despite my own knowledge that it sometimes happens. Some days, you’re just not as strong as you were.

So that leaves the whole “what to do about it” bit.

Frankly, I don’t know.

One thing I do know is that this is the sixth week of this particular program, which I promised to give six weeks. Frankly, it hasn’t worked out like I’d hoped. I’m not really any stronger than I was when I started on two lifts, only slightly stronger on another, while another is doing great.

The one lift that has really improved is the deadlift, which is to be expected. After all, I doubled the volume per week and made sure I had far more practice on the lift itself. Of course it improved.

As for the rest, well…

So, it does seem that regardless of my setback, it’s time to take a step back and try something else.

No, this isn’t because of a bad week. It’s because what I was doing just didn’t seem to be working all that much. Nothing more, nothing less.

And honestly, that’s how you should evaluate programs. A bad week is meaningless if this week’s “bad week” is still significantly better over your “good week” from a few months earlier, right?

So what will I be doing?

I’m not entirely sure. I’m leaning toward a program that incorporates strongman training into your typical training, which I’ve noted before I wanted to do. I think it may be time to add a bit of that.

I also need to increase my conditioning, and the program I’m leaning toward definitely seems to have a focus on conditioning. I also want to continue with my effort to do something every single day.

On that effort, I kind of suck, but I’m getting better about it and will eventually make it a habit.

Anyway, conditioning as part of my program is something important for me going forward. Seriously, I thought about looking at how Crossfit programs things for inspiration, but I don’t think I’m really ready for trying to program stuff for myself just yet.

By this weekend, though, I’ll have my decision made.

Either tomorrow or Saturday, I’ll write a post about what I’m looking at in a program, mostly because this one is ramblings into incoherence.

Short version: I had a bad week. I don’t really know how to deal with them except to understand they won’t all be bad…

…but it does look like I need a change in programming.

Author: Tom

Tom is a husband, father, novelist, opinion writer, and former Navy Corpsman currently living in Georgia. He's also someone who has lost almost 60 pounds in a safe, sustainable way, so he knows what he's talking about.

3 thoughts on “Dealing With Bad Days Training”

  1. I have three more weeks at my current program, and then I’ll be looking for something new; my go-to has been the push-pull split. Monday was deadlift day for me, and I thought I may have torn something just behind my belly button. I was really relieved yesterday when I could do squats without feeling it. At 43, any day that I lift heavier than most of the boys on the high school football team, and don’t tear anything, is a good day.

    1. I’ve done the push/pull split before and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.

      I just get bored too damn easily. That’s something else I need to work on.

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