What do you do when you’re all set to workout but you’re feeling weak or experiencing low energy? What happens when your training schedule says it’s a big workout today, but you’re just not feeling it? What should you do?


They say if you want life to laugh at you, then show it your plans. Having a training plan can often feel the same way. In this article I’m going to show you five things you can do when your plans and your body are in disagreement.



Power Through It

Breaking Muscle Shop

Sometimes you need to just do it. Often once you get started, you’ll get into it and then you can have a great workout.


Depending on your personality, it’s possible you’re just looking for excuses (okay, maybe not you, but other people you know). If you’re past the lazy stage that stops most people from exercising, (and let’s face it, we’re all visit there sometimes), then you can probably tell the difference between when you’re being lazy and when your body is not primed for physical activity.


Sometimes just getting moving can be all you need to do, but generally it may not be the best answer.

Take Rest When Necessary

Sometimes you’re feeling weak and low energy because you are. And what you need to is rest, not more activity. The important thing is being able to discern when this is truly the case.


I remember when I was putting on my first big weekend workshop. I was working my butt off to get everything set up and ready. I drove to my gym to get in my workout. But when I got there, nothing felt good. I ended up taking a nap on my gym floor, then getting on with my day.


I was under such a big load of stress that I didn’t need the additional physical stress of working out. I needed more recovery. So I made the right choice and slept instead of training.

Manage Your State

Often when you’re not feeling like working out, it’s not so much a physical thing, but a mental or emotional one. As they are all intimately tied together, one thing can easily affect the other.


The state you are in when training is important. If you’re in a bad state, then you’ll likely have a bad workout. This is, of course, unless the workout takes you out of the bad state, as it can sometimes. But if you stay in that bad place, it won’t be a great training session.


There are many things you can do to manage your state. Getting moving is one thing, as changes in your physiology help to change your feelings. Various meditation or breathing exercises can also be used.


What works best for me is a form of energy psychology like EFT. This is a big topic and if people are interested I can cover it in a future series of articles. If you want to hear more about EFT, please post to the comments below.


Scale Back

If you have a written training plan you’re holding yourself to, sometimes just looking at that can make you not want to workout. If you have to put forth your full effort and you’re not feeling it, it can be disheartening to face that gap.


If that is the case, then you can cut your workout in half or otherwise reduce it. This can be in volume or intensity. Many times this can work better than just skipping the day to rest. A toned-down workout can get you moving, which can support recovery, and also act as a bit of a consolidation for your gains.


Many trainers recommend a deload week once every four to six weeks. If you can listen to your body well, then you may be able to know when a deload is best for you, rather than just sticking to an arbitrary schedule.

Novel Movements

Similar to the last scenario, what is making you not into your workout right now could simply be a bit of boredom. It might not be you consciously, but your nervous system is tired of the same movements over and over again.


By doing something completely different, you can often have a lot of fun and a great workout. While consistency of training is necessary for steady gains, every once in a while you do need some changes. Novel movements can stimulate recovery and get you excited about training again.


At one point, I had been practicing a lot of bodyweight movements. As I did some hand balancing at the park, I just wasn’t feeling it. I decided I needed a change. So, I went and lifted some heavy weights, doing partials and other exercises. It was about an hour and a half later that I finished my workout - because I was having so much fun.


Combine These Approaches for Your Best Results

Here’s the great news. You can combine many of these ideas together. If you’re not feeling like working out, change your state first, then begin an easier workout with new movements. By implementing these tips, you can get a much better workout than if you did nothing at all. (Unless, of course, doing nothing is the right thing to do.)


Photos courtesy of Jorge Huerta Photography.