Sunday, February 2, 2014


We all have bad days in training.  Sometimes, it is for reasons would could see coming, to include a lack of sleep, poor nutrition, nagging injuries, break ups, hang nails, leap years, confusing your antipsychotics with your antidepressants, etc.

"No, I haven't seen your LSD, have you seen the dragon in the kitchen?!"

Sometimes, the bad day has no explainable reason.  You walk into the gym, and it’s like someone turned up the gravity.  You were having a great day, yet, as soon as the bar gets in your hands, nothing goes right.  What was once your easy warm-up is soon turning into a grinder, and the prospect of hitting your desired reps and weight that day goes out the window.

Regardless of how you ended up in this position, it happens.  The question is, what do you do now?  Many are tempted to hang up the workout when they feel the warm-ups falling apart, feeling it’s better to just come back another day when they feel stronger.  Though a viable option, what if you decide to push through?  What do you get from this?

I mean, aside from this

You are developing “bad day strength”.  We know that it is true that we cannot always be at our peak strength, but what is also true is that we can bridge the gap between our good days and our bad days by training ourselves to be stronger when we are weaker.

What we’re arriving at here is the notion that a “PR” is not a universality, but instead contingent upon the conditions of which it occurs.  Your all time PR is a PR set in ideal conditions, with adequate rest, nutrition, warm-up, rest, timing, and preparedness.  However, you can just as easily have a bad day PR, which is to say, the heaviest weight you can lift when you are poorly rested, underfed, and overstressed.  Knowing this information about yourself becomes valuable, for as bad days occur, you have an ability to measure how much you have progressed by comparing previous bad day PRs with current ones.  You may have only hit 6 reps with a weight that you should hit 10 of on a good day, but perhaps that is a 4 rep PR on a bad day.

By improving your ability to be strong under less than ideal conditions, you are making yourself a stronger person in general.  Your strength is not dependent upon your ability to peak, but instead always available, even under the worst of conditions, and you in turn gain an understanding of just how much you are capable of even when things are at their worst.  For a powerlifter, this knowledge is incredibly valuable in determining your opening attempts.  For a strongman, this is helpful in terms of knowing what you can expect out of yourself later in the competition, when you have to hit deadlift for max reps after a heavy loading event or medley.  For anyone, this is vital toward understanding that many of your limitations are self-imposed, and within in you dwells the potential for great strength under any circumstances.

He didn't have time to do his mobility drills before this, but somehow he managed

Not every bad day in the gym is a day wasted.  Sometimes, bad days are the perfect opportunity to develop some bad day strength.

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