How often does this happen to you?
You’re ready to head to the gym, or you’re already on your way, and suddenly something comes up.
Maybe you get held up at work, maybe the subway gets delayed, or maybe something comes up with your spouse or one of your children.
Whatever the issue, once it has been resolved you look up to see that you’ve now lost a sizable chunk of your allotted workout time and you start thinking to yourself, “is this workout even going to be worth it now?”
Here at Zach Moore Training this happens all the time to our clients, so we are guessing it happens all the time to you to.
So what should you do when these unavoidable obligations arise and how should you approach a workout once you’ve lost a considerable amount of the time you planned to dedicate to it?
Your Three Choices
When these inevitable irritating obstacles arise there are three paths you can take.
- Choose not to workout at all and simply pick up again at your next scheduled workout.
- Choose to not workout, with the intention of working out the next day.
- Modify your workout to fit your new time structure.
Which Option Should You Choose?
When it comes to building a lean, strong, healthy body and achieving your health and fitness goals consistency is key.There is no such thing as perfect and there never will be.
The sooner you realize that and accept it as Gospel, the sooner you’ll be able to adjust your approach and start maximizing your consistency in the gym.
So with that in mind forget option one.
Skipping workouts undermines the principle of optimal exercise frequency and breeds a mentality that accepts inconsistency. (Once you skip a workout it dramatically increases the likelihood you will skip your next workout.)
If you know, as in know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you will be able to get to the gym the next day without anything coming up, without deciding you’re too tired, without a can’t miss social obligation coming up, without anyunforeseen issues, then technically yes, pushing your workout to the next day is the right option to choose.But saying you should push your workout to the next day is a classic “on paper” answer because there is no way you can guarantee nothing is going to come up.
It is completely and utterly impossible. That is why the word unforeseen exists in the dictionary.
And this is why we are just not fans of option 2.
As a hard working busy adult the likelihood of you being able to carve out gym time the day after you already put time aside for a workout is simply too small.
Which brings us to option 3: modify your workout and get in what you can.As we said, there is no such thing as perfect and a 50% workout is exponentially better (literally) than no workout at all.
And given the likelihood you getting back to the gym the next day is honestly not great, the best choice here is to modify your workout and do what you can.
How To Modify Your Workout
In our experience the best way to modify a workout if you are short on time is to follow the three following steps.
- Lower the weights you were going to use. This will enable you to reduce your rest periods and kill extra dead time in between sets.
- Use circuits of at least three exercises that work different muscle groups.This will enable you to rest each muscle (almost) fully while you perform the exercises that work the other two muscle groups and help you further reduce the amount of time you have to wait in between sets.
- Reduce the total number of sets you do for each muscle group. This is the most straightforward way of reducing the total amount of work you need to do in the gym.
Benefits of a Modified Workout
Benefit #1 You actually get a workout in.
You may be thinking to yourself, “I hear you that I should lighten, shorten, and modify my workout, but won’t that undermine the effectiveness of my workout?Again, technically yes. But as we said before, the much more likely outcome between choosing a modified, shortened, and lightened workout and trying to push a workout to the next day when it can be completed in its entirety is the former.
So what you are really choosing between is doing a less than optimal workout and no workout at all. And again, as we said, a less than ideal workout is exponentially better than no workout at all.
Benefit #2 You Keep The Habit of Exercise Alive
So much of what determines our actions are our habits and our habits need to be maintained.Skip one workout and in the grand scheme of things, it’s not that bad.
But as we said, once you skip a workout you are far more likely to skip your next workout. Then you’re even more likely to skip your next, and then your next, and so on and so forth.
Then before you know it you haven’t been to the gym in a few weeks and you’re completely off track.
Sound a bit dramatic?
Maybe, but sadly it accurately reflects what happens far more often than we like to admit.
We know this may sound intense, but it’s not a bad idea to fear the consequences of missing a workout.
Benefit #3 You’ll feel much better completing a modified workout than skipping it.
One of the best benefits of exercise is how it makes you feel mentally and emotionally.First off, exercise releases endorphins that literally act like a happy drug elevating your mood and cognitive function.
Second, completing a workout brings with it an immense sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.
If you skip your workout, or try to push it to the next day you won’t get either the endorphin release or the sense of accomplishment.
And in addition to the absence of these positives, there is the added negative of guilt.
If you’ve ever skipped a workout because you were too tired, or just not in the mood you know what we are talking about. That nagging feeling of “Dag, I really should have just gotten that workout in…”
Even if you have to modify and scale down your workout, you’ll still get an endorphin release, you’ll still feel a great sense of satisfaction, and you won’t have to deal with the nagging feeling of guilt the rest of the day.
Don’t Skip Short Workouts: Modify Them Instead
Listen, you’re human and you’ve got a lot on your plate. Between work, family, and social engagements no doubt you are one busy person!This means things are going to come up. They just are. It is inevitable. And from time to time (maybe unfortunately often) these things are going to disrupt your workouts leaving you with less time than you had planned for.
When this occurs don’t skip your workout, even if you think you can get it in tomorrow. Life is too busy.
Modify your workout and get in what you can.
Lower the weights you were going to use, use circuits and work multiple muscle groups back to back, and knock a few sets off of each exercise.
By doing so you will help follow the principle of optimal workout frequency, you will help maintain the vital habit of physically going to the gym, and you will get your endorphin release, feel a great sense of accomplishment upon completing your workout, and you won’t have to walk around the rest of the day feeling guilty.
Sounds like a good deal to us.
Your exercise and dietary coaching team.
Zach Moore Training.
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One of the best things you can do for those you care about is helping them to build a healthy and great looking body. A body that is strong, capable and moves without pain and a body in which they feel confident and happy.