The Strength To Quit…


 Not  Feelin’ It

I have walked out of the weightroom many times, scarcely after my workout had just begun.  If I’m just not feelin’ it, I would rather not risk injury or waste the time if my instincts tell me that the same workout done 24 hours later would be more fruitful.  I believe this is a good way to be in the gym; that in the economy of fitness, and to get the most from a strength workout, one needs to be well dialed in.  That internal discourse though, has to be honest.  There’s a fine line between not feelin’ it, and just not wanting to do the work on a given day.  I’ve never had any problem identifying that line and I have never used not feelin’ it as a false excuse to avoid the work of the weightroom. 

There are just those occasions when I have done one, maybe two sets of my first chosen movement, and I just know it’s not going to happen on that day.  When this happens I might take a step outside, take a few deep breaths, or maybe even slap myself in the face a couple of times to force a release of adrenalin.  Sometimes this is all I need to ignite the flame.  Most times though, when the exercise is attempted after said break, there is no spark, only an immediate confirmation of not feelin’ it.  Without grumbling, I exit the weightroom and set my sights on tomorrow.  Invariably, the same workout taken on the following day will be more in synch, more productive, and offer me much more of what I seek from my battles with gravity.

When Workouts Go Bad

There are many factors which can limit my ability to dial into a strength workout; poor sleep, poor eating, and stress chief among them.  Usually it’s some combination of these things that conspire to thwart a workout.  When this happened in my youth, I would John Wayne my way through those not feelin’ it days and force a workout.  Of course those workouts were always unproductive and left me feeling worse than when I started for their lack of productivity.  I would leave the gym pissed off, and for the rest of the day I could go from zero to son of a bitch in less than a second.  And like an Altzhiemer’s patient, the next time I wasn’t feelin’ it in the gym, I would John Wayne my way through yet another crappy workout for another crappy result – and so it went for about 20 years.

Growing Up Slowly

Obviously a good workout is better than a bad workout.  It only took me two decades though, to realize that no workout is better than a bad workout. 

I strength train for many reasons: to look good, to be strong, as a stress release, and for the countless health benefits.  Above all else though, I strength train to feel good – walking into the weightroom recreates me on a daily basis.  I always leave the weightroom feeling fresh – feeling much better than I do entering it, except on those days when I’m not feelin’ it.  Experiencing a bad workout will just make a good day bad, and a bad day worse.  Skipping a workout when I’m not feelin’ it has become my only option. 

If you are one who John Waynes it through those not feelin’ it days, I can assure you that your bench press will not suffer, your arms won’t shrink, and you won’t get sucked into a vortex that will strip you of all your gains if you postpone a workout 24 hours, or even 48.  You will actually serve your cause better, and produce better meat.

We create monsters in our heads about missing exercise, men more than women in my experience.  Somehow a missed workout seems like the end of the world – that’s part of the addictive nature of exercise.  Life happens; work, family, and even those not feelin’ it daysThere’s no right or wrong here, this is only my perspective; the philosophy of a man whose workout has been supremely important to him for over 35 years.  I don’t shed a tear about missing a workout these days, especially on my not feelin’ it days.  I simply look for something else to channel my energies into which requires less of me.

A wise person once said to me, regarding the weightroom,

“If your instincts tell you not to do it, don’t do it.  If your instincts tell you that it’s okay, then do it like hell!”

Scott Rupert will probably never read this – I haven’t seen him since I was 16 years old.  But that sentence still resonates all these years later.  Be well.  rc

14 responses

  1. One day this week I had a really crappy morning. I was seriously feeling extra super lazy and unmotivated for no good reason. That’s why I wanted to stop the workout. I’m glad I finished anyway, but this other kind of “not feelin’ it” you speak of creeps up from time to time, too, so I’m taking in your wisdom today.

    • Ya Josie, there’s plenty of days when I would rather be doing something else, but I jump in and within a few minutes I’m so stoked to be working out that I can’t wipe the smile off my face.

      But then there are those days when I think, “shit, something bad could happen here” and I just bail and go watch Pink and The Brain on youtube or something…

  2. A great post Roy! Over the years, I have learned to understand the differences between not wanting to do it vs. I really can do it but my mind is playing games with me & also what you wrote above…. Many people give themselves excuses not to do it vs, really not feeling it. I have very few of those & in fact many times when I give myself the chance, I am always glad I hung in there. Yes, there are those few times ya have to walk away – few & far between for me. 😉

  3. I have learned to love training. On the days when I would rather poke my left eye out with a rusty spoon than train, I stay home. On the days when I feel ‘meh’ about the whole situation, I show up, warm up, and give it a go. If the rusty spoon feeling shows up, I put the iron down, stretch, and enjoy a LONG shower. Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing; this is true in and out of the gym.

  4. It happens to me that at the beginning of a workout I may not “be feeling it”, but more often than I get into the groove once I started going. Sure, there are workouts that suck all the way through, but afterwards I’m almost always happy that I did it instead of quitting.

  5. There have been times when I was feeling bad before workouts and was forced to cancell them. That was not what I was planning to do when I’ve started going to the gym 🙂 My trainer has really helped me by telling a lot about the importance of propoer nutrition and by giving advices on how to improve it. Now I am trying to make my food as rich in nutrients as possible. Still, our everyday life sometimes does not allow receiving all vitamins and minerals from the food we take. So I provide my body with additional support by taking military grade nutritionals – supplements which i consider natural and safe. The improvements have been noticeable already within 1 month. My tone went up, I was sleeping much better and my energy increased considerably. Now I am feeling better and stronger than ever before.

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