Can I Workout Today?
I love Tuesdays. For me Tuesday is like everyone else’s Sunday because, as un-conventional as it is, it’s a regularly scheduled “day off” for me. I know, that was all sorts of confusing, so let me try to clarify.
I don’t have a standard weekend like most people. I work on Saturday (and sometimes even on Sunday depending on the time of year), and my “weekend’ is generally shortened to a 36 hour span from Saturday afternoon through Sunday that generally consists of what I like to call catching up on life.
Translation: a crap ton of laundry (which, for those curious, is a shade more than a shit ton), and other errands like grocery shopping, food prep, and being dragged , usually kicking and screaming, to Target.
Don’t get me wrong, my girlfriend and I do fun stuff, too. For instance, we have our “date night” on Saturdays where we pick a restaurant, get all jazzed up (her looking as bootylicious as always, and me trying to remember not to wear brown shoes with a black belt), and head out on the town.
We like to consider ourselves “foodies” and have a fun hobby where we collect cards from all the different places we eat in or around Boston and pin them up on, what else, our “Date Night” Board.
But in the grand scheme of things, my “weekend” is a blur, as it is for most people. Which is way I savor my Tuesdays.
Tuesday is effectively Tony Time, where I’m able to catch up on emails, writing, programming, various projects in the mix, and episodes of Deadliest Warrior.
In addition, Tuesday happens to be the day where I make the short walk over to Boston University to train with my friend, Dave Rak, at BU Strength and Conditioning which is essentially a candy store for meatheads.
We typically meet up around one in the afternoon, and I spend the majority of my morning salivating at the mouth because both Dave and I have dedicated that day to deadlifting our faces off (and doing our part in the fight against terrorism).
So, as is the case with every Tuesday, I was excited to train. That is until I actually showed up and realized I felt like I got run over by a mack truck.
Mentally I was just drained, and to top matters off, my back was a bit cranky from what I guess was sleeping on it wrong the night prior. In a nutshell, I was a walking bag of fail.
My plan was to head in and do some heavy mid-shin rack pull singles, but I scratched that idea once I started warming up and realized my back wasn’t feeling spectacular. I knew I could probably push through it, but I decided not to be an idiot and opted instead to switch things up.
Rather than pull heavy, I performed some light(er) back squats for sets of three, and then, still wanting to get some deadlifting in, set the bar up for some speed pulls.
315 felt like I was pulling the weight out of a tar pit. It felt sluggish, and by the third of fourth set I was starting to get an exertion headache, where I felt light-headed and a little nauseous.
Again, I cut everything short, and then moved on to my accessory work (barbell glute bridges with some one-arm DB rows).
In hindsight, I probably would have been better off NOT training in the first place.
In my defense, I wanted to move around a little a bit, and I was still able to get some semblance of a training effect in – so there’s something to be said for that.
But really, if I’m going to be honest with myself, it was a craptastic session and I really didn’t make myself any better.
Ironically enough, Dave Dellanave, one of the head trainers at Movement Minneapolis, posted this graphic on their fan page yesterday:
While I can pat myself on the back that I still “trained” yesterday, looking at this simple yet effective chart, I most likely would have been better off doing some foam rolling, dynamic mobility drills, maybe some light pull-throughs and sled work, and calling it a day.
Of course there are going to be the internet warriors and people who talk a big game who will say that this approach is for the weak minded or “gay” (someone actually said this on the Minneapolis Movement Facebook page).
I’d like to take the route that it’s smart, instinctive, self auto-regulating training.
As I’ve grown as a coach, and as someone who’s job it is to make people better, I’ve come to understand that trying to pound square pegs into round holes – while admirable t0 an extent (you can’t fault people for loving to train) and will undoubtedly win you some internet cred – is a poor choice to go about things 90% of the time.
It dumbfounds me that some people (some of whom are coaches) will take such a close-minded, and if I may be frank, pigheaded “all or nothing” view on training.
It’s unfortunate really. Go HERE to read the thread.
Reverting back to a phrase that both Eric Cressey and myself use regularly:
Fatigue will always mask your true fitness level.
While it would be wrong of me to state that one should never train while feeling fatigued or tired (that’s a little overboard, and not the lesson being conveyed anyways), I do feel there’s a valuable message being “sold” by the Movement Minneapolis camp.
Which is: it’s okay to take a day off, or to back off a little bit.
The world won’t come to end, and no one will think any less of you.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tweaked my programming, or that of my clients, if they’re not feeling up to snuff on certain days. While it’s rare that I’ll shut someone down completely, there is some credence behind knowing when to back off when the time is right. (<—-You should Tweet that).
What are you thoughts on the matter? I’d love to hear what others have to say on this topic. For me, there’s little (if any) advantage in plowing through a training session when it’s just not there.
More specifically, what does it say of me as a coach to take an athlete – or a general population client – and beat them to a pulp when they only had three hours of sleep the night prior; or just broke up with their significant other; or worse case scenario, has a raging case of explosive diarrhea?
Probably not going to do them any favors
That said, do me a favor and sound off. Seriously, I want to know your thoughts.