Is there such a thing as a ‘bad workout’?. Hutton Health

Is there such a thing as a ‘bad workout’?

14th March 2021

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Most of us have exceptionally high standards for ourselves. We perpetually hold ourselves to a list of ‘shoulds’ that would exhaust the average person –

I should eat healthy, homecooked meals every night.

I should workout until I am pouring in sweat.

I should run faster or further.

I should continuously lose weight.

I should look a certain way.

I should lift a certain weight or complete a specified number of reps.


We end up putting immense pressure on ourselves by continually striving for these high standards. When we hold ourselves to these standards, we will inevitably feel like we have ‘bad workouts’ as the energy and determination required to continually push our limits is not feasible for us to always have.


Tips to avoid feeling like you have 'failed' or had a 'bad workout':


Celebate the wins, no matter how small!

Every time you lace up your trainers and head out the door, every time you invest a few minutes in stretching or yoga, every time you purposefully move your body, you did it! You showed up for yourself and did something productive for your body.

The notion that every workout ought to set some sort of personal record, or that it was not worthwhile unless you are drowning in your own sweat or you have no feeling in your right arm is unrealistic. Holding yourself to this standard is a recipe for failure and disappointment which will give you reason to give up on your journey to health and fitness.


Focus on progress, not perfection

Each time you show up for yourself, and put in the work, progress is made. Occasionally this means fulfilling the day's workout plans. This sometimes involves accomplishing what was originally intended, albeit with weights reduced slightly, distance shorter or the speed slower.


Focus on small actions

Unfortunately, our bodies are not bottomless tanks of motivation and energy.

On the days that you lack the inspiration and enthusiasm to push your limits or stick to your programmed workout, committing to purposeful movement for even 15 minutes is a success.

Often when you start a workout, whether it be a bike ride, a walk, a run, lifting weights or any other movement, getting started is the most difficult part. Shortly after starting, the cobwebs clear, the muscles warm up and you start to gain the momentum required to continue (and potentially even enjoy it)!


I have never regretted a workout or intentional movement.


There is no perfect straight path to success, but there are peaks and valleys along the way. If you feel like you have had a ‘bad workout’, it is important to recognize why your workout wasn't as successful as you'd hoped, and then maintain consistency and momentum moving forward. Adjust your workout plan whenever necessary, and celebrate when your next workout isn't just good, but great.


Potential Reasons for feeling like you have had a ‘Bad Workout’:


Lack of Sleep 

Not getting enough sleep has implications for your workouts. A lack of sleep can lead to lower energy levels as well as reaching exhaustion sooner.


Lack of fuel 

Your body requires fuel stores to provide the energy required during training as well as to effectively recover post workout. If you are exercising without a decent fuel source, your workouts will be lacking in intensity, and low blood sugar levels will leave you feeling sluggish.


Lack of direction 

Following a plan in line with your health and fitness goals ensures that you are clear on the intensity and direction for your workouts. If your workouts aren’t challenging you, your fitness levels are likely to stagnate. However, if you workout too hard too often, your body may not be able to recover and build as it should, which can cause injury and have long term detrimental effects.

Download Hutton Health’s free GOAL SETTING WORKBOOK to help set SMART goals that can help your achieve health and fitness success.

Consider working with a personal trainer or coach who can help tailor a plan based on your goals.


There is no such thing as a ‘bad workout’. The only bad workout is the one you didn’t do!