Why You Need to be Flexible with Your Workout Program

Posted On Jan 31, 2014 By Tim Arndt, Resistance Training Specialist

Why you should be flexible with your workout program

I had to regress a client's workout intensity the other day. It wasn't planned, it just had to happen.

She was feeling stressed out from work, hadn't slept well and was feeling the pressure of trying to follow a strict workout plan. On top of all that, she was starting to feel sick.

The workout I had planned for her was going to be a very intense lower body circuit. Her previous workouts were similar, and she had been progressing steadily. Her tolerance for the workout and ability to recover from it had been built up over several months of consistent training. She was well-prepared for a tough workout, except for this day.

She didn't mention any of the issues she had been having before we started. When I asked how she was feeling (something I do with every client before each session), she said she was feeling fine. It became apparent very quickly that she was not. Weights that were barely above her warm-up level were a challenge.

When I noticed this, I stopped the workout and asked how she was really feeling. That's when she told me about being stressed, not sleeping well and starting to feel sick. As a result, instead of continuing with a very intense circuit, we slowed things down and kept the resistance loads much lower than what she was normally capable of.

Some folks would consider that workout worthless. They would say that she should've pushed herself no matter what the adversity. To conquer her workout even when her body was telling her no and follow the plan no matter what. Stay the course!

I strongly disagree! My client needed a break. In fact, I even told her to not work out the next day …and the day after that. Instead of considering it a lost or failed workout, I consider it part of her training and exactly what she needed at that particular time.

Workout programs are created as a general guide to help streamline the process of getting you from point A to point B. However, no plan can ever predict all the obstacles that pop up seemingly out of nowhere. When these happen, you have to strategically change things. In the case of my client, we had to adapt on-the-fly and regress her workout intensity.

A few days off weren't going to completely stop the progress my client was having. In fact, a few days off wouldn't even slow her down. It actually allowed her to continue progressing. Rest is when our body adapts from the stimulus of exercise, and in this case, she needed extra rest. After taking some needed time off, she came back just as strong as she was before. Not only that, she felt refreshed mentally and was ready to kick up the intensity again.

It's good to have a plan. Just know that your plan isn't aware of the roadblocks that may come your way, and you need to be flexible with it. It's OK to take a step back or take a day off if your body needs it.

Your body is what will determine if the plan is right for you and each and every workout. So listen to it and plan accordingly.