Last Monday I finished up my lift and was planning on getting 5 sprints in to finish off. My Baseball season starts next week and I want to sprint three days per week to get ready. Anyway, after this lift I realized I just wasn’t feeling right. So I had to make a decision. I could either grind it out and get the sprints in or wait till tomorrow. I chose the later. I had no regrets about doing so. I knew I still had five training days left in the week. I knew I only needed three days of sprints for that week. Here’s the thing, on Tuesday those sprints felt amazing. They felt completely effortless. During the first rep I realized how great and efficient I felt and looked up at my speed and noticed I was virtually at my top speed. But I also knew I was only running at about 75% speed

Hey nifty story, but what’s my point?

There is absolutely a time and place for going balls to the wall with your training in order to really challenge yourself physically and mentally.

But that’s not very often. Most of the time you want to focus on quality and simply get better. The most important thing is to follow your instincts. Our bodies are really good at telling us exactly what to do everyday. We just have to get better at listening to our bodies and recognizing what those signals mean.

Now, this doesn’t mean you should slack off every time you don’t feel quite right. You still need to get the work in. But you don’t need to kill yourself every training session. On a day that you feel like you could run through a wall, go for it, try to run through a wall. On the days where you don’t quite feel right, that’s okay. Get to the gym anyway and focus on technique. Get your reps in. These are the workouts where your real long-term improvements are made.

Beyond that, there are two primary strategies to use in order to make sure you get quality work in and still challenge yourself:

  1. Plan challenge workouts every 6 – 8 weeks. These workouts should challenge you physically and mentally. They shouldn’t be done very often because you will need some serious time to recover. If you can do this a few times per week you are not working as hard as you think. The rest of the time you are focusing on getting good, quality work in, making steady improvements.
  2. Take 6 – 10 minutes out of each workout to challenge yourself. This is my preference for my clients. You can call this your fun finisher, a gasser, or any other name you like. This is your opportunity to go nutso and challenge yourself.