Do Bad Workouts Exist?

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I liken this question to pizza.

Is there such a thing as “bad” pizza?

Sure, we’ve all had a sub-par slice of pizza here and there. I mean, pizza made in middle-of-no-where Montana cannot be held in the same regard as one born from a brick oven in Manhattan.

I have zero doubts the former is still good pizza,  but let’s be honest…

…it’ll pale in comparison to the latter.

That said, salt, fat, tomato sauce, and gluten will always be tasty.

Do Bad Workouts Exist?

To quote a good friend of mine, Nia Shanks, who wrote a similar article recently:

There’s no such thing as a “bad” workout.

“Every workout, regardless of performance improvements or decreases, is a productive workout.”

Every time you step foot in the weight room or on the track or beat Jason Bourne in a street fight (that’s a workout, right?), you did it.

You won.

You (likely) did something good and productive for your body that day.

The metric that every workout has to set some sort of personal record or that it wasn’t an effective use of your time unless you’re swimming in a pool of your own sweat or you can’t feel the right side of your face is, well…


The 80% Rule for Workouts

Note: I originally got this “rule” from coach Paul Carter.

The gist is as follows:

  • 10% of your workouts you’ll feel like you can beat The Mountain in an arm-wrestling match.
  • 10% of your workouts you’ll feel like you got run over by a Mack truck.
  • 80% of your workouts you’ll just show up.

Those 80% workouts are where the magic happens and where you’ll actually make progress. There’s no glory, smelling salts, or Instagram highlight videos involved.

You show up, do the work, and leave.

Sometimes this means completing what was planned for the day.

Sometimes this means completing what was planned, albeit with the weights adjusted slightly lower.

That’s okay.

You didn’t besmirch your family name because you didn’t add ten pounds to your bench press this week.

You did work.

That’s the real “win.”

Stop “Should’ing On Yourself”

We’ve programmed ourselves into an endless game of comparison (in no small part to social media). Many of us form these beliefs and inevitably turn them into doctrine:

  • I “should” be working out 5x per week like “so and so.”
  • I “should” be performing “x” exercise.
  • I “should” be lifting “x” amount of weight.
  • I “should” look a certain way.
  • I “should” attack every workout as if I were Leonidas leading the Spartans to battle.


Even if a reliable source makes a professional recommendation about what you “should” be doing – does that mean it’s come down from the mountain?

It’s All Made Up

The thing to point out – especially as it relates to YOUR goals and YOUR happiness – is that there are no rules. Everything – more or less – is someone else’s belief.

Someone else’s opinion.

[Not coincidentally to help sell a book, course, or, I don’t know, Gluten-free, GMO, organic, Acai Pills soaked in Unicorn tears.]

That doesn’t mean it’s right for you.

So, bringing this conversation full-circle.

I don’t believe bad workouts exists.1

“Bad” (lofty, force-fed, unattainable) expectations do.

Did what you just read make your day? Ruin it? Either way, you should share it with your friends and/or comment below.

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

I don’t share email information. Ever. Because I’m not a jerk.
  1. Unless it’s something dumb like kipping pull-ups paired with handstand walking on broken glass for AMAP.

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