Some days it seems that gravity is stronger than others. You know, the weights feel heavier, you feel sluggish, and it's an effort to get yourself through your warm-up.
Or maybe you're in the middle of the season and you have a rigorous game schedule; being tired and worn-out is not an option nor is being sore. You still want to train but what can you do in the gym that's NOT going to set you back?
Dan John calls them "punch the clock" workouts. Get in, hit 1-2 main movements, maybe an accessory exercise or two and get out.
Deadlift 2x4 or 3x3
Step Back Lunge 2x8/side
Bench Press 2x5
Chin Ups 2x5
Step Ups 2x8/side
It doesn't seem like much, but it's enough to hit the major muscle groups, train the nervous system without frying it (which is a crucial point and a future blog post), and maintain strength levels. Many people, my past self included, think that if there's not an increase in weight or you're not limping out of the gym, it wasn't a successful work out. Totally not true.
If you're feeling not-so-hot, performing a tough workout is really only going to hurt you more than help. If you're in-season, your main job with training is to maintain strength and stay injury-free. Thus, the punch-the-clock workouts fit the bill!
It's the best of both worlds: you can workout AND you're not thrashed. Humans, unfortunately or not, have a finite amount of energy. If the bulk of that capacity is spent recovering from a grueling workout, there's not much left for anything else (such as performing in practice/games or bringing in all your groceries in one go).
Walking out of the gym feeling better than when you walked in will provide your body the time and the energy to recover.
Give it a try the next time you're feeling run-down or you have a big game coming up. Your body will thank you.