we all have encountered those days when we aren't zoned in at the gym, but what do you find to be the "best"(if there is truly a best way) to handle your volume and intensity on those days?

I am fully aware most evidence on the subject will be anecdotal(all I have found up to date has been, not saying there is anything wrong with that), but if anybody knows of any scientific studies that would be great.

Typically, when I encounter days when I am mentally out of it, I just get my big movement of the day done(Squats on ME lower body, for example) and then cut out the accessory work and call it a day(or stick around if that movement jolted my brain awake).

  • Are you only considering answers that just cave in to your non-zoned-in-ness? Or are you also looking for ways to get your mind back in the game so you can do what you had planned to do?
    – user4644
    Feb 24 '13 at 18:11
  • I'm sorry, Kate, but I don't think I see how your 2 questions differ. Feb 24 '13 at 18:17
  • 1
    Similar question may help. Feb 24 '13 at 19:07
  • What I mean is, you have two options: 1) accept that you're not zoned in and adjust your workout, or 2) get zoned in. I'm just confirming that your question is focused only on the first case.
    – user4644
    Feb 24 '13 at 21:45
  • @Kate, yeah I would love responses to either, I guess I have always just thought of it as something that was out of my control. Feb 24 '13 at 23:05

I'm assuming because you're talking about not being zoned-in, this question isn't about you not being physically able to do the work (due to inadequate recovery, for example), but just that you don't feel like it. There are two answers.


If you decide to accept that you're not zoned-in, just take it light that day. Do your warm-up sets and just do as much of your workout as you feel like doing.

Depending on how your program is set up, this may mean you've ruined your chances for progression this week (if you're on something complicated like Texas Method), or it may simply mean you need to redo this workout the next time you're in the gym (if you're on a simple A/B split). It might not be a big deal.


Get back in the zone. Here are some things to help you do that. (Each of these topics would warrant a full question/answer on its own, so I'll just give brief pointers.)

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