Why that Half-Assed Workout is Doing More Harm than Good


It’s been a long day.  You’re tired.  You’re hungry.  You’ve certainly got better things to do than hit the gym…or at least you convince yourself you do.  But you know what’ll happen if you skip your workout; gym guilt.  That little feeling that makes you feel like a big, wasteful, toad.  A good-for-nothing, lazy slob, who deserves to feel bad every morning they look in the mirror.  Just a huge waste of…. yup – that did it!  Off to the gym!

So here you are, after begrudgingly getting yourself to the gym, you look around, slightly peeved by all the seemingly energetic people bouncing around going about their workouts.  Screw it you think, I’m just going to get this over with.  You go through the steps, knock out all of your planned exercises, watch the clock as you’re pushing through that cardio, then, as soon as your planned workout is complete, and not a minute after, you hop up from whatever machine you’re on, give yourself a huge pat on the back, and let a sense of accomplishment wash of you as strut out of the gym…suddenly looking absolutely amazing in every mirror you pass.

Guess what – you’re delusional.  And that half-assed workout you just ran through?  It actually did more harm than good.  That’s right.  That hour spent running through whatever laundry list of exercises and cardio you had planned is most likely going to make it harder to burn off that spare tire.  Don’t believe me?  Check this out…

Isn’t Something Better than Nothing?

So despite that overwhelming sense of accomplishment you may feel anytime you leave the gym, I’ve got to be honest with you, you haven’t accomplished anything you should be congratulating yourself for.  Sure, you’re going to get some people saying, “well, anything is better than nothing”, but if we really look at what’s going on in side our bodies on a physiological level, you may start thinking otherwise.  Let’s check it out…

The one thing I consistently strive to improve in all of our FitPlan clients is metabolism, through a carefully structured metabolic training system.  Every workout, every step in the process is geared towards improving a person’s metabolism.  This is just my philosophy and the way I’ve learned to train.  It’s also what I think makes my method so successful.  By improving a person’s metabolism you’re literally making each and every workout they complete more effective.  Not only that, you’re making their own internal calorie burning machine more effective.  I truly believe this is the key to helping someone achieve the body of their dreams.

But now you come along, with your half-assed workouts and *gasp!* your steady-state cardio and just screw up all of my hard work!  That’s right…when you slog through your workouts, all you’re doing is killing that metabolism, and Jello-fying your body.  Here’s how it works…

Why that Half-Assed Workout is so Bad for You

Here’s the deal; as I mentioned before, in order to truly change your body, you need to be working to improve your metabolic rate.  When you complete workouts that hurt your metabolic rate, guess what?  You’re actually doing more harm than good.  This is one reason I hate on steady-state cardio so much.

When you’re going through the motions not giving a workout your full intensity, first and foremost, you’re actually going to eat up that hard-earned muscle.  By performing cardio at half-speed for a full-length workout, you’re not really burning many calories to begin with.  On top of that, you’re going to eat away those muscle gains which are directly linked to your metabolic rate.  It’s pretty simple – you lose muscle, your metabolism falls.  It doesn’t take a genius to realize you probably want to retain as much muscle as possible.  Combine this with the fact you’re probably not getting enough protein, and you’re setting yourself up for disaster.  That half-assed workout is just eating up your muscle, leaving the fat in place, and reversing all of the great metabolic work you’ve put in to this point.

Second, and as I’m sure many of you have realized, working out and making progress is as much as a mental game as it is physical.  When you lose motivation, forget it, you’re in trouble.  So when you consistently perform half-assed workouts, over time, you’re going to slowly put that motivation to death. Your metabolism is going to fall, fat is going to become harder to burn, and you’re going to see less results for all of the time and “efforts” you’ve been expending.  This is the classic reason people experience burn out – depreciating returns, i.e. less results, more time spent.

Thirdly, when you get through a half-assed workout, you’ve literally taken the place of what could have been a beneficial workout.  So you knocked out some reps targeting your chest, back, and shoulder muscles.  Great.  Now you’ve got to rest.  Yes, even though the workout kind of sucked, you still can’t hit the same muscle groups back-to-back like that.  So there goes another 3 or so days of not being able to do anything worthwhile to hit those muscles and jack up that metabolism.  Here’s an idea – if you’re going to work your muscles to the point of needing rest, I want you to REALLY work them.  Make them beg for mercy, then reward them with a few days of absolutely nothing as they grow stronger and more defined.

The Alternative to a Half-Assed Workout

If you’ve made it this far, you’re in luck.  I’m going to give you an easy to follow alternative to the half-assed workout.  It’s a simple concept really, but one so many people shy away from; cut your workout time in half.  This is a tough pill for many to swallow.  Psychologically, they think being in the gym for an hour is absolutely going to better than being there for 20-30 minutes.  Get over this.  Performing 20-30 minutes of uptempo, intense work is going to be exponentially better than the nonsense I described above.

So if you’re not feeling the gym, or a particular workout, but still want to avoid that gym guilt, do yourself a favor and just cut things short.  Amend your workout, take things out, but DON’T, for the love of God, go through the motions and do things at half speed.

If you’re looking for some quick one-offs on those days that you really don’t want to be at the gym, but still want to feel like you’ve done something worthwhile, check out a little something I like to call finisher workouts.  These routines are each 10 minutes or less and are typically designed to be performed at the end of your regularly scheduled workout routine.  Nonetheless, you could totally make an entire workout out of just finisher workouts one days you just want to get in and out, and be done with the gym.

These finisher workouts are designed to spike metabolism, help you build lean muscle, and improve that endurance through HIIT drills.  Basically, all things you should be striving to hit if you’re trying to burn through that body fat and build a lean, athletic body.

So the next time you think you’re doing something positive by running through that workout routine at half-speed, I want you to think back to this article.  Realize that hour is largely going to be wasted and is only serving as another obstacle in your road to success.  Find something short and sweet, hit it with all you’ve got, then come back the next day feeling refreshed, inspired, and motivated to keep pushing the ball forward each and every day.


6 thoughts on “Why that Half-Assed Workout is Doing More Harm than Good”

  1. I’m so glad I found this blog. I’ve been looking for some new routines to up my motivation. I do have a question from one of your archived blogs: The Total Body Superset Complex Workout Plan. How could I lengthen each mini-complex? For example, mini-complex #1 is only three exercises, which would put me in and out of the gym in probably less than 30 minutes. would you combine two upper body complexes or combine one upper body with one lower body?

    1. Good question – while each complex is only three exercises, it should be repeated up to 4x total. You’ve also got 4 mini-complexes per workout. With rest breaks factored in, that should take you about 40-50 minutes depending on how fast you get through each set. I’ve always been a fan of going hard for a shorter period than extending a workout past 1 hr but letting intensity suffer.

      Any other questions though, please ask!


  2. Great Article Matt, Most people windge over not getting the results they want from their workouts and you said it all int his post. I think a lot of people just like to get to the gym, as it makes them feel better about themselves than if they didn’t exercise.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s