“This Workout is Too Hard”

These words have been heard a lot lately in our gym. Not in a flippant way, like “Ugh, I can’t do this, it’s too hard” as the person is mid-way through a workout that is kicking their butt. More like “This workout is ridiculous. It’s programmed for people that are younger/better/stronger/fitter than me” and the person is legitimately frustrated with the workout that day.

We have heard of people not coming to the gym on certain days because they don’t think they can do the day’s posted workout. They stay away out of fear of failure or a perceived lack of ability.

Every workout can be modified and there’s no shame in using lighter weights, going slower or being last.

It doesn’t matter what the movements are, or what the prescribed weight is, it can be changed when necessary. Every workout can be modified to fit your needs.

That’s not to say you should change the workout just because you don’t feel like doing the programmed movement that day (we all have those days, but we need to suck it up and get moving). If you are having a tough day or tough week because you are stressed, haven’t slept, are a little under the weather, haven’t eaten properly, or have injuries, every coach can help you modify the workout so it works for you.

Which brings us to the reason for working out… your workout needs to meet your needs and work for you. Although we often don’t know what we need, we can almost always be sure of what we don’t need (if we are being honest with ourselves) and this can help you determine what you DO need. If this is you, talk to a coach.

If you show up to the gym and see the workout is programmed with weights that you just cannot do, feel free to use lighter weights. Good form always comes before added weight. This is something that most everyone does without a second thought and the rest of the workout shouldn’t be any different. It’s all scale-able. We’re not suggesting you change the formatting of the workout, but if the workout is 5 rounds and you think that is not do-able, take another look at the weights you are using or the movements you are doing. Can you change them to make the 5 rounds do-able? Would using a band, modifying the movement or even changing the movement make the workout work for you? How about a workout that is scheduled as one minute on, one minute off for x number of rounds – this kind of workout is made for all kinds of people and all kinds of results!  You can stick to the formatting of the workout, but change up the number of reps you are doing, or change the difficulty of the movement and still maintain the integrity of the programming.


Keep in mind that scaling the movements, weights or reps does not mean scaling the effort. Asking yourself what you want to get out of your workout can help you make the necessary choices for that workout. If you are feeling sore, run down, injured, etc. then perhaps scaling back the intensity or movements is appropriate for that particular day. If you are there to push yourself and work hard, this can still be done even if you scale the workout. The workouts can be as “easy” or as challenging as you choose to make them, and that is why it is important to ask yourself what you want to get out of your workout.


The workouts are meant to challenge and push you because that is where growth happens. Modifying movements, reps or weights should still allow you to push yourself and work hard, regardless of the variation or scaling you may choose.