If you鈥檙e trying to stick to a fitness plan, you know the hardest part about working out is actually getting yourself to the gym. When it鈥檚 time to head to your sweat destination of choice, it鈥檚 not uncommon or hard to come up with any number of reasons why you can鈥檛 go. But there are actual legit situations (AKA not when your couch is calling) where skipping a workout can be good for you and even better than pushing through that spin class; after all, the gym will always be there tomorrow. We chatted with Brian Zehetner, Planet Fitness鈥檚 Director of Health & Fitness on when you shouldn鈥檛 feel guilty about missing a sweat sesh.

Serene woman relaxing at home and drinking coffee

1. You鈥檙e feeling under the weather. It鈥檚 really common to wonder if you should go to the gym when you鈥檙e feeling sick, and according to Zehetner, the answer is mostly simple. 鈥淚f you鈥檙e not feeling 100 percent, but your illness is limited to a simple head cold, you鈥檙e probably fine to get in a modest workout. I call this the 鈥榓bove the neck, what the heck鈥 rule. However, if you have a fever, body aches, or stomach issues, you might want to park it on the couch and stay home.鈥 Seems pretty simple to us! 鈥淒espite these general guidelines,鈥 he adds, 鈥淚鈥檒l offer my own two cents: if I鈥檓 healthy and working out, I鈥檇 prefer to do so next to those that aren鈥檛 sneezing and coughing the entire time. Therefore, I would prefer that you stay home!鈥 Fair enough.

2. Something hurts, like a lot. Getting motivated to sweat it out when you鈥檙e sore can be really tough, right? 鈥淚f you鈥檙e experiencing some soreness,鈥 says Zehetner, 鈥測ou can still work out, as long as you鈥檝e given those muscles the appropriate recovery time. However, if the soreness is particularly bothersome and you struggle to move with the same efficiency, then take an extra day or two off. The ability to work out or not is pretty subjective, so go with your gut. And if you experience any sharp, stabbing pains, you should absolutely avoid the gym 鈥 this is much more likely to be an injury versus the typical soreness associated with a hard workout.鈥 Another sign you might be injured? If you have pain on one side and not the other, something might be up that warrants a rest day.

3. You haven鈥檛 taken a break from working out in awhile. If you鈥檝e been hitting the gym five days a week for the past few months, you may want to take some time off. 鈥淚t may be beneficial to take a week or two off if you鈥檙e feeling burned out,鈥 suggests Zehetner. 鈥淭his is particularly true if you鈥檙e a die-hard exerciser. Even the most avid gym-goers need some time away to recuperate and get that fire back!鈥 It makes sense that hitting pause on your workout plans for one to two weeks would leave you feeling ready to get back at it like the badass you are.


4. You just ate a TON or you haven鈥檛 eaten at all yet. You may wonder if it鈥檚 bad to work out on an empty stomach or after a large meal, but Zehetner says neither are total deal breakers, but could have some not-so-nice effects depending on how your body responds. You can certainly work out if you haven鈥檛 eaten beforehand, but depending on how long it鈥檚 been since your last meal or snack, you may find that your energy level, and therefore your intensity level, will suffer as a result. If the opposite is true and you鈥檝e eaten a large meal prior to your workout, you may end up feeling sluggish.鈥 Blerg. 鈥淭he reasoning behind this is pretty simple: When you consume food, a good portion of your blood volume gets shunted to your GI tract to help the digestive process along. If you decide to start exercising right away, that same blood gets shunted back to your extremities to help with muscular contractions and plenty else. This slows the digestive process greatly and leaves you with a bloated feeling at best and potentially some serious stomach upset at worst. In the end, meal timing is critical.鈥 If you鈥檙e not sure what鈥檚 ideal to eat before and after your workout, we鈥檝e got you covered.

5. You haven鈥檛 taken a rest day this week. The number of workouts you should do each week varies widely, and 鈥渋t鈥檚 difficult to pinpoint the maximum number of workouts that an individual should engage in each week,鈥 says Zehetner, adding, 鈥淚 can say confidently that you should take at least one day off. I can also assure you that many people engaged in serious training (for a particular event perhaps) do a few two-a-day workouts during the week. Again, this is very individualized, so talk to a trainer to get a more personalized recommendation.鈥 As always, if you feel like you鈥檙e doing too much, you should definitely take a well-deserved day off.

How do you decide whether or not to skip your workout? Let us know @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)