This a great topic that has come up a few times this past week, and comes up often.  “How do I know what and how much I should do today- especially when I’ve missed the past week of workouts due to work/life/stress?”  
Our first inclination is “I’m behind and need to catch up.  I’ve missed the past week/month/year and need to make it up.”  This typically evolves into some sort of “fitness seizure” that usually leaves us in worse condition than before.  This may or may not work, but it’s usually a guess and hoping we’ve guessed right.
While the mainstream, traditional fitness culture is currently touting the “Go Hard or Go Home” and “No Pain No Gain” approach to fitness, we propose a more intelligent,Evolved, approach that will minimize the guessing and allow for sustainability and long term health.  (You can only beat yourself up so many times before your brain says “enough!” and you quit exercising all together!)
Knowing what we now know about the brain, it’s aversion to stress/threat, and how it improves or inhibits performance accordingly; we can use one simple tool to get a relative idea of how much we should be exercising and how hard we should go that day.  Remember, the key to life-long health and athleticism is to get better each day, not just do some stuff that we’re “supposed to do” and hope it helps.  
A simple tool that anyone can use to gauge how their workout should go is one we use every day in our gym:  A range of motion assessment (toe-touch, rotation, shoulder raise) and/or peripheral vision.  Because our brain is in charge of our performance and, as mentioned above, will improve or inhibit our performance based on the amount ofperceived stress/threat  the body is under- physically, mentally, chemically, etc.  
If your starting range of motion is less than usual, and it takes a longer than usual amount of time in your warm up to get to your normal, your brain’s most likely close to its threshold of stress for today and putting on the brakes.  Mobility and some light activity are most likely what will give you the best result that day.
If you warm up quickly and feel good, go for it!  Continue to re-assess your range of motion after each set.  As long as you continue to improve (not just stay the same!) you can continue your workout for as long as you have time and energy for.  
It’s not a matter of toughness, discipline, or any other catch phrase out there!  You just may need to go hard today because you haven’t for a while.  But, if you don’t assess it first to have a better idea, you may end up over-stressing your body and increase your risk of injury, sickness, excessive fatigue, or even more pain.  
Evolve your thinking and take a more educated and practical approach to your fitness.  Your brain will always adapt to as much stress as it can handle, but not more.  Take this approach with you to each session and watch your results soar!  

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