“If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.” ― Bruce Lee
A plateau can be frustrating, especially when it comes to our health and fitness goals. Whether it pertains to strength gains, weight loss or developing a new skill, it’s a hindrance that we frown upon. We’ve all dealt with them at some point in our lives. Rather than identifying a plateau as a negative experience , we should take it as a lesson in helping us figure out how we can break out of it and therefore overcome it.
Plateaus occur when there’s a stall on progress. Why does this happen? Could you be overtraining or undertraining? Are you getting enough sleep? Are you eating too much or not eating enough? Are you giving your body adequate time to recover? Are you adjusting your program accordingly? There can be a number of reasons why you are no longer moving forward. Don’t beat yourself up! Here are some suggestions on how you can get over this hump.
1. ANTICIPATE THE DIP
No one starts out with the perfect training program. It’s a lifelong journey where you will learn through trials and tribulations what works and what doesn’t in terms of your health and fitness gains. You will hit a plateau at some point and there will be setbacks and obstacles along the way. Allow room for error and learn from your mistakes. Be flexible with your methods and turn your weaknesses into strengths. In my previous blog on “How to have the mindset of an Olympic athlete,” I talk about how these elite athletes need to prepare almost fours years ahead of time. During this time period, they need to anticipate risks of injuries which can often be debilitating and throw their training completely off track. They have to adapt accordingly so they can still stay in the game on their road to success. We can adopt a similar mindset and tailor it according to our needs.
2. KEEP A JOURNAL
Logging your progress is one of the most helpful things you can do to get out of your plateau. Record every rep, weight lifted and when you started so you can compare results later. Indicate how you felt during your workout. Did you lack energy because you didn’t eat or sleep enough? Were you going through a stressful time period and lacked motivation? Did your metabolism slow down because you ate too little? By writing everything down, both positive and negative, can help you identify factors which may be affecting you both physically and mentally. If you’re learning a new skill, use videos to help you figure out what you may be doing wrong. All serious athletes use this method to help them grow and improve their performance.
3. TAKE A BREAK
Seriously, your mind and your body will thank you for it. When you’ve been grinding away day in and day out, this can become both physically and mentally exhausting. Your body is not a machine nor meant to operate at full capacity 365 days a year. There are peaks and lows when it comes to fitness gains. If you don’t give your body the love and recuperation it needs, it will backfire on you. Also, stepping away for a moment will give you a fresh perspective especially when you aren’t going anywhere. After 2 years of pole dancing, I became extremely frustrated at one point because I coudnt execute nor put certain movements together. Only when I decided to take a break for a month, did things start to click.
I hope this has given you some insight on how you can break out of your plateau. If you are open to change and are flexible with your mindset, everything will eventually fall into place. Don’t strive for perfection but rather improvement. Don’t be so hard on yourself and allow room for mistakes so you can grow. Find what works best for you. Remember this is a journey. You have everything it takes to get there.
NASM – CPT
Holistic Health Coach