Written by Sajan Patel
Change is a slow and sometimes difficult process. Changing body composition, habits, mindset, and psychology can be slow and agonizing at times. Many of my clients have experienced plateaus and long periods of little to no change. There is nothing worse in training than not making progress. Regardless of your opinion on the gym, most people that enter the gym are there to get better than last time. Progress is what drives people forward and lures them to keep going. Take that away…and you have discouraged clients that think they can’t change no matter how hard they try, and something MUST be wrong with them.
When in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Having gone through many plateaus myself, I have learned how to break them and how to keep making progress even when it gets tough. However breaking through them aren’t easy. More often than not, something fundamentally is wrong with your process. That is to say, you are messing up in the basics. An expert is someone who has mastered the basics and continues to maintain proficiency over them.
There are times when small details are the reason you’re not pushing through plateaus, but the truth is they are few and far between.
1. Make sure you have the fundamentals down
Nutrition, sleep, water intake, protein consumption, and stress levels are all fundamental and 90% of people that are not making progress are messing up somewhere in the fundamentals. Take this to heart, you are not special. You need proper sleep, high protein, and hydration if you even want to think about losing fat or building muscle. Both of those things are luxuries to the body. Proper organ function, blood flow, and more is the primary function of the body. To keep you alive, not to help you thrive.
Look at your nutrition, training, sleep, water intake and stress levels. Is there area you know you are messing up in, but clearly don’t want to admit it? Radical change requires radical honesty, look into the fundamentals and see what is going wrong.
2. Your training isn’t hard enough
To get the proper adaptations you want from your body you have to tell your body to make them. Strength training helps provide that stimulus and tell the body to keep muscle and/or burn fat. But if your training is too easy, your body simply won’t grow past a certain point. This is known as the concept of progressive overload. As you adapt to your training, your training gets progressively harder. Is your training hard enough, or are you walking out of the gym completely fine? You shouldn’t feel totally beat up after training, but you
should feel like you worked out and your muscles worked. If that is not the case, it is time to start looking at your training.
3. Your training is too hard
Conversely, while some training may be too easy, some training may be way too hard and pushing your body way too far. There is such a thing as overtraining while many people will not reach this point, this is something to consider in your workouts. How are you feeling after the workouts? How are you feeling after weeks of working out? If the answer to both of those questions is tired, lethargic or sleep, it may be time to dial your training back. We don’t want to overload the body to a point where it breaks down, so take a step back and recover if you need it.
4. You are making progress, it just isn’t as fast as you think it should be
My last point is maybe the most important one. If you have the fundamentals down and are training hard, more likely than not, you are making progress, you just can’t see it yet. Adaptations take time and are not built overnight. People that have decent muscle mass or lean physiques take years of hard work and discipline. The truth is that for me and many of my clients, our progress while not as fast as we would like it to be, is still quite fast relatively. Look at your training log and where you were 3 months ago, 6 months ago, and a year ago. Have you made any change in that time? Are you visually improved or has your strength gone up? If the answer is yes, then you are making progress, you just need to be patient. Slow and steady wins the race.