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The Importance of Breaking Training Plateaus

Progress should always be at the forefront of your thoughts and the centre of your attention. Building upon what you have previously accomplished helps in keeping you motivated and training for the long term. What you do end up achieving will come by way of time, consistency, total effort and adherence to a plan that has been strategically and meticulously cultivated by you or your coach or both. Having said plan in place will allow you to set parameters and measurable goals that are quantifiable and reasonably attainable no matter how lofty they may be. As you progress through your program, taking note of all the work that has been done, eventually what you will find is that your training followed a linear trajectory in which you saw your lifts and gains go up quite substantially from week to week. Then, that trajectory line begins to flatten out and you find yourself at a crossroads of a training plateau. What you do next is incredibly important as your first priority at this junction is to break through that training plateau so as to move onto greater gains. The last thing you want to do at this point is to give up and here’s why.

The Mental Boost

As defeated as you may be for the immediate time and as frustrating as it is when things are moving along very well only to be brought to an abrupt halt, there’s an incredibly good reason to fight back and forge on past this barrier. The positive mental boost you will give yourself once you have successfully figured out a way around this first of many training plateaus will give you the confidence you’ll need further down the line when it occurs again to just keep fighting back until you smoke that plateau right out of the water. It’s very easy to get discouraged in these situations and more than one person has simply given up and walked away never to return to their glory. This can’t be you and shouldn’t be you. Whether you have to change something with your nutrition, with your approach to training, with your recovery protocol or with any of the other bodybuilding resources you have at your disposal, simply keep working on the current problem until you make it go away and it will go away. Once it does, you will feel a sense of victory and a heightened sense of achievement because it was you who conquered the plateau.

Setting the Physical Tone

Perhaps the biggest benefit to facing a training plateau and then subsequently defeating it is the type of training you will have now become accustomed to while you were struggling. Prior to reaching your training plateau, whether you knew it or not, you had adapted to a certain level of intensity and effort within your training sessions. That was good and kept you going right up until the point where that trajectory of gains flattened out. Then to surpass it, you found a new level of training and began working hard at that to see your numbers increase again. The benefit of that is you have now found yourself training on a whole new level, unaccustomed to what you’re used to and by virtue of this, new gains will follow. So in essence, what you did for yourself in just trying to break through that training barrier was set the physical tone for yourself with a new norm for your training approach. You might be more aggressive, use more intensity boosting techniques, use more or less rest times between sets, show less fear in attempting big lifts or all of the above. Regardless of what it is, it’s now there and is catapulting you on to that next level.

Establishes Success Criteria

Finally and maybe even most importantly, is once you have left that training plateau in the dust far behind you, what you have done in preparation for the next time you encounter this frustrating event in your lifting career is that you’ve given yourself some success criteria to follow. What I mean by this is that hopefully as you worked your way through challenging training times and eventually got your numbers going up again was that you recorded everything you did to be successful. In doing so, you have given yourself something to look back on to see what you did then that could potentially help once again. If it was all just guesswork and you were able to move forward by chance, then consider yourself lucky. Most of us have to be very detail-oriented so that we can study and analyze what it was we did to achieve new momentum in our training endeavours. Having that record of training and bank of notes and strategies that you can reflect back upon and hopefully use again should curtail the necessity to waste time in trying to reinvent the wheel for yourself when all you’re looking to do is keep the positive training momentum moving forward.

Look, the fact of the matter is that training isn’t rocket science but it isn’t just doodling on paper either. It does take a concerted effort to figure things out every once in a while and there will be times when your plan fails to work or fails at working for considerable amounts of time. When this does occur, and it will multiple times if you’re at this long enough, your best recourse is to attack it from an intelligent and discerning stance and simply apply what you have learned about how your body responds to the training stimulus and all that comes with it. Bodybuilding and lifting weights are something you should want to do for as long as you can possibly do so. It’s not about doing it for a little while here and there only to walk away from it when it’s not fun anymore and the progress slows down or comes to a halt. It’s about learning your body, learning about nutrition, learning about biomechanics and finding ways to see continuous progress no matter how long you decide to engage in it. That’s the best part about living this lifestyle and the challenges that are ahead of us should only serve as a symbol of the accomplishments we have already achieved.

Author: Dana Bushell

Gym Star Team Member