One question that we get asked a lot as Fitness Coaches is:
Now that I’ve been doing Group Classes or Semi-Private Training for a while, how do I take it to the next level? Any suggestion?
Which is an important question to ask. After all, one of our Guiding Values is Constant and Never-Ending Improvement. So, if you truly want to thrive, learning the art of busting plateaus is key to optimizing your health and fitness.
However, there comes a point in time when it comes to your health & vitality where you just seem to stop making progress. This can be frustrating and disheartening. You put in tons of hard work and suddenly your body quits adapting and changing.
Luckily there are a few simple answers to this conundrum. But, before we get to that, let’s look a little deeper at what is happening to cause us to plateau in the first place.
Some Basic Thoughts on Science
We all know that feeling of being stuck. One day you’re doing an awesome job of losing weight, and suddenly the scale keeps showing the same number, week after week.
Or, maybe you were making good progress in your deadlifts weights, but now it seems like you couldn’t get stronger if your life depended on it.
I’m here to comfort you and let you know that this is totally normal. Actually, it’s what we call general adaptation syndrome, or GAS (fancy name, right?). General adaptation syndrome simply tells us that your body is going to adapt to whatever stress you’re putting on it, and once your body has adapted to that stressor (be it lifting weights, or calorie intake), it has reached its new point of homeostasis or equilibrium, is you will.
Using The Progress Cycle to Push Past Equilibrium
Although it seems like equilibrium is a good place to be, this is exactly the point at which most people quit. That’s because, since your body has achieved equilibrium with the stressors you’re currently putting on it, you QUIT getting results which leads to demotivation, which leads to inaction, and on and on.
Here is where I’d like to introduce you to the Progress Cycle, which I stole this formula from Ray Dalio (I STRONGLY recommend reading his book, Principles).
First, the formula for progress is pretty simple:
→ Pain + Reflection = Progress
Simple enough, right? Well, the problem is not understanding what it takes to make progress. The problem is the act of actually pushing through to results.
To be able to move forward better, let’s look at the actual Progress Cycle:
- First, we set Audacious Goals
- Next, we encounter issues as we move towards those goals
- After that, we diagnose the problems we’ve encountered
- Then we implement the new resolutions to the problems
- And, finally, we push through to results
Again, this is pretty basic. However, many of us get caught up at step 3. Once we’ve encountered issues, we have a hard time diagnosing the problems (or, more likely, don’t actually take time to do so), and therefore quit making progress all together.
What Does this Have to do With Plateaus?
Hitting a plateau, or achieving equilibrium, in your journey to better fitness is simply like running into problems. Your current level of effort was good enough to get you to THIS POINT. But it’s not going to be good enough to get you to THAT POINT. The next step, then, is diagnosing the problems to come up solutions so you can push through the plateau.
To further help you diagnose your plateau problems, let’s look at 3 things you can do to help push you through to results.
#1) Are you doing the basics?
This seems like a silly question. After all, if you’ve been a member at Thriveology for more than 6 months, it’s likely that you’ve had the basics ingrained in you for a while.
However, maybe you are taking those basics for granted. Or maybe you’re concentrating on ‘more advanced” solutions too quickly. Rechecking the basics will take you a long way to busting through a plateau.
To help, here’s a quick look at 3 basics you need to nail for ultimate health & vitality:
- Sleep – Good sleep hygiene is important. Set a sleep routine, stick to it, and shoot to get 7-9 hours each night.
- Stress – This one is often overlooked. Destressing is imperative for better health and performance. Try meditating every morning when you wake up. Start with just 5 minutes and adjust accordingly.
- Nutrition – DUUUUHH! Are you following the 80/20 rule. Or should you move that to the 90/10 rule for now? This is a bit different than the Pareto Principle. 80/20 for nutrition means eating great 80% of the time and letting yourself indulge 20%.
#2) Increasing Volume or Intensity
In the world of weight training, there are 2 ways to improve your performance: volume and intensity. Volume is pretty simple. You can do more reps of an exercise or do it for more time. Maybe you need to start working out more often.
For intensity, this means lifting more weight or increasing the time under tension. You can increase your time under tension by focusing on the eccentric parts of the movement (slowing the movement down so that it takes longer to perform a rep).
#3) PUSH YOURSELF
This one seems obvious. However, many times we THINK we’re pushing ourselves, when, in reality, we may actually simply be convincing ourselves that we’re doing so.
Are you truly pushing yourself? Do you really know what your body can do? Have you tried a heavier weight in the last couple of weeks? Have you tried doing 2 more reps of the same weight? Can you really say that you’ve pushed yourself to even 80% of your potential?
If you answer “NO” to any of these questions, it’s likely that simply changing your mindset on what’s possible will bust you through you plateau.
Any time you’re having trouble making progress, there is ALWAYS a solution as to why that is. It takes discipline and hard work to find out why. And it’s up to YOU to make sure that happens.