5 Reasons why you are hitting a plateau…and how to break through it.

By on February 17, 2015

We’ve all been there. You start a new workout program and things are going great with each week seeming to bring along PR after PR.

Life is good.

Then all of a sudden without warning those gains start to decline until you reach a point where you aren’t seeing the jumps that you had become accustomed to and finally end up coming to a deed stop.

That sucks right?

As the owner of a CrossFit box for over three years and a total of eight years in the industry, I’ve seen this nasty scenario play out many times. It’s something that happens to many of us and unless you have the proper coaching or support system…it can be devastating for you morale, your confidence and you ability to bounce back.

However from my experience I have learned that these plateaus don’t just suddenly happen out of thin air. No, these plateaus are often brought on by several little mistakes that the athlete does (or doesn’t) do and these can lead to those dreaded plateaus. Although there are many, I’ve widdled it down to 5 common reasons why people see a plateau in their training.

Reason #1: You do not keep track of your workouts

This goes for almost any plateau you see in your life, not just in the gym. If you don’t keep track of what you have done…how do you know where you are going? The only way a GPS works is if it has a beginning point and a end point/destination. If one of the two things is not present then the GPS is useless.

Same goes with your workouts. Write down and keep track of your numbers. This includes your strength number, your metcon numbers and even your benchmarks that you set for yourself (1 mile run, 2k row, etc.) By having all of this data recorded, you can now use this information to tweak your workouts when necessary and make adjustments so that you can avoid a plateau very easily.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had clients who stopped seeing results, then started to log their workouts and now their results are back on the fast track.

Write. It. Down.

Reason #2: You do not rest enough

Wait a second…the reason why I’m not getting better is because I’m not taking enough time away from the gym and my workouts? Yes.

The body is an amazing machine. It can handle almost anything you can throw at it. You can workout to the point of exhaustion and it will hold up pretty well. However, if you are working out to the point of overtraining and feeling fatigued all the time then you are heading in the wrong direction.

As the saying goes “the time you spend out of the gym is as important if not more important than the time you spend in the gym.”

When we workout we are breaking down our muscle fibers, creating new connections in our nervous system and many other behind the scene things. When we rest, this allows our body to repair the muscle fibers, strengthen those nervous system connections so that when we do get back into the gym…we are stronger.

In CrossFit they recommend a 3/1 work and rest ratio. I say listen to your body. If you feel sluggish then rest. If you feel good and can go 4 days in a row, go for it. Just don’t get to the point of overtraining.

Reason #3: You have a bad attitude

Our attitude when it comes to working out and seeing results is just as important as the working out itself. If you come into a workout and aren’t feeling confident or excited…chances are you won’t do well.

Maybe you are looking to PR on the back squat but in your mind you are thinking “there is no way I can do that.” Well I’m not a betting man…but if I was I’d bet you’d miss that lift.

The word can’t should be erased from your vocabulary. Be positive and stop thinking. Surround yourself with people who are positive. It’ll make you positive.

Remember, if you think you can then you are right. If you think you can’t then you are also right. It’s up to you!

Reason #4: You are not comfortable with being uncomfortable

I’ve seen lots of athletes and clients who will continue to do the same amount of weight for months on end. They are perfectly happy with staying where they are…except when their results stop.

In order to get to a place you’ve never been, you have to do things you have never done. If you want to get to that 400lb back squat club, you need to train in a way that is going to get you there. And of course it is going to take hard work. It’s not comfortable adding more weight to the bar than you are accustomed to (just try walking up the stairs the next day). When we want to improve and succeed, there is going to be resistance and at times it will get uncomfortable. Embrace it and feed off of it. This uncomfortableness is what is going to get you to where you want to be.

Learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Reason #5: You don’t have a support group

It’s hard going at it alone. Why do you think most people have trouble with sticking to a workout plan? Most of the time it’s because they don’t have a support group that keeps them motivated and holds their feet to the fire.

Don’t let this be you. If you are a CrossFitter, join a box where you have the built in support system of coaches who will push you past your comfort zone. Find someone in the class who is better than you and workout next to them. Pick their brain. Mimic their success. If you are a power lifter or even a athlete on a team, train next to the best lifter or athlete and learn from them.

You are who you associate with. If you want to break through the plateaus, then you need to associate with people who don’t even know what the word plateau means. It’s amazing to see what a difference this alone makes in people’s results.

Plateaus can do nasty things to a person’s confidence. However, when you know the signs and make the right adjustments you can expect to see those plateaus become a thing of the past.

Robby Blanchard

About Robby Blanchard

Robby is the Owner of CrossFit Reach and Reach Athletics LLC. He has over 8 year of experience in the fitness industry as a Coach, Trainer, Competitor and Gym Owner. Robby holds a Bachelor's in Exercise Science from Fitchburg State University along with a Masters in Business Administration. He is a L1 CrossFit trainer and hold a CrossFit Strongman and Olympic Lifting Certifications. Robby is a USAW-Level 1 coach and run's Reach Barbell Club, one of only a few sanctioned USAW gyms in Massachusetts.

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