I’ve had quite a few people say in passing “Man, I feel like crap…” Some have had a rough couple of weeks of sickness, pressure headaches from the weather systems, or just general fatigue. If there is one sure place where you’ll notice these things, it’s in the gym. Our bodies need to be rested, hydrated, and fed in order to perform. Optimum performance comes from hitting these three needs with the right quality and quantity.
We all love our gym time, but sometimes it tries to tell us things we don’t want to hear. If you feel stuck in a rut, or have been before, odds are it isn’t a result of what’s happening in the gym. It’s what you do those other 23 hours that can affect energy, performance, and ultimately your results in the gym.
Whatever our goals may be (long term, short term, fat-loss, higher energy, muscle gain, performance), we crave to feel a steady progression. Without progression, it can seem like our efforts are wasted. We may even start considering crash remedies that aren’t sustainable in the long term. Let’s not do that; instead, let’s accept that the plateau is part of the process, and it’s a very valuable indicator.
Is it really a Plateau?
A plateau can happen in any area of life – our jobs, our nutrition, our fitness…the key is knowing how to determine if you really are stuck, or is it just a bad month resulting from specific events or triggers? Everything from sleep, nutrition, health, mood, hormones, travel, and major life events can contribute to feeling like we’re stuck in a rut. In those circumstances, I’d want to know how long your normal routine has been interrupted. Perhaps you are just out of balance and need to adjust the routine to get back on your progression path.
If your routine hasn’t changed and yet you feel you aren’t progressing, perhaps it’s time to make a significant change. That change could be something as simple as taking a week off and re-evaluating a few goals. If you are constantly sore and feel like you aren’t recovering between workouts, look at why that might be. Are you eating enough to support recovery? Are you eating enough of the right things (protein, carbs, and healthy fats)? Perhaps booking a meeting to take a look at general nutrition habits is all it takes to make a few small changes and power back up!
For someone who has achieved their goal to improve fitness. For example, you’ve lost fat and changed your body composition into a new range – it’s a good time to re-evaluate and set some new goals because the ‘fat-loss’plan can be very different from the ‘maintenance’or ‘lean muscle gain’plan. Why haven’t you PR’d your lift in a while? It could be a number of things, but first I’d explore nutrition, water intake, and sleep. Are there other life events that have created stress in your life or that have impacted your routine? Maybe coming to the gym 5 days a week just isn’t sustainable anymore, and that’s OKAY! You may get better results coming 3-4 days a week, killing it, and using that extra time to self-care.
If it isn’t Broken…
We’ve all heard it – if something isn’t broken, don’t fix it. I’m a firm believer that you don’t need drastic changes if you are making progress. If what you are doing is giving you results along a steady progression path and you feel you have momentum most of the time with very few set-backs, keep on going. Any changes should be minimal tweaks to an already successful plan. For example, don’t let yourself get sick of the same food every day. We are creatures of habit, but there are 1000’s of ways to dress protein, veggies, and rice (or whatever your menu options are) to make it different and exciting!
Fun Ideas to Get Back on Track:
- H2O!– Challenge yourself to increase your daily water intake by 1L for a month and track how you feel inside and out
- Use the Kids! – Have you ever done some squats or lunges with a child giggling on your back? Super fun and a workout too!
- Break the Routine!– Come to a different class time and mix things up
- Book a Personal Training Session – It might be just what you need to refocus, work on some technique, and simply check-in
- Book a Goal Review Session – didn’t know we do that? We sure do. Take 15 minutes to sit down with a coach and we’ll help you.
- Squat Challenge!– Do 100 air squats a day for 30 days (be sure to take booty before/after shots!)
- Musical WODs– Do some song drills and pick some movements to work on (“Bring Sally Up” – squats/push ups, “Roxanne” – Burpees/Planks), there really are no limits here…
- Nutrition Focus Area– For one month, focus on a different aspect each week, similar to our group nutrition challenges.
- Recipes!– Look for healthy recipes and try a new one each week for a month
Talk to us!
If you’re feeling blah!, odds are, you aren’t the only one. It may be helpful to hear what others do when they feel the same way. You might even get a partner to try a month challenge with. The important take-a-way is to realize, inevitably, that there will be times like these at some point. It’s normal, it’s life, and there are so many ways to make things better!