6 Tips to Smash Through Your Strength Plateaus
First, strength is best described as a skill. To lift more you must get better at producing force.
Second, the lower your skill level, the easier it is to make rapid progress. Think back to when you first started training. You were probably much weaker. You no doubt had less muscle, and a lower quality of muscle. Your nervous system was out of tune. In short, you were operating far below your physical potential. The good news is that skills improve quickly in the beginning. It doesn’t take long to get much stronger, but this is temporary bliss.
The third thing to know about training is that it’s not linear. If it were, there would be a lot more fit and strong people in the world. But in reality training is much trickier than just plugging away and working endlessly.
If you want to know our 6 tips that can put the zest back into your training, read on! As always, if you’re interested in trying CrossFit Epping FREE click HERE to claim your free session!
1. FIRST, GET UNCOMFORTABLE
Don’t allow yourself to grow bored in the gym. Your emotions are tied directly to your efforts, and you cannot expect to put in the necessary work and sacrifice if you’re no longer excited and hungry to train. The boredom starts to set in after you get comfortable with what you’re doing, and where you’re doing it. The answer is to inject some novelty, unpredictability and emotion into your training. This means you have to make yourself uncomfortable again. I’ll give you a quick example.
2. RAISE THE STANDARDS
Have you ever kept an aquarium? If so, you might have noticed that some of your fish don’t just keep growing and growing. Rather, they grow to fit the size of the enclosure.
Your gym is the same kind of thing. Just to be clear, you can have the world’s most advanced programming. You can make all the right moves in terms of nutrition, rest and recovery. That would be great, but it wouldn’t be nearly enough if you trained with a bunch of people who all considered themselves to be strong enough.
Find a gym where the athletes routinely exceed your current goals. Raise your expectations. Find people who warm-up with your work sets, it will make you grow quickly.
3. LEARN YOURSELF
Mobility and body awareness is incredibly important to your body’s performance. When you roll and gnash you loosen the tissues, but you also improve your brain’s “map” of the body. This increases your proprioceptive and interoceptive awareness, allowing you to better sense inappropriate tension. You’ll also have a much better understanding of how training is effecting your body, which should enable you to better regulate your training.
The only thing better than busting a plateau is avoiding it altogether. Increased awareness can help you with that. It will also make it much, much easier to move better with the barbell.
4. DRILL DOWN
You need a big vision packed with big goals, but all of your progress actually comes from the small, daily steps you take. In fact, the biggest threat to your ultimate success is actually a lack of attention and awareness.
If you’ve plateaued, try forgetting about the big, distracting goals for a little while. Instead, set very clear and simple goals for each training session. Focus on quality over outcome (like load lifted).
Take your time. During each component of your training – warm-ups, barbell practice, conditioning and mobility – scale the work down and place emphasis on quality of movement. Lift the barbell with speed and confidence. Don’t allow yourself to move poorly just for the sake of scoring higher on a workout. Don’t compromise technique so that you can lift more today, it’s never worth it.
Produce a higher quality of work for just one month and you will perform better. The big goals will take care of themselves. In fact, before you know it they won’t even seem that big anymore.
5. RIDE YOUR WAVES
Let’s talk surfing. You obviously cannot fall behind the wave, that’s a missed opportunity. And you cannot charge ahead too far all at once. The wave will toss you forward into the reef.
The aim – the goal of your effort – is actually to ride the edge, the lip of that breaking wave. That’s where you find all of the rush and emotion, but it’s also where you will be able to succeed.
Many people fail to make progress in the gym because they train too hard, too often. They pick any old passing wave. They increase their loading way too quickly, and crush themselves with tough high-volume WODs. That’s as good as diving head-first into the reef.
You should push your lifting skills session to session, but pick your waves very carefully. After you’ve drilled down and recovered, try working the load back up slowly just 1-2% weekly. Keep the quality of your work very high. In one years’ time you could easily add 100 pounds to your squat with that kind of approach. It happens all the time.
6. TO PERFORM BETTER, PARTNER UP!
One of the biggest challenges that any athlete has to overcome is comparing themselves to others. On one hand it’s necessary. If we’re going to raise expectations we have to look somewhere. Comparison can drive effort, but as soon as it begins to distract and preoccupy, performance will suffer.
I think the easiest way to get over that mindset is to find a lifting partner. When you’re focused on working with someone else – contributing however you can to their development – it’s pretty hard to be pre-occupied. You’re also able to spend more time observing training with purpose and intent, which is an amazing way to learn and think better in the gym.
Again, that’s a priceless thing.
2017 10 05