I’ve hit a training plateau and I’m no longer making as much progress I was making. What should I do to blast through it?

June 15th, 2011
By Skip La Cour
Filed Under: Questions & Answers

Hitting a plateau, or in other words, having your training progress come to a screeching halt, is probably one of the most feared and frustrating things an athlete can experience. There isn’t anyone on this planet who wants to work extremely hard at something—and not show signs of improvement. This is especially true when it comes when adhering to a demanding bodybuilding lifestyle.

Becoming stagnant with your training progress will surely lead to frustration—a feeling that undercuts the level of fulfillment you hope to enjoy from your efforts. The mounting frustration, if not quickly alleviated, will eventually overwhelm you. Becoming overwhelmed is the primary reason many people stop training altogether.

Unfortunately, too many people quit due to the frustration caused by a merely perceived lack of progress. With this disempowering perception, they can only muster a halfhearted effort—at best—as a way of protecting themselves from experiencing the pain. This situation occurs whether or not the person realizes what is happening.

Stop and think about your situation for a moment. Can your progress ever really stop if you are consistently putting forth your best effort? If you are training with any type of regularity and intensity, and supporting that training with sound nutritional practices, you can rest assured you are not really stagnant—regardless of what you may think. Oftentimes, you will be improving even when you don’t necessarily feel you are.

One of my favorite illustrations of what I am explaining comes from motivational speaker Zig Ziglar. In his story “Primin’ the Pump,” Ziglar talks about a man who goes to an old-fashioned well to pump some drinking water. The man pushes the pump’s lever over and over again, and is seemingly making no progress whatsoever.

The man is indeed making progress, however; it just isn’t visible to him at the time. Deep in the underground pipes, suction is being created and is slowly siphoning the water to the surface. If he gets discouraged and stops pumping, the water will fall again—and he’ll have to start all over.

If he is persistent, the man will eventually see results from his efforts and enjoy a surging flow. At this point, he’ll no longer need to pump as hard because now only a little force produces enough water to equal ten times the effort he gave at the beginning.

Sometimes it feels as though you are putting ten times the effort into your training than you seem to be getting in improvements. But, if you are persistent, you will enjoy the benefits of living the bodybuilding lifestyle that could be ten times greater than the effort you invest—just like the man who was primin’ the pump. You just never know for sure—so be persistent.

Appreciate what you’ve already accomplished. Look back for a moment. Haven’t you really accomplished a lot more than you may have thought? Aren’t you a lot farther along than you were a year ago today? Wouldn’t it be great to look back in another year and see the continual progress you have made?

What if you wasted an entire year simply because you lost your motivation and strayed away from your plan? Wouldn’t that wasted time feel much worse than if you simply remained committed and worked through the times when your motivation is a bit lower than you would like?

The chances are pretty good that you’ve worked through times like these before. There probably aren’t any good reasons why you won’t successfully pull through these downtimes again.

A real tragedy is when a person who is “winning” at their bodybuilding and training efforts mistakenly believes they are losing. A way to prevent this from happening to you is by finding effective ways to track and monitor your efforts. Taking the time to assess your training and eating habits on a weekly basis can help you maintain the right perspective. More often than not, you’ll realize that you are doing much better than you thought you were before reflecting back on your efforts.

A sure-fire way to prevent training plateaus is to follow closely the Max-OT training principles. Max-OT is designed to keep you progressing. It provides maximum muscle growth stimulation every workout while providing maximum recovery between workouts.

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