If you train for something long enough, it’s going to happen. The proverbial wall will be hit and all those gains in fitness, strength, size, etc that were free flowing seem to dry up and no matter how consistent you stay, the results just stop.
This is known as the plateau. And it can be soul destroying if you don’t recognise it early.
What causes a training plateau?
Plateaus are usually the result of one or more of the following:
Your body has adapted
The human body is incredibly adaptive, not only that but it also likes to live in a constant state where it is comfortable, so it aims to reach this ‘comfortable point’ as quickly as possible. Your current gym routine, team training or early morning run / bike ride won’t challenge you forever and it’s the bodies clever way of staying comfortable. What this means is that you will need to make the stimulus harder or cleverly alter it to prevent this process from occurring.
Your routine is not causing enough stress
Similarly to the previous point, you need to be under some level of physical stress to be able to change the body. It’s important that your program is tailored to your needs as what is too hard for one person may be way too easy for the another, both scenarios will cause issues.
Your routine has too much variation
Not providing enough stimulus through a particular group of muscles or movement patterns won’t allow for enough growth. Think of it like you are spreading the butter over too much bread or diversifying your investments too much, compromising any actual gain that you might get.
You’re overtraining (or under recovering)
Too much training won’t give the body the time it needs to rebuild from the damage that exercise induces. This damage is a good thing but it requires some downtime to help the body repair. Similarly, too much training will cause your energy to be depleted and your sessions won’t be done with enough quality to get good training gains.
NEXT ARTICLE: How to bust through a training plateau
Trav is a Physiotherapist with an Exercise Science background who specialises in shoulder injuries and gym-based rehab. He believes that injury rehab is an opportunity to work on performance and to emerge better than before you were injured.