BREAKING THROUGH A TRAINING PLATEAU

Have you been a member at CrossFit 416 or been focused on training for a couple years or more?  Do you feel like your gains have slowed down or stopped even though you still consistently attend class 3-4 times per week and give it your all??  Well fear not, this is normal.  But there are reasons why the “gain train” slows down as you progress in your fitness journey.

When you’re new to CrossFit or even when you just change your workout routine, you will undoubtedly experience rapid progress because your body is experiencing new stimulus every single day.  The adaptation to this new stimulus is “where the gains happen”.  Over time, the stimulus is no longer new and the adaptation is complete, so the gains stop.

But don’t worry, it is not all lost we’ve got some important steps to follow to keep you moving forward and find some new gains.

1)The Basics –  Be honest with yourself here.  Without even looking at training itself how do you rank yourself in the following:

Nutrition – Are you eating high quality, nutrient dense foods, in the proper amounts and ratios based on your energy needs?  Are you drinking 3-4 L of water every day?

Sleep – Are you getting enough sleep? I’m talking 7-8 hours per night.  Do you have a routine, shutting off electronics 1 hour before to help your brain wind down?  Do you have a sleep schedule (eg. Bed at 10pm, rise at 6am).

Stress – Are you managing your stress levels?  How do you approach different stressors that effect your daily life?  Your body can only handle so much stress, emotional and physical.  If you are feeling emotionally stressed on a daily basis, it can significantly impact your workout (since your workout is a physical stressor).

 

2)The fight against homeostasis

 Your body and brain love the status quo.  Biologically your brain and body’s main priorities are survival, and procreation.  After years of training your body has created this new, and awesome state of homeostasis.  What this means is that the stressors your body was challenged with early on is your training career, no longer challenge you.  You’ve adapted, and now you need to find new stressors that challenge homeostasis in an intelligent way.

Finding new stressors doesn’t mean ditching classes for another form of training, in actual fact the programming and classes we provide are designed to be constantly varied and always challenge homeostasis.  So to ensure you’re challenging your body with new stressors focus on these 3 things in class:

Intensity – Focus on how you push yourself.  The majority of CrossFit workouts are designed to be completed with maximum intensity, however a lot of the time we prioritize strategy for intensity and thus lose a training effect.  Sometimes in order to stress your body you need to push to exhaustion.

Slowdown – Our body loves habits, and one habit we get from CrossFit is to move fast.  By slowing movement down however, we elicit a very challenging stimulus (think about tempo work).  Employing this strategy in WOD’s, will challenge homeostasis and improve movement mechanics.

Workout Frequency –   If you’ve hit a plateau, you are probably in a great workout groove.  You attend class 4-5 times per week.  Sometimes, your body just needs more rest, and reducing your workout frequency will improve recovery and allow you to challenge the body more on days you do workout.  This doesn’t mean you need to lay in bed and do nothing instead of going to the gym.  Instead, work on your mobility, go to yoga or pilates, go swimming, biking or paddle boarding.

Workout Time – Changing the time you go to the gym.  If you usually train in the morning, try training at night – taking your body off it’s normal schedule will mess with homeostasis, and can be a new and simple way to stress the body.

 

3)Individualized Approach

Identifying or working on your weaknesses and imbalances is never fun.  We love doing what we’re good at and hiding from what we’re not good at.  But, imbalances, movement deficiencies, or technique errors, may be what you need to fix to help move past your training plateau.  There is no better way to identify these inefficiencies than working with a coach in an individualized setting.  Simple assessments in movement or technique will provide a coach valuable information to then create a plan just for you.

 

What got you to where you are now, may not get you to where you want to be.  If you feel like you’re stuck in a rut, first asses the basics – nutrition, sleep, and stress.  Next make a deliberate effort to challenge the status quo – change intensity, speed, frequency, and timing.  Finally, hire a coach – have a professional assessment on your movement and technique, and work off an individualized plan.

If you’re having trouble smashing through a training plateau, let’s chat.  Set up a strategy session with us today!

-Dan