A few weeks ago, I shared my journey through a plateau and how, for me, doing too much training, not enough self care and eating a low calorie diet plan created a less than optimal environment for results.
Reversing out of the plateau took a lot of work, and it’s still a work in progress. As a driven person and with a common female trait (in my opinion) of never being satisfied with what we currently feel like or look like, every day I have to remind myself that results are a lot more than just the percentage of body fat.
A huge aspect of change was my shift in training mentality. I have always loved training. For me, it’s an outlet for stress, a form of meditation and really just “my time.”
During my plateau, all of those things became slightly muted, as my sole focus was to “get out” of the current state that I was in. It was no longer enjoyable; instead, it became this thing that I had to do in order to get better results.
Want To Vs. Have To
I knew something had to change, and one day it honestly just clicked for me. I have a small basement gym in my house, and one Saturday I went down there to do a short training session. At that point, I was still fighting some nagging injuries with tendinitis in my elbows and some lower back pain. I decided I would just do what felt right for the day—not worrying too much about the end result.
I worked on some Pistol Squats, Chin-ups and Turkish Get Ups, practiced some gymnastics and holds on the rings and also worked on my Hand Stand Push-up technique. I did 3-4 light sets, just moving my body and playing.
It was the light bulb that I needed. In fact it was a flashing light, billboard and siren all in one.
That day helped me to find my love of training again. From then on, I decided to go into every session and focus on just getting a little bit better than the last week. That didn’t mean going up in weight every single time. Maybe it was getting one more rep on my Chin-ups, getting my hips down on my Deadlift or simply moving without pain?
Overtraining Vs. Under-Recovering
Prior to and during my plateau, I don’t think I was overtraining. However, I was under-recovering. I trained 5 days per week (sometimes 6), but I wasn’t sleeping, eating and de-stressing enough to see results.
My focus was on metabolic circuits, which worked great, but when I wanted to gain some of my long-lost muscle back, I knew I needed to change my focus.
My New Approach To Training
To gain back my muscle and give my body sufficient time to recover, I switched to a 4 day lifting split that broke out like this:
Day 1: One day was focused on heavier lifts for the lower body and then a short metabolic upper body and core circuit.
Day 2: The next day was a heavier upper body focus with a brief lower body metabolic circuit or some sled pushes.
Day 3: The third day was a Deadlift focus (I’m on a quest to hit 300 pounds) and then a full body strongman type circuit with Farmers Carries, Sled Pushes, Chin-ups and some various Sandbag lifts.
Day 4: Then the fourth day is my “play” day where I work on all of the exercises that I listed earlier and other things I want to get better at with regards to gymnastics work and body weight training. I also play in a basketball league on Tuesday nights so that takes care of my conditioning work.
Sometimes Less Is More
My personal message here is that more was not better for me. I had to dial back my real goals and my focus. I wanted to get strong, stay lean and bring back my love for training. I couldn’t do that by beating myself up in the gym every day. Training smarter and eating smarter were the biggest factors for me. Next week, I’ll be back with all the details on how my nutrition changed.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article. Have you had success with breaking through a plateau? Has training less, or differently, helped you in any way? Leave a comment below.