After seeing some frustration at the gym from new members, I decided to write a letter.
Congratulations on making a change! You decided you wanted a change in your life and you took the first steps.
Now is when things get really interesting. Chances are, if you started around the first of the year, you will be hitting your first plateau anytime now. Welcome to your first real test. Yes, I can hear your thoughts… You thought you were over the big hurdle already. The fact is, you’re now standing in front of a cross roads. Busting through your first plateau is a right of passage and transforms you from being a “Resolutioner” into a gym member.
If you are staring your first plateau in the face, it means you are doing something right. The easy “just show up and put in your time” part is over. Now you must define yourself and either suck it up or become a statistic – 1 in 8 people will stick with it for a year.
This is the moment, the moment you decide if you are going to give into the frustration or fully commit to a new lifestyle. Fortunately, many have been in your shoes and you have several options for busting through the valley’s!
This is a great time for some active recovery! No, I don’t mean sit on the couch and watch Netflix for a week. Active Recovery is simply low intensity exercise. Athletes often do active recovery after a competition. You will not only recover from the stress you have put your body under, you will help remove lactic acid, keep your blood flow active and it’s darn relaxing! Take the dog out for some long walks. If you have a facility, go for a swim. Keep it low intensity and enjoy it.
De-load. If you have been punishing your body with lifting weights you might need to take a week and De-load. De-loading is a technique where you lighten the weight and lower the intensity for a period of time, often a week. De-loading allows your joints, tendons and ligaments to heal and repair. It can also give you a much needed mental break and reduce the risk of overtraining. You can’t be full Beast Mode all the time. Take a week and only do about 50-60% of your normal weight and intensity. Slow your reps down and feel your muscles engage. I like to de-load about every 6-8 weeks or when i’m starting to feel run down.
YES! I said CHEAT! If you have been strict on your diet up to this point, I give you permission to go get a slice of pizza and a beer! Eat something you enjoy in moderation. Notice I said a slice of pizza and not a whole pizza?!?! The mental and physical effects of changing your diet are enormous. You might hear some more advanced individuals talk about carb cycling or changing there diet all together. Cheating can give you the same benefit. So go out, have a nice time in moderation!
Now is a great time to get refocused and remotivated. Head out to your favorite supermarket or simply hop on bodybuilding.com and start reading fitness articles and magazines . Read other’s stories, look at pictures, read meal plans and workouts. Sometimes a little extra motivation is all you need to push through that plateau.
This one is dead simple. Change your workout. Yup, that’s it.. If you have been on the same routine since you started, it’s time for a change. An often overused(thanks p90x) but great word for this is Muscle Confusion. You need to continually challenge your muscles and there is no better way to do that than changing up your routine. There is no shortage of information or routines online. Take your pick and move some iron!
Add new music to your playlist. Music gets most of us going during our workout. All too often our playlists get stale. Take 20 minutes and fill up your phone with some fresh jams.
You have all seen the promises or heard the gym rats talk about what they are taking. You most likely are interested but aren’t sure what they do or what to even look for. There are some basics most people should be taking (in order of importance). 1. A good multivitamin 2. Protein 3. BCAA
If you want to know more or have questions, ask any muscle head at the gym or simply walk into a GNC store. GNC workers often take the products they sell and will be able to help you find what you need.
Busting through this plateau is a defining moment. At some point everyone has been faced with the same situation. How you handle it will define who you are and your character. Remember, the easy change is over… The real changes, the ones that are worth it take time.