Updated: Oct 27, 2022
Reaching a plateau in your training and not progressing with your goals can be frustrating.
While there are many reasons that can contribute to why you are not progressing in the gym, I want to touch a few common reasons I have encountered over the years with clients.
“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success. Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything. If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” - Edward Everett Hale
If you think you've hit a roadblock with your training, then keep reading.
The first reason, which is often overlooked, is that you’re not progressively overloading in your training. So what does progressive overload mean?
To challenge your body and allow your musculoskeletal system to be stronger, you need to gradually increase either repetitions, weight or frequency in your sessions. By changing your workouts and adding additional tension to your muscles, you can avoid plateauing, which is when your body adapts to the type of exercise you’re doing. As you use the progressive overload strategy, you will start to notice that you feel fitter and stronger. This tool is helpful with cardiovascular activity too! For example, in the first month of strength training, you might perform 10 repetitions at one weight. Then, the next month, you would perform 12 reps of that exercise. Or maybe you stick to 10 reps but rather increase the weight you’re using.
By doing the same workout on repeat or using the same amount of weight every time you train, leads to lull in training. While this can absolutely be seen as a positive sign and highlight that you’ve made some progress in your fitness journey, it’s also a signal that it’s time to mix things up. Progressive overload needs to be implemented gradually. This avoids injury and is why I meticulously build in those progressions for my Online Programming Clients each week to ensure there is individual progress over time and create the right amount of challenge.
Rest and Recovery
The second reason is that you are not spending enough time resting and recovering. Your muscles need time to repair and grow stronger. Not resting actually hinders your performance and muscle health. Adequate recovery will also decrease muscle soreness and help prevent injury or overtraining.
Your body uses fuel in the form of glycogen for energy to power through your exercises. That glycogen is stored in the muscle tissues and the liver where it is then released during physical activity to keep you going. So, when you use up the existing glycogen stores, your body needs rest days and adequate nutrition to replenish for future workouts.
There are two types of rest days; active and passive. An active rest day will involve a lower impact type of movement, such as a long walk, stretch or yoga. Active rest days promote increased blood flow, decrease your lactic acid build up, improve muscle flexibility and leave you feeling less sore post-workout. Incorporating movement into your everyday life is beneficial for the health of your muscles and heart. A passive rest day is a day of complete rest.
Changing Programs Too Often
Next up, You are changing your workouts up too often and not sticking to a program. There is so much value in sticking to a program and focusing on perfecting the movements within that program. This is where I come in! My primary job is to ensure there is a plan in place every time you walk into the gym instead of randomly selecting exercises for that day.
Under-eating or Snacking Too Often
Another reason I've encountered over the years is that you’re potentially not eating enough food or snacking too often but not eating enough balanced meals. If you’re starving by lunchtime and you haven't eaten anything that day or not for several hours, it’s time to incorporate breakfast and/or a mid morning snack.
When it comes to nutrition, if you fail to prepare then prepare to fail. Not packing lunch will lead to snacking all day, which leaves you feeling unsatisfied and means you’re more likely to adopt unhealthy eating patterns. "Fun Foods" - as I like to call them are - important, and don’t need to be banned. If you plan your daily meals and incorporate some of your favourite fun foods into your week, then you won’t be starving and reach for those foods out of convenience. Account for them, but also prepare meals that nourish your body and support your training and goals.
You're Looking For A Quick Fix
The last reason is big, it's vital! And it's so common...
You’re looking for a quick fix instead of focusing on longevity. Seeing results will take time and putting a deadline on your health, creates frustration and ultimately leads to searching for fast alternatives. Optimal health should always be a goal we are striving for - without an end date. It is and always will be timeless!
To address the above five issues, it’s important to implement progressive overloading, rest, eating nourishing meals often, be realistic, recognise why movement is important to you and respect the long-term, consistent goal of being strong and healthy.