This Is Why You Feel You Are Not Making Progress
The reality is we all go through them. You know, the dips. Those moments that can last for days and weeks, where you feel you’re not getting anywhere, you just want to kinda “take your toys and go home”. You feel you’re not making any progress, or even worse you feel you are regressing!!
What a horrible feeling! Especially when you work really hard to get those results.
But you know what, if we didn’t have those dips we would never see any progress in the first place, in anything. Whether it’s training, or a new diet or a change in lifestyle habits, or even building a business and a brand, believe it or not. Entrepreneurship takes you through the same process.
And actually it’s those dips that make you grow. What happens is the adaption process. And this is how it works:
This is your new training routine or you come back after months or years of not training.
And even if you have always been training when you start a new, intensive routine, that’s the stimulus that starts the adaptation process.
The Alarm Phase
The alarm phase follows the beginning of your training routine, or a new training routine, the initial stimulus.
This is where you feel you’re not going to make it. It’s difficult to push through. But that’s also when the adaptations in the nervous system occurs. It’s the first stage of adaptation.
Any stimulus will initially lead to a decrease in performance in the alarm phase. And this phase can last for days or weeks. During this period, you may experience fatigue, stiffness and soreness and a temporary drop in physical performance. Some confuse this with over training. Nope, that comes later and only if you keep doing the same things without changing anything, there are certain conditions.
The alarm phase is a must as without it we would not have the next stage, the adaptation phase. You must go through the alarm phase.
By the way, this is when most people give up. Whether we talk about a new diet, lifestyle or training routine, when the tough gets tough here’s where most give up. But if you push through it you reach the next stage.
If you “survive” the alarm phase adaptations begin to occur.
This is where your nervous system has adapted and you begin to notice muscular and aerobic adaptions. This is progress in performance.
There are also skeletal adaptations taking place and that is why it is essential not to grow the muscle mass too much too fast, to allow the skeletal changes to take place as well. Otherwise it will lead to joint damage. Slow progress is the best. It’s about building strong foundations first.
We’ve all heard about the plateau. You know, when you adapt to a certain routine and you stop making progress, or make very small progress.
It’s part of the adaptation process and unless you give the body another routine, to stimulate adaptation again, it will only be a maintenance program. You’re not getting anywhere when you hit that plateau.
Furthermore if you stay for too long in the plateau your performance will slowly begin to decrease as you reach the exhaustion phase which can lead to over training. This is where over training can occur.
This is where you need a scheduled break. By break I mean you either do a type of training like balance and fluid movement or do a different sport like swimming if you are a runner. You don’t just stop for a few weeks and do nothing at all.
The Exhaustion Phase
This is critical. You see so many gym enthusiasts doing the same routine for months, some even for years without changing much or anything at all.
Continuous exposure to the same routine, or stimulus, will eventually lead to overtraining. This is due to the inability of the body to tolerate the cumulative stress of the same stimulus over a period of time.
This is why I always say variation is key.
The exhaustion phase is characterised by a decrease in physical performance, as well as monotony, soreness and fatigue.
So the aim is to keep the body in the adaptation phase as long as possible. And to do this you need:
– periods of rest scheduled into the programme – remember rest doesn’t necesssarily mean you sleep all day and do nothing
– stimulus to be changed on a regular basis
This is how the process looks:
This is an element of the plateau which although it is not part of the adaptation process it’s something I’ve experienced in my athletic career and as a coach. And I’ve seen it in other sports people as well. Or rather heard about it.
The technical plateau is when you feel you just can’t get it right. You are still making progress in terms of adaptations, as we discussed above, but technical wise it feel weird and unusual. You just can’t get it right no matter how much you try. It’s like you have just lost your mojo, you know what I mean?
This is normal. It’s similar to the alarm phase. And what follows the alarm phase? Yep, adaption and progress. At some point you just get it right and it feels perfect.
So what do you do when you feel like you’ve lost your mojo?
1. Have patience
2. Focus on the process, on your training regime, rather than on how things are not working out right that moment. Do your very best.
3. Have a coach, who can tell you what’s happening and who has been and/or goes through similar experiences and is familiar with the 4. phases. I believe a coach should go through all the stages themselves to be able to guide others through them.
4. Know that, if you coach says your techniques is fine, you are just in a dip and when you come out of it, in a few days or weeks, you will witness great progress.
5. Vary your training. For example I look to do something else than Karate, like Obstacle Racing. When you train and focus too hard on one thing, in my case the World Championship, you stretch yourself too much. You stretch like a rubber band and there so much a rubber band can stretch. It needs a bit of slack as some point.
I’ve been an athlete since 1995. Can you imagine how many adaption processes I went through? And they are never the same. But it’s beautiful to come out on the other side and see the massive progress. And this also helps me understand the different phases my clients go through and I am able to guide them accordingly
The same process applies to a new diet, implementing habits in your life, getting a new job, becoming an entrepreneur, moving from one country to another. You go through the initial alarm phase, adaptation and then plateau.
In terms of diet and healthy habits however, you want to reach the plateau, that’s where it gets comfortable and your body has adapted to the new types of food and new habits. Simple right?
Now that you understand how it all works you will not give up after a month or two of training or trying something new right? You know you are going through the alarm phase.
Are you going through any alarm phases or plateaus and not sure how to get through them? Are you stuck? Book a FREE call with me and let’s see how you can get through it.