Weak body parts can often be a major source of frustration, and in some…
Over the past 7.5 years, I’ve discovered that progress with fitness never really turns out as you expect. My results are a lot more predictable now, but it’s still very difficult to know when you will stall with your training and when you will hit a fat-loss plateau.
When these stalls do happen, it’s important to know how to deal with them. An interesting finding I’ve concluded, is that usually, the answer is not to continue to push harder and harder. Although it depends on the time you’ve spent pursuing this goal in particular. If you’ve already been chasing for 3+ months, you probably don’t want to keep pushing on and on until burnout.
However, if you’ve hit a brick wall before the 3 month mark, there’s something wrong in either your dieting technique or training strategy. You shouldn’t be hitting walls this early. You’re likely trying to do everything too fast, which is a classic mistake performed by 97% of the population. This gets worse every year without our “instant gratification” culture, but I won’t go into depth on that.
There is a small chance you’re not pushing hard enough. But this isn’t the same as hitting a “wall”, and you can just make a couple of tweaks and keep progressing.
But what happens if you’ve really stalled?
If you’ve been dieting (or bulking) for over 3 months, and you’re really stuck, the best approach is NOT to keep pushing. You need to back off. Take a deload week from training if you’re bulking, or take a full-blown maintenance period. Or it could be time to shift over into lower volume periods of pure strength training, depending on your goals.
Either way, what tends to happen is that your body adapts to a certain level of volume. This volume is only effective for so long – your body will adapt eventually. You can either raise the volume or drop it. But you have to remember, there is a definite ceiling of volume whereby you can’t keep pushing it, or you’ll get injured. At least, not without drugs.
Same thing happens when dieting. Eventually you adapt to the lower calories. At one point, this level would have put you into a large deficit; blasting that body fat away. But eventually, your body (and mind) adapts to this, and it stops working.
In both scenrios, you need to take some time off, you relieve the adaptations. You need time to focus on other things (or to simply maintain and re-sensitise your body). And although this may feel like wasted time, I can assure you it’s not. It’s time well spent, in the long-haul.
Re-sensitising your body to training volume OR lower calories will allow further changes in the future to have massive positive impact for minimal effort, instead of getting pissed off and frustrated at spinning your wheels with maximal effort.
If you’re stuck, the answer may not be to simply keep pushing. It may be, but it may not be. Backing off may have a far stronger effect, depending on the timeframes. If we’re talking a slightly longer-term stall, you need to take a diet break or a deload week (depending on the goal).
Fitness really is like anything else. You need to know when to go full-blast, and then when to back off and cruise. The cruising periods are absolutely crucial for recovery, both mentally and physically, and long-term progress. They allow you to focus on other endeavours too (i.e strength vs hypertrophy).