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by Gunnar Anderson (Follow him on Instagram @theonepecwonder)
There are very few things in life that go straight up, or straight down without some sort of halting or stopping point. We could be talking about a career, we could be talking about a relationship, or we could be talking about fitness; whatever it may be, there will be a plateau. A plateau is frustrating, and it can dampen the spirits of even the most enthusiastic. But it is important to remember, no matter how severe the plateau, there is always a way to break through.
I have run through several plateaus in life. I have been in relationships that start out great. Everything goes wonderful for a month or two, then all of a sudden things just seem routine. This can happen literally anywhere in life, but especially in the gym.
I love the gym. I have been called a fitness enthusiast, a fitness guru, and a fitness freak. Pretty much everyone can say they see the benefits of working out, but not everyone can say they love doing it. I am one of those weirdos that can say I love it. Not only do I enjoy the training aspect, but also I love the camaraderie. The friends I’ve met at the gym come from all walks of life. Of course you have the Bodybuilders and the trainers, but also orthopedic surgeons, actors, investment bankers, entrepreneurs, writers, scientists, med school students… the list goes on and on.
I am also fascinated by the science of training. The idea of pushing your body past its own limitations and seeing how it responds and adapts is one of the most interesting things in the world to me. Even with all this passion, love and genuine interest in the gym, I still hit plateaus.
A physical plateau is easy to get around. If I have been doing the same type of workouts for a few weeks and eating the same things, all I need to do to jump past the plateau is change things up. I could change up the amount of calories I take in during a day. I could change the number of repetitions I perform on a given exercise. There are tons of ways I could break through. All it takes is slight change.
A mental plateau is an entirely different animal. Hitting a mental plateau can mean many things, but most notably it means you reach a point where you don’t get excited anymore. I have been there before. Suddenly I woke up one day and did not want to go. I felt like I had to go, and I forced myself to the gym. This is one of the worst things to do.
I felt like I’d hit a wall. I couldn’t put my finger on a single factor that made me feel this way, but I knew something wasn’t right. Still, I forced myself to go everyday and continue my training. Eventually I looked into it. I googled things such as “loss of motivation” and “mental plateau.” The results weren’t great, as is usually the case when googling symptoms.
Finally I had had enough. I decided to step away from the gym for a while. I took seven days and planned a mini vacation with a few friends. We went on a spur of the moment beach trip and spent four days lounging in the sand being bums. On the ride home I found myself thinking about training and how excited I was to get back into the routine. It was amazing.
I believe that we can have too much of a good thing. I think that even the things we enjoy the most must be set aside at times to make sure they don’t lose their luster. As it turns out all I needed was time away to mentally reset myself. I walked into the gym the following Monday and had the best workout I’d had in months.
In order to break a mental plateau, you have to remember what is great about what you’re doing. You have to recall what drove you to it in the first place. How could I have ever expected myself to remember why I loved training if I was forcing myself to be there daily? It would’ve been impossible. I’m not advocating that spending four days as a beach bum could solve all of your problems, but take my example and make it applicable to your own needs. Take a step back from things, and try to regain perspective. It saved my love for the gym, and broke through my plateau.