Overcoming Training Plateaus:
The Mental Factor.
by Julio A. Salado., NSCA-CPT., USAW Coach
Although our thoughts are processed in the brain, I believe our mind is in our heart. This is evident when an individual’s determination fuels them enough to push them over the finish line of a marathon. This phenomenon can be witness when an individual, despite all odds, takes their first step towards living a healthier life.
There is a connection between our heart and ability to achieve our goals. Although fitness requires energy and physical strength nothing else compares to our mental energy. By looking within for inspiration, we set off a biochemical chain of events. Endorphins are released and you run that extra 5 minutes on the treadmill or lift that extra 5lbs despite fatigue. Maybe, it’s a image of what you are working towards, a picture of a loved one or raw focus that takes you to the next level. It all begins with the mind not with sugar loaded beverages.
However when the initial enthusiasm of embarking on a new journey fades the mind rebels with questions.
Here are some symptoms of mental roadblocks that can stump your training program:
This usually begins 3-5 weeks into a training program and cycles about every 3-6 months.
*Decrease interest in favorite activities
*Changes in appetite, Irritability, Sleeplessness,
*You begin to minimize achievements.
*Drift away from program and resume old habits.
*Executing poor form in exercises. May lead to injuries.
*Strategies for the Mental Plateau:
Here are some favorite quotes. ‘Bring the body to the gym and the mind will follow.’ And ‘Thoughts are like clouds and they will pass.’
When you are in the midst of mental block try to do the following:
*Review your workout program. Are you overtraining?
*Speak about your mental roadblock. By sharing you lessen the mental baggage and get feedback.
*Practice patience, diligence in all activities not just in your workout.
*Focus on right breathing and awareness of correct exercise form.
*Participate in a group class.
* Plan in advance the workout and duration.
* Remember to eat your pre and post workout meals.
*Take an extra day off from the gym. Focus on nutrition.
Training is not all physical. It requires preparation and a daily resolve to continue and give 100%.
I personally do the following when I sense the mind weighing me down.
*Revisit the basic, such as bodyweight exercises:
*Power naps! Daily 10-30 minutes of recharging.
*Drink water throughout the day.
*Ask a friend to join you.
*Take a group class.
*Be grateful for your current health.
If you see it, you can achieve it! When your body is physically changing from your hard work in the gym the mind needs to readjust too. Every workout you do is a stepping stone. Every time you show up for life it is an achievement.
Mental roadblocks are like castles made of sand. Eventually, they will fall into the sea of your perseverance. Ask for help and remember you are not alone.
Be well and stay ACTIVE!!
Julio A. Salado, NSCA C.P.T., USAW Coach
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