While you will notice almost daily improvements from workout to workout in the beginning, every athlete will sooner or later get into a phase of seeming stagnation. First, relative progress decreases steadily – be it in performance or in physical development – until one day, it will be extremely hard to achieve any improvement – even though you may still be giving it your best effort! This is not the time to give up. It is, however, the point to find the possible causes and make appropriate adjustments. Below, we will describe the five most common reasons for lack of progress and what you can do to counteract it.
Technique - the key to success!
Workouts and exercises practiced frequently and involving a certain routine periodically require you to take a look in the mirror and check yourself, to have other athletes review your work or to record your workout on video and compare your performance with the tutorial videos.
Even experienced Free Athletes at a very high fitness level repeatedly find weak points and optimization gaps during their workouts or mistakes that creep in repeatedly. Constant checking and improving the technique can help you take your training to the next level and to make it more effective. A good way to consciously focus on execution, posture and body tension and to optimize them, is to complete exercises with low repetition rates as technique training.
Stimulus for training – Keep boredom at bay!
Working out means exposing your body to stimuli that it adapts to and in the course of which it will reach a higher level. If, however, you repeat the same workouts and exercises too often, or if you don’t increase the degree of difficulty and volume, hardly any new training stimuli will be achieved. As a result, stressed muscles will barely be developed any further.
We therefore recommend to athletes who train without the Coach to dare to attempt workouts and exercises which they have never done before or to train with the Coach which will take into consideration increasing levels of difficulty, volume, changing workouts and training workloads and thus put you on the fastest route to achieving your objective.
To athletes training with the Coach and having the feeling of not getting ahead, we recommend, for a week or two, to change the Coach-Focus and to work on other athletic abilities. Endurance sessions, for example, may help with strength building, and vice versa. The Freeletics workout and exercise portfolio covers all muscle groups and types of stresses – but only if it is used in all its diversity.
Regeneration - Strength is born of rest!
If the body is not given sufficient time for regeneration, the systems involved – muscles, metabolism, lung, nervous and cardiovascular systems – constantly find themselves in a slightly depleted state and thus unable to perform optimally. A reduced training workload as well as taking longer breaks between workouts will give your body the time it needs to process the stimuli of high intensity training.
Sleep - when the body is running on overdrive
Closely related to the theme of regeneration is the topic of sleep. The above systems regenerate during sleep. If you sleep irregularly, restlessly or simply too little, the hormones essential for regeneration cannot work effectively. This may result in weak performance, sluggish development and low stress tolerance, but also in negative effects on mental performance.
It is therefore advisable to accustom yourself to a regular sleep pattern by trying to go to bed and rise at the same time, and to get about 7.5 hours of good sleep to best take advantage of sleep cycles.
Athletes suffering from sleep disorders of any kind should avoid training shortly before bedtime, because it increases one’s body temperature for several hours after training and impacts the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Having a big evening meal may also complicate falling asleep and the onset of the desired recovery processes, as the body uses too much energy on the process of digestion.
If you suffer from severe sleep problems, which do not improve despite the above recommendations, you should search for the cause and, if necessary, consult a doctor. Achieving a good sleep pattern is necessary for good athletic performance and the quality of life in general. Also overtraining with inadequate recovery breaks can vice versa manifest itself in insomnia.
Nutrition - the right fuel is decisive!
One of the most common reasons for performance stagnation is a diet not tuned to your needs. While it is easy to find an acute cause for some not-satisfactory training performance – such as eating too much or too shortly before training, excessive alcohol consumption or general performance-reducing factors such as cigarettes – you will need to take a closer look, if stagnation persists over a longer period. Keep asking yourself: What are the factors affecting my performance? Where can I get more out of my training?
Do I absorb too much or too little of a nutrient type? Is there a mismatch of macro-nutrients? Is the quality of the food I consume high enough or do the “little sins” take over? Do I absorb sufficient micro-nutrients from fresh fruit and vegetables? Is my water intake adequate?
Throughout an athlete’s career, changes in athletic and physical development are accompanied by changes in nutritional requirements. What worked well at the start may later on show only small effects. The reason is that your metabolism is adapting too. The good news: Especially in the field of nutrition, you may sometimes have to adjust only a few small screws, which will then drive you to new peak performances.
So if you have the feeling of not getting ahead or if you feel weak and exhausted in any way, other factors may often be the cause – not the training itself. Physical and athletic developments or performances do not distinguish an athlete, but mental strength does: the decision not to resign but to identify weaknesses, to work on them, and to continue to develop. In this, each athlete starts at his own level and will have to find inner strength: be it a beginner who improves his performance in a workout by several minutes from today to tomorrow, or be it an advanced athlete who struggles for weeks to improve his performance by a few seconds: Sweat, effort, and the absolute will to continue and to improve yourself steadily will make a Free Athlete out of every one of us!