How can we overcome a sports plateau?

Here's what to do when you're not improving in your training
icon 3 min
© foodspring

You’ve been doing the same training routine several days a week for a few months now. You’ve made some changes to your diet and bought some new sports equipment, but your personal bests and goals aren’t improving. You seem to be going through athletic stagnation (also known as plateau) that’s preventing your training from progressing. Don’t worry! The first thing you should know is that this situation won’t last forever. The second thing is that you are not to blame. There are many external factors that can prevent you from achieving your goals.

What is the sport stagnation or plateau effect?

“The plateau effect is a phenomenon that refers to the stagnation or even regression of an athlete within a certain period of time after progress in his or her training” explains sports analysis expert Wu Xiangming. During this period, the athlete’s potential is not fully developed.

Can’t run faster, do more reps or lift more weight? You may feel helpless, as if you are trying to break down a stone wall. But don’t worry, because Wu Xiangming himself goes on to say that “once the plateau period is over, performance will improve again.”

So, don’t panic, because there are a series of recommendations or suggestions that can be followed so that you can overcome this stagnation, get back to feeling good and continue progressing in your training. Let’s see what can be done:

Redefine your goals: It is very important that you have clear and realistic goals. Maybe you’ve been chasing a goal in your training for some time and no matter how much effort and time you put into it, you can’t achieve it. It may be time to redefine your goals. There are different types of mental strategies on human motivation when it comes to fulfilling desires or goals. The WOOP method  , for example, can help you establish preferences and make a change in your habits.

The importance of rest: Are you sleeping long enough and of sufficient quality? A good rest is as important as a good training. There are several studies hat show that lack of sleep decreases the activity of protein synthesis pathways and increases the activity of degradation pathways. This favors the loss of muscle mass and hinders recovery after exercise. In addition, not getting enough sleep can make us more easily injured. There are supplements such as melatonin that can help you in this aspect. You can also take a look at our guide to sleeping better. Either way, make sure your body gets enough rest if you want to continue to perform when it comes to training.

Beware of over-training: Are you having trouble sleeping, feeling generally tired, often angry and in a bad mood? These are signs that you may be over-training. If you train very often and at high intensity, you should be aware of these types of problems, which are a clear indication that you may be over-training. Being motivated to train is positive but can backfire in the form of injury and fatigue.

Take advantage of sports nutrition: The world of sports nutrition continues to grow. It seeks to promote muscle development and cardiovascular endurance, while minimizing fat accumulation. Eating well, is fundamental, as is knowing how to make proper use of sports supplements. But it is true that making your own nutritional plan can end up being frustrating, as well as impractical because of the amount of knowledge required. A good idea may be to hire a professional who can help you develop a nutritional plan tailored to your workouts to get the maximum benefit.

Use passive distraction: Keeping your head busy while exercising can help you cope with the effort. A suitable playlist or the latest episode of your favorite podcast can increase your motivation and reinforce the brain signals that order the muscles to activate. This is explained by Marcelo Bigliassi, professor of Psychophysiology at Florida International University. This expert explains in a study published in the magazine Physiology & Behavior, that external attention helps the brain to protect itself from the effects of fatigue that affect sports performance.

No matter if it’s Rock, Hip Hop, Pop or electronic music, the perfect music to workout to is the one you like the most. A song that gets you pumped up or a podcast or audiobook will help you unwind and make your athletic efforts much easier.

Learn more about this topic at foodspring: 

Sources for this article

We at foodspring use only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.