• Abby Heffern

Don't Fear the Training Plateau. Learn From It.

By Abby Heffern

If I could have any coaching mantra plastered onto a billboard or on a constant loop inside my athletes' heads, it would be "DON'T FEAR THE TRAINING PLATEAU. LEARN FROM IT." I know what you're thinking: Don't fear the inability to progress? Isn't that the whole purpose of what we're doing? How could that not be cause for panic and despair? Let's unpack this:

It's one of my most important jobs as a coach to avoid the "plateau" as much as possible and to put my athletes in a position where they're constantly progressing. But what I constantly find myself having to jam into the head of any athlete who walks through my door is that this progress is always non-linear. Most athletes have a HUGE misconception of what it means to progress in Weightlifting, running, or fitness. This misconception often leads to unnecessary negative emotions, which impairs their ability to stay focused on the task at hand and stay positive

about what they can accomplish.

Most athletes think progress=constantly increasing weight, pace, or ability. In reality, progress=a ton of up and downs with the goal being an upward trend over time. In other words: you hit plateaus, but even your plateaus are still higher than where you were, at your previous best. This is the "don't fear it" part of my billboard. Because while it's frustrating to not hit a goal at the exact moment you want to hit it, you know that this plateau is still at a higher point than where you were six months ago, a year ago, or five years ago. And being able to recognize this is what helps you step outside of your negative headspace and focus on the next move.

Once you've adjusted your definition of progress and had this reconciliation with yourself- you can put your frustration and disappointment aside and focus on learning from it. Plateaus aren't just a part of sport, they're a necessity that forces us as coaches and athletes to take a step back and look at what we could be doing better. Is there a technique error in the lifts that happens when the weight starts to get heavier? Awesome, let's work on it. Stuck not getting that skill because you've been neglecting upper body strength accessories? You'll see it in your program on Monday. Fell short of a race PR because you couldn't kick to the finish? Time to work on some finishing speed and muscular endurance. Not improving because you've been neglecting sleep, prehab, and general self care? We're going to take a step back and address those things.

Disappointment when you fall short of a goal is normal, and that moment has to be felt. I would never ask anyone to deny their emotions. But if you spend too much time wrapped up in disappointment and frustration, you'll miss the best possible opportunity to challenge yourself and become better.

Feel It. Don't Fear It. Learn From It. LFG.

Need help moving past a plateau? Interested in 1-on-1 or remote coaching? Contact us at wilddogatheltics.info@gmail.com, find us on Instagram @wild_dogathletics, or come visit us at 3125 Fortune Way, Wellington FL.

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