One of the most common questions I receive is from people who have hit a plateau and they want to start making progress again. They could be struggling to build muscle, increase strength, or lose weight but the scenario is always the same.
In full disclosure, it’s almost impossible for me to know what the average individual needs to do to continue making progress. Everyone is different, and every goal requires the alignment of countless variables from protein intake to how they handle stress.
With all of the differences from one person to the next and all of the variables involved, any advice for me would be basically an estimated guess at best.
There is a simple method I use to target what someone needs to do to make progress again. I encourage the individual to do a little self-assessment to identify the most unstable variables in their approach.
All forms of progression come from a foundation of stability. The moment you reach the limits of your stability is the moment you stop making progress. Once you become more stable you will make progress once again.
Stability comes in many forms. Here are a few examples to inspire you where to look in your own lifestyle:
#1 Diet stability
Are your eating habits consistent from one day to the next? Or are you “eating clean” one day and getting banned for life from the Chinese Buffet the next? Keeping a stable diet means eating roughly the same types of foods, in the same quantities around the same times on a regular basis.
#2 Exercise stability
Do you stick to a regular workout routine on a weekly basis? Or are your workout habits up and down as you’re program hopping from one routine to the next each week? Keeping a consistent workout routine for at least 3-4 months will go a long way to keeping your training habits stable.
#3 Lifestyle stability
This includes other habits like sleep habits, hobbies, and other activities. When your life is always up and down it can throw your body and mind off balance making is very hard to make any sort of progress.
#4 Physical stability
Do you feel strong and rock-solid while doing an exercise? Or do you feel like you’re wiggling around as you struggle to complete each set? Go ahead and watch some workout videos of accomplished athletes. You won’t find a whole lot of squirming around as they struggle to do their job. If anything, they look like machines as they make each action look easy. That’s stability.
#5 Emotional and mental stability
Your emotional and mental state is everything. You can’t get very far if you’re amped to work out one day and then second-guessing or berating yourself the next.
Once you find where the instability is in your body, mind, or habits you will be able to address that particular issue and know that that is what is holding you back.
Keep in mind, you will probably need to address the areas you haven’t been thinking about very much. People tend to stabilize the things they have the most attention. For example, if you are trying to lose weight through eating as clean as possible chances are your diet may be very stable. However, if you don’t really think much about being physically active or having a positive relationship with your body then that’s the area you may need to address. So think outside the box and consider the variables that may not seem that important.
In the end, you were born to make progress. Your body wants to get stronger and healthier. You want to advance and it’s not terribly difficult to do so in a more stable environment be it physically, emotionally or in lifestyle. So knowing that finding a greater sense of stability will make it easier to progress can give you the motivation to seek out the instability in your approach.