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Why is my fitness not improving?

We have all been there, we have been training hard and made some great progress, but recently things have slowed down, stopped or actually gotten worse! This can quite frustrating and demotivating.


So why might your fitness not be progressing?


Hopefully by the end of this you might have an understanding as to why.

First of all let’s take it back to basics. There are fundamental principles that we manipulate to ensure our progress.


The FITT Principle stands for:

Frequency - which is the number of times you train per week

Intensity - the amount and level of work done

Time- the time spent in the session

Type – the type of training and exercises done.


When you start to train toward your goal these principles should be set based on what is specific and realistic to you.


Reason being is that your body is an amazing durable piece of machinery. It can respond and adapt to the stresses you put on it. This is referred to Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands which basically means, Adaptation is directly proportional to the demands placed on the body by the volume (quantity), frequency, and intensity (load) of training, as well as the body’s capability to adapt to such demands.


Meaning If the body is presented with a demand rationally greater than it is accustomed to and enough recovery time is given to trained physiological, systems, it adapts to the stressor by becoming stronger.


So what does this mean if your fitness has plateaued? It means that the current program / loads/ intensity / volume / rest periods no longer stress your body enough to make an adaptation/ improvement.


How to change it? Aim to increase one of the principles, add another day, increase time while keeping the quality there, increase the intensity and or switch it up. Its really that simple on paper……


That being said your progress can also be halted by doing too much and under recovering. You may be working at a level above your physiological comfort zone. It is only with proper rest and recovery, you will you improve. Lack of proper recovery can quickly move you from a state of overreaching to a state of overtraining.


Overtraining signs are signals that an you are adapting poorly, or not at all, to the training regimen. 

Classic signs of overtraining include;

A heart rate that is higher than usual,

Irritability;

Trouble sleeping;

Loss of appetite;

Muscles that are more fatigued, sore, and feel more restricted.


These too are often signs of overreaching, but if they exceed more than a few days this may indicate overtraining rather than overreaching.


Ultimately plateaus in performance can be very demotivating, especially for an athlete and the tendency is always to do more, but there is a fine line between overreaching and overtraining. Sometimes a de-load week, some active recovery can shift the fitness curve back in the right direction through something called supercompensation which is the process of the body adapting.


On the flip side if you always stay in that comfort zone using comfortable loads, speeds etc, then expect the same.


I’ll leave you with a definition - Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.


Until next time stay active.


Image from bodybuilding.com

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