Ok, now on to plateaus in training!
Quick bit for context here:
I notice, anecdotally, that the first time people experience an ebbing off of progress, is once they train at Improver or Intermediate stage.
It can be a bit of a double whammy!
You go from being super comfortable in beginners, most likely one of the strongest in class, to a new class, with new people, perhaps a new instructor, and you *may* be the newest there. Then you get comfortable with all that and then you realise you’ve not learned anything new for three weeks. The whole thing can be a bit disheartening.
Here’s how I have dealt with plateaus in the past, and I’ll also share my perspective on how we can view plateaus differently.
1. Training happens in seasons, so you’re plateau is simply a maintenance phase that your body takes when it needs it
We would like to always run on an upward trajectory, but the truth is, sometimes body and mind need a bit of a break. They might not tell us directly, instead they’ll just take it, welcome to the plateau aka involuntary maintenance phase. By experiencing a plateau, you are most certainly not losing anything, if anything, it’s a period that solidifies everything you can do at this point in time. A great opportunity to refine and hone before your body is ready for the next push.
2. You plateau because you do too much
No rest, busy in all areas of life, stress, training 6 times a week. It may be that you are simply doing too much and need to incorporate a few more rest days for recovery. Technically, you can strength train every day, but it’s your levels of tiredness, recovery, enjoyment and progress that will inform you on what your ideal training frequency is. It might also be that you are doing a little too much of the same thing, and not challenging yourself in other areas.
3. You plateau because you chase the wrong thing
When I was obsessed with an Ayesha deadlift, it’s all I trained 6 days a week = exhausted, miserable, on a perceived plateau because I measured all my progress on this one damn move, so everything else I did, I discarded as “meh, not special, it isn’t a deadlift”. Once I realised that this move actually just hurts my shoulders and doesn’t agree with my body shape, I left it and embraced my current style of pole and away I went.
4. You plateau because you do too little
I think it’s fucking awesome when people train pole or aerial once a week or fortnight, to dance, move, have an hour away from life and responsibilities and just enjoy themselves with no expectations. You guys ABSOLUTELY ROCK!
However, if your goals and values are different to the ones in the paragraph above and you want to be doing deadlifts, aerial inverts, straddle ups, split tricks, long combos without coming off the hoop, silks or pole, and you currently do one sesh a week and nothing else, you may want to consider adding a second class. Or doing a yoga class at home, or grabbing one of Pole Strong’s programs or trying out one of our in person and online flexibility (yep, flexibility training is in fact strength training and amazing cross training for pole/aerial) or Pilates classes. Literally any movement is better than none, and even going for a walk will help if you have big strength, endurance or flex goals.
5. You plateau because your class doesn’t meet your needs
If you’ve outgrown the level of your class, but don’t really know it, you’ll be working at the same level forever. If you feel like your class, or apparatus isn’t providing enough of a challenge, switch it up. Try different sessions, teachers, styles. I know it’s mega scary to change levels, or teachers, or indeed disciplines or studios but sometimes we have to change what we do, how we do it, and with who, to push past a period in limbo.
6. You aren’t actually plateauing at all, and progress just slows as it does when you become more pro
Yup, sadly there isn’t any more to this 🙂 Please see my incredibly professional graphic below haha! When you start something, the wins come flooding in, session after session. You’re pumped and feel invincible. As you get stronger, more skilled, the shit you’re learning becomes harder, more complex, more challenging. As a result, it takes longer to learn. So you’re not actually plateauing at all, you’re just experiencing the normal levelling off of the pole and aerial progression curve. The shape of this curve shouldn’t dishearten anyone at all, in fact, I think it’s wonderful! It shows that the hard earned wins at Intermediate and Advanced stage are built on the steep curve at the start of your journey. Everything stacks on top of each other. Nailing a new choreo, combo or hold after chipping away at it for weeks, or even months feels sooooooo good. And yes, smashing three new pole seats in one lesson feels bloody good too, there is equal joy in both. Let’s celebrate it. The many wins, the quick wins, the long wins, the tiny wins, the big wins. And let’s enjoy what we do, whether there are wins or none, and set aside some of the bullshit metrics we like to beat ourselves with. Doesn’t matter how long stuff takes, that someone else makes it look easier, that the person who started after you is nailing it before you. The win is in the doing, in the enjoying ❤
Pole and aerial are things we do to add to our lives, so let’s cultivate our training as such.
Looking forward to your thoughts on this one!