one of the most dreaded words in training: plateau. we’ve all hit them; we’ve all had to figure out a way to break through them. they can be frustrating as hell, they can kill your spirit, make you wonder if your body has just…permanently stopped progressing.
story time: about a year ago i decided to start really concentrating on strength training. i had always lifted, but i had been shoulder pressing with 10-lb. dumbbells for two years. sometimes if i was feeling feisty i would pull out the 15s. but i had remained in this ridiculous stasis for a long, long time.
yet the idea of suddenly doing more can be daunting. ‘what if i can’t do it? what if this is really it for my body?’ when i finally started adding weight to my lifts, and doing some powerlifting, i came up with my guiding mantra: “do one thing better.”
every day that i get to the gym or lace up my shoes, i promise myself that i will do at least one thing better than the day before. maybe i push out one more rep on the bench. if i’ve been squatting the same three weights for a week, i add five pounds to each set. if i can’t make all of my reps, that’s fine. it leaves me something to shoot for the next time.
it doesn’t always have to be about weight or reps or times, either. when i first started doing longer runs, i had no idea how to train intelligently. i would go out too fast, blow through 6 miles in under 48 minutes and then have to drag myself through the last five. “doing one thing better” for me as a new runner became learning to run smarter. every long became not about overall time, but about pacing, fueling, hydrating. doing one thing better so that i finished strong and felt good.
as a yogi, my intentions for my classes became more centered on focus – ‘try and stay focused just a little more today, see how well you can maintain your breath, try to not get frustrated.’ do one thing better.
it’s tempting to want to do everything better, every time. but small gradual progress will keep your goals close at hand and keep you fired up. especially if you’re trying to bust through a plateau, or if you’re just looking for a new mantra to spice things up: “do one thing better.”