Let’s imagine that one day, when you are training Muay Thai, your instructor asks you to spar with someone new. You’re confident, you’re ready, and in less than two minutes all of those feelings are gone. Your new sparring partner made you feel like a beginner, and he dominated all of the exchanges.
How did this happen?
Your instructor walks over to your partner to congratulate him on a job well done while you sit there in utter disbelief. Not only have you been beaten, but you have been beaten by someone you thought you were better than.
As with any martial art, it is common to experience ups and downs in your training progression. But what happens when you’ve reached that much dreaded plateau?
Most people who train martial arts compare this to a kiss of death. It is the point where you’ve done all that you can to be the best, and all of the sudden you discover that your best isn’t enough. In the worst case, you may find that you are actually regressing.
So how do you know if you’ve plateaued?
Here are a few common symptoms of the plateau:
1) You’re starting to lose ground against your lower ranked peers.
2) You can’t execute any of the new techniques you are learning.
3) You find yourself avoiding spars because you are unsure of your skills.
A plateau in training can be the result of a wide range of issues. One of the reasons could be that your mind is simply somewhere else. Sometimes, when you are preoccupied with other important matters, you lose focus on your training and your performance suffers.
Another reason may be related to your training partners. If you’ve trained with the same people day in and day out over an extended period of time, it is likely that you have figured each other out already.
The list goes on and on. Whatever the cause may be, it is important you recognize that it is happening and figure out a way to overcome it. Plateaus are one of the most frustrating parts of training, especially if you’re looking to compete or progress in your sport.
So how do you overcome the dreaded plateau?
Here are a few suggestions on how you can overcome the plateau and get back on track in your martial arts training:
1) GET INSPIRED
Watch some YouTube videos of your favorite sports heroes. Fall in love with your sport again, and try to remember the reason why you’ve devoted so much time and effort to it.
2) TAKE A BREAK
Relax. Take a few days off. Watch a movie. Do some yoga. There are other things to life than training; maybe you need to expand your horizons.
Try new techniques. Experiment with new styles and training methods. Make things new, exciting, and challenging for yourself again. Sometimes, we just need to find that one move or technique that will make everything click again.
4) CHANGE FOCUS
Instead of obsessing over winning every exchange of every sparring session, why not try to focus on some smaller victories? Congratulate yourself every time you’ve had success with a new technique or when you’ve pushed yourself extra hard in a training session. Remember, all of these small wins add up in the end and equate to progression!
5) CHANGE YOUR LIFESTYLE
Whether you’ve had too many late nights, eaten too much junk food or drank too many sodas, living an unhealthy lifestyle will definitely take a toll on your body. Try being more kind to your body and nourish it by drinking a lot of water, sleeping 8 hours a day, and eating clean. Your body will thank you for it, and your performance in training will improve dramatically!
A plateau can happen to anyone!
Whether you are a weekend warrior or a regular gym goer, a fitness plateau can happen to all of us.
When you feel like you’ve stopped making progress with your regular routine; it doesn’t mean that you should give up. It just means that your body has gotten used to your workout routine – it needs to be challenged.
If your body is screaming for change, mix up your workout routine by trying new sports or activities. Your body needs to be surprised every now and then – why not take the opportunity to do it today?
It is important to remember that everyone goes through this phase in their martial arts and fitness journey. Going through a plateau isn’t the end of the world; it’s just a part of training and a new challenge to overcome. Now go and enjoy your next training session!