A key issue that a lot of people have with training – both athletes and people training for fitness – is seeing results consistently. They might see a couple of weeks or month of improvements, followed by weeks of stagnation, or worse, a regression back to where they started. This usually results in frustration, leaving them asking “why aren’t I getting anywhere??” and, occasionally, people giving up completely.
So what causes stagnation, or a negative reduction in training results? If you’re healthy then the answer is always the same: the body is not receiving the required stimulus to change.
The body is lazy. It will quite happily carry on working the way it is doing until it is given a reason to do something else. If the body is asked to lift a heavier weight than it does normally, or for more reps than normal, then it panics! This panic will cause it to adapt by becoming stronger and more efficient at recovery. If the body is asked to run further or at a faster pace than normal, then it will panic again. In this instance the body will adapt by producing more red blood cells and increasing the force of the heart to move more oxygen around.
However, if the body is asked to lift the weight it is used to lifting, or running the distance that it’s used to lifting at a pace it can do easily, then no panic occurs. The body is not sufficiently stressed to feel the need to adapt. This will lead to stagnation. Even worse than that, if the body recieves no stimulus at all, then its fitness will reduce. For the person training for health, this is can be demoralising. For the competitive athlete, it can be disastrous!