It’s one week in to the New Year and you may be feeling like you’ve fallen behind with your progress! Don’t worry, that’s normal since for the majority of us, we would have had at least 1 or 2 weeks off over the Christmas and New Year break to spend some time catching up with family and friends.
Although it may feel like you’ve taken a few steps back, it won’t be long until you’re back to where you were again – and then in no time you’ll be a little further ahead.
You’ve got to understand that life gets in the way and that there are moments where your progress and your journey won’t be linear. For everyone, it is always going to have its ups and downs. It’s understanding that and how you respond to it that’s going to make a difference in the long term.
In fact, to get the best progress overall, sometimes you will actually need to force yourself to take a step back in order to move forward.
A simple example is taking a rest day. A rest day is where you are taking a planned break from your training to allow your body to recover. If you’re hammering your muscles, joints, and nervous system day in and day out, you are going to suffer. It would be wise to take 1-2 days off during the week from high intensity training, and in those days if you want to stay active, you could do some lighter, lower intensity activity, where you’re not stressing your body so much.
Anything like going for a walk, playing a sport that you enjoy, doing a light stretching/mobility routine, or just generally being more active throughout the day doing whatever it is you do.
Or it could just be doing nothing and just enjoying life.
What you’re doing is allowing your body a chance to recover so that it can have the capacity to improve and adapt to the training and stress that you’ve put on it. What seems like a step backwards (because you’re taking a day off) is actually going to be much more beneficial for you in the long term than how it feels right now.
Another example of taking a step back in order to progress is scaling back movements to improve technique and positioning.
Sometimes you just want to lift heavy and improve those numbers. But if lifting heavy comes at the cost of your technique, then the risk outweighs any potential benefit. There are plenty of ways to get stronger and plenty of ways to express that strength rather than just focusing purely on the numbers that you’re lifting.
For example, being able to hold a certain weightlifting position longer, or with more control, or your technique improves with any given weight – are all signs that you are getting stronger, even though the weights may not have increased.
It requires patience, and again, that understanding that sometimes you will need to take a step back in order to continue to progress.
When you come to terms with the fact that your progression isn’t going to be an entirely straight line going up, you will also end up putting less pressure on yourself to perform, and in fact will enjoy the process of training that much more.