3 Overlooked Ways to Make Consistent Progress.

Plateaus are the pits, amirite?

Let’s forget the fact that in order to GET to a plateau you likely just had a season of massive improvement. Because really that just makes the ensuing plateau all the more frustrating. Doesn’t it?

“Wasn’t I just objectively CRUSHING every single part of my life? What is going on now!?”

There’s the obvious (and correct) answer that continuous improvement in any skill isn’t possible. We have to have times where we muddle through, attempting tasks that are too difficult for our current level before we can break out into the warm sun of doing the thing.

Victories are meaningless without defeat. Or whatever.

But simply because we can’t see consistent IMPROVEMENT doesn’t mean that we can’t make consistent PROGRESS.

An old coach of mine from my high school days used to tell us:

“Gradually, gradually, gradually. Suddenly. That’s what skills are made of.”

It’s the slog through the gradual that gets us to the other side of success.


1) Training Frequency.

“Just keep swimming.”

That forgetful little fish knew a lot about life for someone that couldn’t remember much about her own. The defining characteristic of Dori through “Finding Nemo” and “Finding Dori” is that she just doesn’t give up.

She’s here for it. Even if she can’t remember exactly what ‘it’ is.

Training frequency is the number of sessions you spend in the gym per week.

If you’re also attending practices, this becomes another piece of your training frequency.

On the surface, training frequency doesn’t seem that important. You either train a lot or you don’t. The real sticking point with how often you train is: HOW OFTEN ARE YOU ACTUALLY TRAINING?

Are you really showing up consistently in the gym or on track?

Life gets busy, it happens to all of us. And I’m certainly not judging you. But if you’re stuck on a plateau it’s time to really look at how consistent you are. When it comes to training, consistency is greater than anything else.

It might be necessary to make adjustments to your training so that you can be more consistent.

  • Is your gym too far away? Consider finding a new one.
  • Do you hate training surrounded by strangers? Maybe it’s time to build a stellar home gym.
  • Are you constantly shirking your training? Schedule it like an appointment.

The choice is yours. If getting better is important to you, you have to figure out how to make it work.

2) Volume.

Consistency feeds the volume beast. Volume is the primary driver of adaptation within your body (i.e. the thing that allows you to get better/faster/stronger).

Volume represents the total amount of work that you do over a given session.

More volume will lead to more progress because it means more time spent working against resistance, practicing better movement patterns, and challenging your body in a way that, over time, it will recover from better.

This leads to increased strength and athleticism, which means more opportunities for growth. (And avoiding the dreaded plateaus.)

Getting stuck working against the same resistance in the same set and rep schemes as every other day is a good way to make your consistency meaningless. So how do you increase volume?

Improve a little every day.

Try to get more reps with good form than you did the last time. Add another set or two on days when you have tons of energy and are ready to breathe fire.

This is especially important when you can’t increase your weight for whatever reason — that’s intensity, not volume — but know that you need to continually challenge yourself.

Those little extras add up to more progress over time.

3) Recovery.

Never let it be said that I don’t like a good nap.

Recovery is more than this, of course, but it’s so easy to overlook that I probably should have put this at the top of the list. Training for roller derby — in the gym and on the track — is so demanding on both your muscles and your central nervous system, that a major key to continued progress is recovery.

The reality of training is this:

When you’re lifting in the gym, you’re not actually building up your muscles, you’re breaking them down.

Pushing your body in the gym and during practice (especially if strength or muscular endurance is your goal) causes microscopic tears in your muscle fibers depleting them of energy. You know how you feel tired after a gym session or practice? Or how you’re sore the next day?

That’s your poor, torn up muscles begging for rest.

Give them enough (nutrient dense, macro balanced) foods, high-quality sleep, and active recovery and your muscles will come back better and stronger than before. But you HAVE to give them time to repair. If your recovery plan is off, your body WILL express its displeasure: elevated heart rate, trouble sleeping, PLATEAUS, and — worst case scenario — injury.

Want to get continually improve? Rest and recovery need to be at the top of your list.


4) Get a coach.

It can be hard to look at the bigger picture when you’re standing in the frame. It’s like when you try to take a good selfie, but keep accidentally cutting your own head off. Sometimes you just can’t see the exact angle you need to take to get the result that you want.

Even with all the tips and knowledge in the world at your fingertips, you get bogged down by minutiae or you don’t have anything holding you accountable or you haven’t put any skin in the game.

Coaching provides you with all of that.

If you’ve been languishing in limbo for long enough that frustration is your constant companion, consider seeing out someone to take the burden from you. Someone that you can outsource that work and frustration to that can help you reach your potential.

Sometimes all you want to do is just put your nose to the grindstone.

Coaches can help you do that.


If you're stuck on a plateau it's time to really look at how consistent you are. When it comes to training, CONSISTENCY > ANYTHING ELSE. Click To Tweet

Often the hell that is a plateau has you rethinking everything you’ve ever known. But it’s not always necessary to scrap what you’re doing and go back to the drawing board. Just a few little tweaks might help you out of that rut and into even greater improvement.

Want more?

If you’re ready to break free of your plateau or start making consistent progress towards improvement, apply here to work with me. We’ll chat about your goals, your current training plan, and all of the options I have to help you level up your game.


About IronOctopusFitness

Online athletic training and nutrition coach, full-time mom, okay skater, and connoisseur of all things tea, chocolate, and roller derby. I'll help you unleash your inner athlete by building a strong, capable body that can withstand whatever life throws at you.

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