Martial Arts Training CoachingFitness Training for the Martial Artist

Step Two: Your Body is a Cage – Break Free a Little Bit
Dealing with Plateaus

You’ve found your initial limits, and you’ve trained hard to get past them. You’ve seen improvement, and things are going well. One day, however, you walk in to train, and you feel lifeless, sluggish, slow. You chalk it up to a bad day, or one too many pints the night before, and finish up the routine. The next day, the same thing happens. And the next, and the next.

Congratulations! You’ve hit a plateau! Don’t be alarmed though, and don’t feel like you are a loser. It happens to everyone. And it will happen again to you.

So why does this happen, and what can I do about it?

In their book, Physiology of Sport and Exercise: 3rd Edition,J.H.Wilmoreand D.L. Costill provide five principles which can help determine how to move past a plateau. While I won’t go into great detail in this article, I suggest a Google search of this book and their work.

  1. The Principle Of Individual Differences

Simply put, this principle means because we’re all different, we all respond differently to training. In other words, one size does not fit all.

  1. The Principle of Overload

The principle of overload means in order to improve, a greater than usual stress is needed. Want to get stronger? Use heavier weights. Want more cardio endurance? Do more cardio.

  1. The Principle of Progression

In this principle, the implication is there is an optimal level of overload that should be achieved, and an optimal time frame for this overload to occur. In common terms, slow and steady increase wins the race, coupled with enough rest and recovery.

  1. The Principle of Adaptation

The human body has an amazing ability to adjust to increase or decreased physical demands. If you perform a skill or task over and over, you usually get very proficient in that task. Eventually, you may reach the point where it becomes second nature, and seemingly no effort is required

  1. The Principle of Use/Disuse

Simply put, this is the “use it or lose it” principle.

  1. The Principle of Specificity

The Specificity Principle simply states that exercising a certain body part or component of the body primarily develops that part.

So how do these help you? Take a look at your routine, and ask some questions:
· Is it designed for a 15st man and you weigh 10st? Change it to match your body type.
· Did you jump in both feet and try to do master level workout? Dial it back, and do what you can do.
· Are you doing the same thing every day? Vary your routine. Do rowing instead of running, kata instead of 100 heavy bag kicks. Switch it up for a couple of weeks.
· Recognize you may actually have gained proficiency. This is good, so work on another technique.

The point here is this: plateaus happen, but they aren’t the end of the world. Examine your routine, and make some changes. Or take a break for a week. Not usually something martial artists want to do, but sometimes it’s necessary.