It is all about showing up day in and day out, but at a certain point that is no longer enough. Plateaus happen to everybody (unless you’re on some special juice) and although they suck, they are an opportunity to get better. If a plateau is reached, then it means it is either time to take a step back, work on recovery, or make a massive push forward.
When to Step Back
If you stop improving, it may be due to fatigue that has added up. Although you may not feel tired, your body may need a bit of rest in order to really get to that next level. The stresses consistently may not allow the body to recover, and this forces the body to stagnate. Gains in both body composition and especially strength are made during times of rest. The work put in when in the gym stresses the body, but all of the major changes take place when the body is able to recover.
Work on Recovery
Recovering is something that many people take for granted. It is the single most important aspect from training, and not nearly enough people care to hear it. If your goal is to be competitive then it is absolutely essential that you get enough protein, sleep, and food in order to fuel your body. For the average gym goer, they can get away with a bit less sleep so long as their diet is on point. Healthy foods are the last key to recovery. There are little to no lean gains made by eating low quality fast food. Although that is an option for putting on a ton of mass everywhere (especially the gut).
The Big Push Forward
Sometimes your current plan just isn’t enough anymore to make changes to your body. If the goal is strength based then it may require that you eat more food, or lift heavier weight. For weight loss it may be going to the gym an extra day a week, or making the workouts longer in order to accomplish more. It could be as simple as eating a few hundred less calories. The point is that although you plateaued, it does not mean you can never improve again, even if it feels like that.
Whether it be more rest, more effort towards recovery, or just a new level of training, the plateau is always able to get through. Slow progress is still progress. Fall in love with the grind and nothing will stop you.