Recently I’ve been going through somewhat of a training slump and to be honest I don’t know what to do about it.
I am coming up to 10 years of lifting this December and have lots of content planned for you all via this blog and on YouTube – just a side note. But as this 10 year mark draws closer, it has meant a serious lack of motivation to lift, and I’ve never experienced anything like this before.
This isn’t a case of getting bored two weeks into lifting or losing motivation as soon as winter arrives. I’ve been consistent for 10 years with no issues. I understand the long game and have lots of love for lifting. Lifting has given me an identity after all. I also understand motivation is just what gets you started. It’s habits and discipline which keeps you going.
It’s just that which is the issue. I’ve been disciplined with my training for so long, that now I’m not (and missing many sessions), I can’t seem to get back ‘on it’. I’ve spiraled out of routine and do a sporadic session here and there without satisfaction.
It was December of 2008 I first joined a gym. It was Harry Mitchells Leisure Centre, here in Smethwick. My goal was to increase muscle mass and strength and that goal remains to this day. It’s just that this goal alone doesn’t give me the same fire as it used to. I don’t know if it’s the slow gains that come after nearly a decade of lifting (which you have to work super hard for) or just the monotony of my morning sessions and routine.
I’ve done what I always do when in a pickle and gone to google baba for some answers. I didn’t find much advice for people classified as intermediate/advanced lifters (lifting for more than 5 years). All blog posts and advice tended to be for beginners and changing things up.
Part of me thinks just to take some time off. It won’t hurt, the gym isn’t going anywhere after all, but my motivation and drive may return. The other part of me is curious and adamant to get to the bottom of this. I have a few theories:
My first theory is that I need to re-define my goals and change-up my routine accordingly
I’ve seen a lot of Napoleon Hill’s videos, one of the legendary motivational speakers. One of the things he suggests is writing down all your goals and aspirations on paper and reading them daily to keep them fresh in your mind and your efforts targeted. I think this is important for the gym too.
It’s important to have goals to move towards when training, especially long-term. Otherwise once you’ve lost the weight or done the 120kg bench press things get very monotonous very quickly. Whether it’s to keep you sane, to continually gain muscle and strength, the health benefits etc. it’s important to always move towards a goal.
Right now my main aims in the gym are to move better on the Olympic lifts (technical goal which keeps me mobile and light) as well as to get stronger on the 5 lifts. They are the bench press, squat, deadlift, clean and jerk and snatch. I have specific numbers I wish to reach short-term and life goals too.
Seeing this on paper daily can help you to think your efforts have a direction.
My second theory is that I need to try new things
Years ago I created a routine for myself and 3 friends. It was a cycle routine where the reps and exercises would change weekly, we made great gains. On the 4th week we did something called a shock week. It was a week where you would come in to the gym and then decide what to do, it was usually something very random and was very fun because it was spontaneous.
I have recently showed more interest into yoga, weightlifting and wrestling and enjoy them. Still keeping me active, strong and mobile but completely different to a few hours in the gym working on muscle mass.
The hope with both of the above is that my efforts are focused. Focusing on 5 lifts, as well as getting started with wrestling 3 times a week and doing yoga once a week with the occasional swim and sauna session can get overwhelming very quickly. Balance is the key and finding the routine that will work for me to be consistent with everything I do.
I’m quite excited about planning this. Most likely I’ll be dropping resistance training right back to 2 or 3 sessions per week, something which I’ve never done before.
My third theory is that I’m a little lost without weekly gains
For the last 3 or 4 years I’ve really placed more of an emphasis on strength and trying to increase it effectively. As a result each week I’ve seen great gains. I kinda have a hack here, I try new things all the time so always feel great with the PB’s (personal bests). But even with the things that are consistent, the squats, the deadlifts and all of the other compound lifts I’ve gained strength almost weekly for a long time.
This changed around June of this year. All of a sudden my volume wasn’t working, the hacks and technique improvements on my bench press which saw my numbers shoot up eventually halted, and I haven’t really hit any big lifts PB’s since. Just like people search for pills and supplements for a certain low effort result, I’ve been looking to different training techniques and programs to hop onto to get the gains going again. It hasn’t happened.
I don’t think this is anything serious, probably just a realisation that I’m no longer getting beginner gains with strength training. A realisation that I don’t want to hear, but still a reality.
For now I’m just taking a break, training as and when I feel like it (once or twice a week). I’m pretty sure it’s normal to go through these phases of not being driven at all towards something I’m passionate about. I’m just a little taken back by what’s happening because it’s not happened before, working out has always been something I’ve woken up for and looked forward to.
I can’t wait until that fire comes back, because not working out is a great way to feel low and stay in that feeling.