Breaking Plateaus


This blog is written to inform athletes on how to get closer to their highest potential. The perfect solution to breaking a plateau or just plain progress is different from athlete to athlete. We need to start with broad and encompassing facts about plateaus and then get more specific to fit your situation. This is just one of the many ways to approach it. Take this blog post as the first step.

Strength is a lifetime journey we have all embarked on in our CrossFit careers. From day 1 of Elements, the quality of our mechanics was the first priority. Moving forward, Intensity (ex. Range of motion, speed, weight, etc.) can increase when the athlete can demonstrate consistent mechanics in that certain movement. As we progress, there are inevitable blocks along the way. However, it is important to understand they are part of the process. Trust the process.

During your first year of fitness, your body is beginning to make many adaptations. Those adaptation have allowed you to see huge progress. Your mechanics are pretty good while you are no doubt getting stronger.  You are rewarded with a gold ribbon in Wodify every Sunday for reaching new personal bests - there is no stopping you! We refer to this as your “freshman year.” Eventually, we notice those ribbons become a bit more rare. You can’t seem to get over that old 1 rep max deadlift from 6 months ago. Does this mean that you have reached your highest potential? Far from it!  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the ever-frustrating Plateau.

A plateau is when we begin to see little or no gains in our numbers.  How are we supposed to combat this you may ask? First we need to find out why you are stuck…

In most cases,  we need to go back to the basics and check out the foundation. Could your squat mechanics improve? Is your bottom position unstable? Could your front rack be better? These are all questions you have to ask yourself and answer honestly. It is quite possible that your current mechanics/ positioning in your movements have hindered your strength improvements. The strongest people in the world have found close to the perfect combination of strength and mechanics that fit their physique and this has taken decades of focusing on the littles things. If you feel like you fall into this category, find out where your positioning, mechanics, mobility etc. can be improved upon and attack it! You can do this by getting on a mobility program or getting on an empty barbell 3x/week to practice your pulls. This list can get long but when it is approached properly, it is not overwhelming.

In other cases the athlete's mechanics and mobility far exceed their brute strength. For the sake of the conversation, consider brute strength as your Deadlift, Squat, Strict Press, and Power variations of the Clean and Snatch. The solution here is simple yet requires just as much, if not more dedication than our “foundational” crew. Assuming great mechanics are present in the brute strength movements, you need to see them more often.  The biggest “bang for your buck” lift would be your squat. If you feel like you are in this boat, you should be seeing a squat at least 2x/week.

Understand these categories are not a one size fits all.  This is just our first step in getting you back on (I hate to say it) the "Gain Train". We need to hold the smallest details of our fitness to the highest of standards by to ensure constant improvement. Again, this is a broad prescription for the general population. Start the conversation with a highly knowledgeable Coach to personalize the above prescriptions. 


- Coach Clay