Plateau Frustration

I’ve been feeling pretty frustrated the last few weeks about my current plateau.  Not my weight loss targets since that is going great, but the other half of the training program – the strength training program.  I’ve made little progress on this front since mid-summer, and in some areas I feel like I am regressing, especially on the upper body workouts.

  • Chest Press is down a few pounds and struggling to maintain that even
  • Shoulder Press has been out of rotation since the neck pain a few weeks ago that hasn’t fully healed either and was stuck before that.
  • Pull-up/Chin-Up – continue to reduce assistance but more or less in-line with weight loss, so effective weight is still around 190-195.
  • Rear row – minor progress
  • Leg Press – only area with good progress, I presume since cardio helps too
  • Calf Extension – similar to leg press.
  • 100 Push Up Challenge – not feeling the progress week on week as I am with the crunches – exactly opposite as I thought I would feel on Day 1.
  • A laundry list of odd little things that make me feel like I’m pushing it close to injury (elbow sometimes, shoulders are often quite stiff in the morning all the time now, etc).

Initially I tied this to my cardio craze during the job transition, but since then, the issues remain.  I always knew that strong weight loss and strength training are difficult to achieve at the same time (strength training is difficult on a reduced calorie diet since building muscle requires energy).  I am deeply aware that my current fitness program is chock full of many compromises that make it far from ideal.  I had no illusions that I had hit upon a secret formula that would evade these truths.

But … I thought I would get further before getting stuck.  I also am concerned the weights and the push-ups are counter-productive and part of the problem – muscle needs rest time to grow.  Between weight nights and push-up nights and interim progress tests, the chest is lucky to get 1 day a week off.  (Crunches aren’t a problem – the current fitness program skips the abs).  Making it all seem pointless on some nights like Week 4, Day 2 last week where I considered chucking the whole thing and just going cardio til I get down in weight.

On the other hand, I’m also afraid to muck with the overall program – it has worked amazingly well on the weight loss front, so much better than I thought possible and so easily in some ways and I want that to continue.  The deep muscle energy depletion I get from the workouts makes the cardio that much more effective I think.

Rock, hard place, frustration!  Maybe a little primal screaming will help.

About J.

40 year old IT guy on a health and fitness kick.

Posted on November 2, 2011, in Fitness, Personal, Weight, Workouts and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. For what it’s worth, I didn’t exercise at all while on vacation last week – I mean, some days, I didn’t go more than 2,000 steps. We’re talking zero activity. But, ta-da, I lost 2.5 pounds. I don’t recommend you become a total sloth like I did, but what about skipping weights and going lighter on cardio for a week and seeing how you bounce back?

    • I probably really should take a week off, but on the other, hand I feel like I should melt off this fat while the melting is good. Winter may provide a mandatory break in any case shortly depending on how it goes. If I get through this push up / crunch challenge at some point, I am not immediately starting the squats or dips one right away til I get this sorted.

  2. When I was having issues I changed my time of day that I was working out. It was a miserable transitionbut it paid off forme. Sometimes I think our bodies computer needs a reboot. Justa thought…nothing to ba,k it up really. And above all…this too shall pass. I promise.

  3. It is so very hard to get that part tweeked right. I believe you are spot on with the reduced calorie and muscle growth. Are you planning to push below your goal weight to allow for the 5 to 10 pound pump up you will get once you start eating to grow muscles?? Or are you cool with the 10 pound bump as long as it is muscle?

    I have really struggled with that one. It actually caused my 5 month plateau–now I am back at the weight loss with plans to go below my goal to allow for the bump up.

    • I hadn’t really decided, mostly since I don’t really have a final target weight. More of a general area. I do think once I get to where I feel the weight is overall acceptable, I start using body fat/measurements as primary progress tools, with weight being more general tracking.

  4. I have started to notice the same thing on the upper body weights as well. Although I am not all that concerned about it right now since I am more focused on losing the weight to start…and I am not hoping for huge, sculpted muscles even after the weight is off. 😉

    I think you’re probably on to something with the reduced calorie vs muscle building, though…and Shonnie seems to have a good idea as far as losing a little extra to account for muslce growth later. You’re doing wonderfully, so I’m sure you’ll work it out. 🙂


  5. I caved and just did cardio last night. See how it goes.

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