Two Steps Forward One Step Back

Two steps forward one step back.

One can look at this phrase many different ways.  Most tend to look at this phrase as a phrase of failure.  Optimistic people will say it's a phrase of success since you are still moving forward.  I look at this phrase as neither, but as a teacher or coach.  

A good teacher or coach always reminds and tells their pupils to brush up on the fundamentals and what they learned in the past.  In school, how many times in math class did you have to go back a chapter and remind yourself of a special formula you learned prior?  Nowadays when writing a professional e-mail don't you ever quick Google correct grammar or format?  You took multiple steps forward, but you always take steps back to sharpen your craft.

In those examples it's never looked at as bad thing when going back.  It's just something you do.  When it comes to people's health and fitness, this taking a step back concept is met with so much push-back and frustration.  

Failing at your diet for one meal or regressing to lifting a weight that you did 6 months ago makes most feel like a failure.  Why didn't Googling how to format a business letter make you feel like a failure?  People are too hard on themselves when it comes to health and fitness.  This excess pressure we put on ourselves leads to further failure and unhealthy habits (link to past Snowball Effect blog).

I aspire to be like my past great teachers and coaches.  With my clients I always try to take 2 steps forward and 1 step back.  I like to often have them complete "beginner" exercises or use lighter weight they used months ago to reinforce proper muscle activation and form.  If they hit a strength plateau rather than adding more weight orexercises to their program I usually pull back to less weight and or less exercises.  

Rather than trying the latest crazy fad diet, counting calories, tracking macros, supplementing with the latest and greatest, I often give the simple advice of eating 4 balanced meals of real food a day.  A protein, a green veggie and a non processed carb at every meal.  

I'll take a step back for a week or two and then try to ramp them back up to take those steps forward again.  

Try this with your own training or dieting this week.  If you hit a plateau with a certain exercise really boil it down to the basics and focus on that for this week.  

I did this with a client who was having trouble progressing with their bench press.  They hit a plateau at 195 lbs.  Here what was going on was once it got to heavier weight they stopped activating their lats during the lift.  So last week their workout consisted of non weighted bench presses focusing on form and lat activation again.  This is stuff I did with him his very first workout (I've been training him for 3 months now).  After that we did dumbbell chest presses to change the modality away from using a barbell and used higher reps so we could ingrain the movement pattern into his brain.  So this week we hit the barbell bench press again and he busted through the plateau of 195 lbs.  

Two steps forward and 1 step back.  That's my advice to you!

Like, share, and have a great week,

Mark Radio  

Mark Radio is CPT through ACSM, certified nutritional counselor, and has a BA in Exercise Science. He is an Exercise Physiologist/Manager for Body Elite Inc. and owner of Hardcore Home Fitness, LLC.