Progress In the Gym Isn’t Linear
In case the title of this post wasn’t clear enough…
…let me repeat (but in capital letters for added emphasis).
PROGRESS IN THE GYM ISN’T LINEAR.1
Sorry, It’s a Fact
I wish it wasn’t, but that’s how things work. Well, save for the stark beginner/newbie you can LOOK at a barbell and seemingly grow or get stronger.
Ah, the good ol’ days…😢
I had an interaction recently with a client of mine where this topic came up. We were meandering our way through a pretty brutal bench day and my client ended up getting pretty bummed he wasn’t able to hit his (goal) numbers for the day.
His program said “x,” but his body was like “nope, nice try.”
The fact I took weight off the bar and pivoted from what was planned irked him.
I reminded him of a few things to help put things into perspective:
1️⃣ The day prior, he had deadlifted the most he had ever deadlifted…ever.
300 lb for 3×5.
That undoubtedly played into things.
2️⃣ I then drew this fancy graph:
I reminded him that progress in the gym (or anything really) – whether it be rehab, learning an instrument, dating, or honing your nunchuck skills – isn’t linear.
You’re going to have great workouts and subpar ones.
(NOTE: I’d make the case that it’s the average workouts, the ones where you just show up, do the work, and nothing remotely interesting happens, and then you just go home and watch a marathon of House Hunters is the sweet spot anyway.)
There’s going to be peaks and valleys, struggles and wins. However, so long as the OVERALL TREND is inching upward, that’s the larger theme to keep in mind.
Missing lifts routinely is something else entirely and speaks to a larger issue:
- Lack of recovery between sessions.
- Too much training volume overall.
- Not enough Wu-Tang.
However, so long as the occasion is ephemeral in nature and not something that happens every Tuesday, not hitting your goal numbers during a session is nothing to be too concerned about. You still showed up and did some work.
That’s not nothing.
Consistency trumps ego.