You’ve been training faithfully, doing the best you know how to do. But you are not making progress anymore. What might be going on? 

Training involves these three variables…

  • What kind of work you do = the kind of activity and what aspects of the performance system the activity is challenging
  • How much of this work you do in terms of volume and intensity
  • When and how often you do this work, which involves rest and recovery also

A comprehensive training plan would answer those questions at all scales…

  • In a single activity 
  • In a series of activities within a single training session
  • In a series of sessions over a number of days = a microcycle
  • In a series of microcycles =mesocycle (over a number of weeks)
  • In a series of mesocycles = a macrocycle (over a number of months)

Then there are two phases in the development process…

  • Normalization phase – At a chosen level of challenge, take the time (over days or weeks) to normalize the workload physically and mentally so that your body is able to build homeostasis and efficiency around it
  • Disruption phase – Then, in a specific way and amount, increase the workload in order to disrupt that homeostasis you just developed and provoke a new level of adaptation

If you are not getting stronger or faster, and you suspect that your training regime is the likely cause, then your problem and solution are found by examining these variables and phases to find where the improvement opportunity is.  You could be wasting your time on the wrong kinds of activities. You could be doing too much or too little work in a session. You could be doing too much or not enough work over the week. You could be stuck in the normalization phase, not challenging the systems that need it, or stuck in the disruption phase in challenging the systems too much or too soon. 

Photo by Silas Baisch on Unsplash

Good training plans address those first three variables in a thoughtful way – they say, “Do this activity, in this amount, at this frequency for this reason”. Exceptional training plans go further and guide you in personalizing the training process to your body’s rate of development in your unique context – they say, “Do this. These are the signs that you need to continue with the same, then these are the signs that you are ready to change the challenge in certain ways”. This is very hard to do on your own, but, with experience or with a coach assisting, you can sense how long you need to stay in the normalization phase and then when is the optimal time and what is the optimal way of increasing the workload. 

Your body will get stronger and faster when it has a good arrangement of activities and is given time to adapt to those activities, then subjected to a new level of challenge at the right moment.


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