• Lawrence Trousdale-Smith

Beast mode vs Progress-Why backing off can help break plateaus

If you’re consistently achieving the results your desire, then i congratulate you on your hard work and hope your progress continues into the far future. However, you may be working your arse off but still falling short of where you want to be. Logic says your just not working hard enough, so is the obvious solution to work harder until things start going right?

  • Constantly training to hit personal records every session

  • Taking each set to failure with very minimal rest

  • Training even if exhausted/underfed/sick

  • Not taking periods of recovery or “deload” periods

  • Training through pain and injuries

We could go on, this style of training takes many forms, but is ultimately flawed in its concept that hard work always wins.

If you’re currently not getting the results you desire, or even just had a bad workout, your first temptation may be to add additional work into your program. This can take many forms, such a additional reps/sets/weight/exercises or even a whole other workout day on top of your schedule. Even if this gives you the results you desire short term, you may hit another plateau, at which point you add more work and the cycle repeats itself.

Not feeling strong today

The mindset and methods for sustainable progress

If you’re constantly pushing for PB’s and exhausting your body in every workout, you are displaying your strength instead of building it. Picture the powerlifter who tries to lift 95-100% of their max load in every session. You will simply burnout before you can make any decent progress.

Decide what your goals are-strength/hypertrophy/attaining a new skill. You cannot have it all at once, at least if you don’t want to take 10 years to progress. Pick 1-2 goals that compliment each other and work towards them. A few examples are listed below.

  • Planche & one arm chin up - opposing muscle groups, both respond well to strength training stimulus

  • Dip plus bodyweight & Double bodyweight squat - opposing body parts, both can be measured in a linear fashion by tracking weight

  • 30s freestanding handstand &pistol squat - opposing body parts, both require a skill based approach due to balancing nature of the movement

Remember these are just examples to showcase reasons why goals may compliment each other, train for what you yourself want to achieve.

Once you have this in check, remember to make recovery a priority.

Basic recovery protocols


The first question to ask yourself-How is your sleep? This isn’t a sexy subject and won’t sell magazines or ebooks, but if you don’t take it as seriously as your training you are going to see sub par results. Take the necessary action to get the right amount of sleep for you.

  • Reduce distractions-no screens 30 minutes before bed

  • Keep the bedroom as dark as possible

  • Light stretching

Eat well-

You can’t go far wrong with eating whole foods, I recommend the paleo approach as a guideline. If it once crawled, walked, slithered or swam then you will most likely benefit from making it a part of your nutrition, try to choose free-range where possible.


No seriously, turn the phone off and avoid coffee aside from as a pre-workout stimulant.


Take your time, get some sleep, and get some real food. Do this consistently and reap the benefits.


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