Have you stopped making progress toward your goals? Does it feel like you’re training without any improvement? You may be in a fitness plateau. This happens when your body adapts to the stress you’ve applied, and stagnates in a training equilibrium. In the training world, we call this being “stale” or hitting a plateau. In order to avoid this dreaded state, read on for tips and tricks.
As a COROS athlete, you have access to the EvoLab software to help you mitigate any staleness. Two metrics you should follow closely are the “Fatigue” and “Training Load” tools. When looking at these metrics, keep in mind that training is meant to fatigue the body, and rest is meant to allow for adaptation. Keeping these tools and training principles in mind, let's discuss a few common reasons for a fitness plateau.
Maintaining the Same Training Load
As you begin training for your season or a specific event, your training load is sure to increase. You will quickly see improvements and progress toward your yearly goals. Once you have built your training frequency and volume, training load tends to stagnate. For most athletes, this will happen somewhere between weeks 10-20. For athletes monitoring training load, you want to keep an eye on your training load going up, down, or staying the same. If your training load has remained within the same range for 4-6+ weeks, you may be entering a fitness plateau.
Too Much Fatigue
For most athletes starting out, they fall into the trap of more training equals more fitness. Let’s remember that we train to stress the body, and recovery to adapt. If you are never recovering from the stress, you are limiting how much your fitness can improve. If using the EvoLab software, you want to be aware if your fatigue is lingering above 75. There is a time and place to push your fatigue, but that shouldn't be for the entire season. Prolonged time in a fatigued state is robbing you of fitness improvements and chasing your overall goals.
Consistently Low HRV
Perhaps your fatigue is showing as low, but your HRV remains consistently low as well. Are there other factors outside of training causing stress? Sometimes a poor diet, stressful month at work/school, or other life factors can create a high level of stress on the body. While we are able to measure training stress in EvoLab, we rely on HRV to measure daily stress from other factors. If you continually have a low HRV rating, it can limit the intensity of your training. Be sure to keep track of your HRV to help identify when the body is ready to handle higher levels of training stress.
Manage Your Training
You want to be aiming for a steady increase in training load, and to recover when appropriate. This sounds easy enough, but the art of managing a training plan must incorporate these principles in a real-world scenario. By having an awareness of where these numbers rank and how to utilize them, you can begin to maximize your day-to-day training decisions.
How to Increase Training Load
When looking to increase your fitness, you have three options. You can add training frequency, intensity, or volume. If you’re in a rut and within the same training load range each week, look to see if you can add any of these three options. You should aim to only increase one of these factors while the other two stay the same. For example, if you’re training for a marathon and you currently run 6x a week for 50 miles total, you may want to incorporate more tempo/threshold miles to increase your training load. On the flip side, if you are only doing intense runs (zone 3 or above) and running most days each week, you may want to add in some longer runs at an easy pace.
It is easy for athletes to stagnate their fitness. The body wants to be comfortable and find the path of least resistance forward. In order to push through any plateaus in your fitness, you need to push more frequency, intensity, or volume. As you do so, your training load will increase and fitness should continue to trend upwards. If you monitor your fatigue and ensure you are allowing your body to recover, you will see continued improvements throughout the year. Utilize the COROS EvoLab software, and begin to explore perfection!