The CrossFit Plateau

Ive been involved with CrossFit for over 6 years now and have been training for over 13 years! Through this time Ive made hundreds of mistakes and I have also experienced times where I didn’t seem to improve!

I know you have probably experienced this yourself in life and training!

So how do you get out of this and continue to improve and adapt?

If you’d like some more specific information for the training athletes that might help you out and if you have any questions comment below or drop me an email (

An easy way to get an idea of some of the issues we see is to look at someone in the workplace.

Once you’ve had a job for some time its extremely easy to get comfortable. This can be because you feel secure or you’re doing repetitive unchallenging work.

If you’re not seeing Change or getting Challenged it is extremely easy to cruise and not improve. You may be given a new challenging task! But once you’ve done it all for a while it stops becoming challenging anymore because you adapt to the task!

Finally you can have outside factors affecting your job. Like finances, stress or lack of sleep! Most important of all are you actually enjoying your job, training or whatever you’re doing?!?

So you’ve spotted some of the issues you can come up against which can stop your personal improvement. Lets look at them a little more in-depth and how you can use these with your training!

Are you cruising?

Usually the first step to take when you find yourself plateauing is to point the finger and blame other factors. Lets turn that around! Ask yourself……. Are you actually putting the effort in?

At the end of the day if you’re not pushing yourself or hunting for improvement, are you actually going to improve? When you first start an exercise routine or any physical activity, you’re going to see an improvement because your body adapts quickly. After a while you need to make sure you’re pushing yourself in order to continue those improvements.

Being a little more specific with reference to CrossFit may give you a better understanding. Are YOU;

  • Spending time to work on your technique and basic movement efficiency (Or are you too good for that insert wink face)
  • During strength work are you pushing yourself or trying to improve in even the slightest.
  • In a WOD are you working as hard as you can?

So the first step is analyse you’re training and try to find if there is something you can do better. Being honest to yourself and asking your coaches for honest feedback can be a great way to understand!

Some of the best leaders and individuals I have ever met always looked at themselves for improvements. The worst leaders always pointed the fingers!


Having said the above, there can definitely be reasons for not improving. Including what training you’re actually doing or are you being coached well and so on.

One huge factor can actually be patience and persistence! I’ve had numerous occasions where I haven’t improved for months, then out of nowhere you set PB’s everywhere. This can be because of the way your training has been designed.

Dont forget that the longer you train, the longer it is going to take to improve. If you continued to improve at the rate you did when you first started we would all be at the Olympics!!

So the second lesson is sometimes you have to be patient and keep persistent!

Adaptation to training

Training 101

You perform a physical activity. It stresses your body. You body learns to adapt to the stress. You get fitter and stronger.

If the stress doesn’t change or is in a similar fashion every time, eventually you’re body will get used to it and will stop adapting.

For example if you follow the same training program. Including similar or the same rep range, loading and movement patterns you’re body will eventually stop improving. You need to find new ways to stress your body!

At ShireFit we design an initial template and then create the program we want. Some of the things we consider are:

  • The strength cycle – How do we adapt it, make it different and stress your central nervous system differently.
  • Technique and Basics – Are we continuously improving and developing the basics?
  • Gymnastics – Are we challenging the most advanced athlete whilst offering the right way to develop the brand new member?
  • Conditioning – Is there intensity for all? We all LOVE intensity!

If you have found yourself stuck and not improving, look at your training and see if you have adapted to what you’re doing? Ask your coach for information on how the programming works and if there is anything you can do to help your training!

Outside Factors

Now, if you listened to our coaching team you may have heard them say about your Central Nervous System! Shortened to CNS. As a really brief overview, your CNS controls how you react and perform during exercise. If your CNS is overworked…. Your performance decreases as does your recovery.

So the next question is maybe your overtraining? Look at it like this and which one would you rather do?

  1. Train 90% of the week at 60% of your ability


2) Train 75% of the week at 80% of your ability

A great coach will program to allow your recovery and to make sure your CNS isn’t hit too much in one go. If you’re unsure about over doing it or how to control your training volume then give us a shout!

Finally when we look at outside factors we have so many small facets that can change how we train, how we work and how we feel:

  • Sleep patterns
  • Nutrition
  • Stress levels
  • Fear
  • Hormones

Look and think about how much recovery you’re getting. If you’re sleeping and eating correctly (especially based on how hard you’re training). Stress can have a huge affect on your CNS and your body! I know I never perform as well when Im going through a stressful period!

Trying to balance these has really hard. The first step is to actually recognise them and begin to slowly work on them! Balance is important to look after your body and to make sure your performance doesn’t start to decrease.

The Why?!

I think this is probably the most important one. There are no studies to prove how this can affect your performance or change it. The WHY?

Something I think about a lot and probably ask too little. Why are you doing it? This may be your job, it may be a new challenge, it may be your training routine. I think you need a strong WHY to continue on your path.

If there is no reason to your action, it can usually become meaningless. Just something you do because its part of your routine. Ask yourself why you do it? Oh and your why can change over time.

Mine started in CrossFit so I could train hard, improve and most importantly compete and win. Overtime my reason changed quite rapidly. Now the why to my individual training is to actually have fun, give myself an hour everyday to relax and to have the fitness to take on any task outside of the gym I want to.

So ask yourself the why? Write down goals and get a better understanding off your path.

Feeling like your stuck, slowing down or never moving forward can be a horrible feeling. Think about the above steps and think about the relevance to your situation. After which the best step is to actually speak to someone.

If you’re finding your training isn’t improving you then look to speak to one of your coaches about how to change that!

Most importantly….. enjoy whatever you’re doing, don’t stress and keep looking to better yourself at every opportunity.