Fitness & Deliberate Practice – Progress in Different Stages/ How to Break Plateaus?

Previously, if you have well defined specific goal, successful example to follow and guidance from mentors/coaches,  you can save a lot of times.  If you really want to step up your game, more rules are needed.  Today, we will continue to discuss《Deliberate Practice》& Fitness to help you break the plateaus and keep making progress.  Including:

  1. Different stages in Fitness Journey.
  2. The keys to keep making progress.
  3. The way to break a plateaus.


Different stages in Fitness Journey.

The Fitness Journey for most guys can categorised as few stages:


Stage 1: Beginner Stage

Meaning the first ~1-2 years.  Everyone can make the most & fast progress in this stage.  You will learn the basic fitness knowledge about training and nutrition.  You will gain muscle & strength significantly.  The gains will be directly proportional to your efforts.  The more you pay, the more you gain.  But some people still remain in this stage even if they trained for years  Because they are not working hard enough.  Remember, progress is not guaranteed.   The key is Hard Work.  You will start to commit to the Fitness Journey.


Stage 2: Getting Serious

Once you have experienced the fast growth in the previous stage, you will hit plateaus, you become more stable.  The progress is very slow, if not stationary.  In this stage, you will feel bored and inpatient.  Know that you have given all you got, but yet, the result is not significant.  If you don’t work hard, you will lose your gains, but further dedication seems no promising.  There are a lot of obstacles in the ways.  In this stage, PERSISTENCE is needed as well as hard work.  There are several scenarios happened in this stage.

  1. You start to lose your motivation/interest, and then later your gains.
  2. Continue to work hard and stay fit & strong. This requires the keys to keep making progress for further improvement. We will discuss it later.
  3. Continue to work hard, and then break the plateaus. This requires a way to break the plateaus.  We will discuss it later too.


Stage 3: Road to Mastery.

To master any aspects, as well as Fitness requires long years of practising.  To reach that level, you must persist and overcome dozens of obstacles, plateaus and breakthroughs over and over again.  You are then getting closer and closer to MASTERY.

There is only a small % of people can reach this level.  It is not relied on just training years nor experienced.  10,000 hours of practicing to becoming a expert, is just a Myth.  Without deliberate practice and continuous breakthrough, people will just reach a certain level and hit the plateaus.  Even if they spend more time in practicing the same stuff, they just can’t get the result they want.


The Keys to Keep Making Progress.

Then we will discuss how to make continuous progress.  With help of rules from 《Deliberate Practice, apart from specific goal, successful example and mentors,  Total FOCUS and Stepping out Comfort Zone are needed.  You must think that is just a common sense.  Yes, but no.  Simple, but not easy.

Meaning you have stay laser focus on your training every time.  No looking around, no phone, no talking, no thinking.  Meaning you have to push yourself in every set, every rep, harder & harder. Do the exercise you hate etc.  Challenge yourself with laser-focus, can lead you to the “FLOW/ ZONE” state.  In this state, you will experience stuff & time become blurry.  The concept of Time doesn’t exist.  No wondering at all.  Only you and your training.   The pain & soreness from training become a pleasure.  Keeping you to push forward.


There are some examples of the “Flow/Zone”:

  • Even if Facing the ball in a inch of his face, Kobe, in the Zone, a total focus state can suppress the human innate reaction (Blinking).  Not even a single blink.  Never flinched.  This state is the key to improve your training.


We, common guys, may not achieve the same level of focus as Kobe.  We can change the outer environment to facilitate the process. Like:

  • We can go to a less crowded GYM /less crowded session.
  • Don’t go with your friends & avoid gossips.
  • Put your phone aside to avoid distraction.

These little tricks can help you concentrate more on the training.  J.K. Rowling uses the same method to finish the 《Harry Potter》novel: Isolating herself in a hotel and totally focusing on writing.  No Distraction at all.


The way to break a plateaus.

Plateaus is inevitable in most cases.  Many think that you can break through it if you stay long enough.  Yes, it might be in some cases.

But it is not the best way.  《Deliberate Practice》proposes: Try Different Methods.  In Fitness case, I will describe as follows:

Find the LIMITING FACTOR, and then improve this area.  It is a bit like 80/20 rule.   You can make a lot of progress just can making a small effort in the right place.  But where is the limiting factor?  Let’s take a look.  For example, applying the same principle as Chemistry Equation Formula to Fitness.  Assume that Fitness Equation might look like:

Training + Nutrition + Hormone + Sleep + … = Gains

  • For those who never train, the limiting factor is training, training = 0, so the gains will be 0.
  • Once he starts to train a little bit, as he is newbie, any form of training will also be an effective training, so the Training = 1 (at least >0).  Then the result is guaranteed.  (>0)
  • If they just keep training harder and harder, for example, Training = 2, while other factors remain 0.5, the maximum gains can only be 0.5.


Once you understand this theory, you can consider plateaus as two scenarios:

  1. Each factor is more like the same, so you have to step up every aspects in order to make more progress.
  1. One (or a few) limiting factor is holding you back.  For instance,

1 Training + 0.6 Nutrition  + 1 Hormones + 0.3 Sleep + … = 0.3 Gains.

When you have found the limiting factor, i.e. Sleep in above case, you can make a huge difference just by improving sleep alone.  (0.3 Gains to 0.6 Gains)


Yes, But how to find it exactly in real life?  Since everyone is different in every aspects, and there are many variables under these factors.  Like

  • Training includes variables like: Exercises, Volume, Frequency, Rest Time …
  • Nutrition includes variables like Macros, Food type, Absorption …

As there are tons of variables, you not only have to have the related knowledge,  You have to know your body & yourself very well before you can analyse.  So trial & error is needed.   You can also get help from mentors.   The above is the “Try new methods” approach to help you break through a plateaus.



In order to be great in Fitness and avoid traps.  You should have a specific goal, successful example to follow, mentors guidance, stepping out Comfort Zone and Focus.  If you hit a plateaus, apart from the basic GRIT and persistent hard work, try to be more flexible and try new methods to find the limiting factor that are holding you back, and eventually break through these plateaus and achieve mastery.


Finally, I have summarised the video content into a infographic for you to download.

  • Download HD Image.  Click HERE.
  • Download The PDF.  Click HERE.




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