Ceilings cover our homes to protect us from the outside, to hold in warmth, to establish privacy. Sounds great. Ceilings also present a limitation as we can’t go up any further. In our everyday lives, limitation ceilings present themselves in many ways. The potential income that is accessible to us through our current job may have a ceiling. The potential to be promoted to a more prestigious role within a current company may have a ceiling. Current knowledge levels may impose a ceiling on us. Today we’re gonna dive into that second piece.
Often times, we hit ceilings and get frustrated. We feel as if we’re being held back. As if we could achieve better results or deserve something better but there is some outside source preventing us from doing so. Don’t get stuck in this “pass the buck” mindset. Often times when we hit ceilings or see it coming, it is an opportunity. An opportunity for growth, change or maybe both. But, if we don’t see it as that, we will let the ceiling hold us down. And we will spend days, weeks, months, even years, beating our head on the ceiling.
In the gym there are ceilings everywhere and in turn opportunities for growth, change or both. We work hard each week, seeking results in body composition, strength, and capacity. Sometimes we achieve the result we are looking for. Often we do not. When you aren’t achieving the result you seek, take a stepback, look at the entire picture. If you’re honest with yourself I think you’ll find that you’ve hit a ceiling. Not one imposed on you by someone else, but one imposed on you by yourself.
Here are a few ceilings that I see people hit in the gym, and yes I’ve hit each one of these myself a time or two.
- The nutrition ceiling. We spoke about it last week in regards to the “pyramid” of fitness. Proper nutrition is foundational to exercise, increasing work capacity, and physical results. If you do not currently have the body that you truly want and have been “trying” for a long time, you may be under this ceiling. If you don’t have the energy levels you seek for life or for metcons, your current dietary habits may be limiting you from making further progress. You can stay here, the same, and be unsatisfied. Or, you can opt to change, get guidance, make a new plan, stick to it, and move out from under the ceiling. And don’t be fooled, there isn’t an 80/20 or 90/10 rule to your eating when you have a lofty goal to achieve. In fact, plenty of times I see that 20 or 10 side wipe out or compound all of the hardwork from the 80 or 90 side.
- The technique ceiling. This is an important one. Although everyone’s body is unique, there are still optimal ways in which it should move to maximize force application on external objects, itself, and safety. We work technique prior to lifting and metcons but it is your responsibility to care enough to maintain that when the environmental intensity gets high, strength sessions and metcons. Too often I see weight increases go up too quickly or technique go out the window with the mindset of speed or testing 1RM. And while yes, we want to add speed/load in the long run, the order of things must always be quality, consistency, then intensity. If you find yourself in a task accomplishment mindset and are throwing technique out the window in place of rep accumulation, then not only are you exposing yourself to inevitable/recurring injury, you are also placing a ceiling on yourself. Technique flaws do not optimize how much you can lift. However, many choose to go with their faulty technique for the reason that making a change often makes you feel weaker at first and maybe for awhile. Are you willing to take a stepback, then a couple to the side, in order to take many forward later? Are you patient enough to stick it out?
- The mindset ceiling. This is a huge self-imposed ceiling. Do you hold yourself back mentally? How do you speak to yourself when things get tough? If you aren’t building yourself up then you’re likely keeping yourself down from something greater. Do you talk yourself into a lift or out of it? Do you shy away from trying something out of fear of failure? The way we treat ourselves internally and externally, the way we choose to prepare, the way we treat others, these items make up our mindset. Our mindset can be of growth, preservation, or of decline. If you feel stuck in your results or are getting worse, you may be under a mindset ceiling. If you find yourself here, you can get out from under it. If it’s fear, trust your coach when they tell you you’re strong enough and your technique is good enough to push harder. If you’re down on yourself mentally, surround yourself with more positivity, be nicer to yourself, reflect on what’s important to you.
There are many other self-imposed ceilings not mentioned. Imbalances, shortcuts, know-it-all attitudes. If you can think of one I’d love for you to tell me about it at the gym. I want to know your thoughts, where you need help, where I need help. Ceilings are all around us and over us. They can make us feel safe and protected, but usually they’re just holding us back from something greater. If you see the ceiling coming or are under one currently, ask yourself, “Am I fine staying here? Do I want something more?” If you’re satisfied with where you are at, then it is perfectly okay to stay put. Go with what you’re currently doing because it has put you in a place that offers you peace with yourself and matches your goal and your daily schedule. If you want something more for yourself and feel stuck, you’ve found an opportunity for change. Make a plan, accept the fact that you will feel weaker and vulnerable for a little while, and trust that the process will equal greater growth in the long run. This idea doesn’t just apply in the gym, it applies to all things life. Get out there, try something new, stick with what you love, and own it, your choices and your results.