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Reaching the Peak: Advice from Our Authors, part II

April 9, 2010

Many martial artists have faced plateaus in their training and/or fitness goals at some point or another, so we asked a few of our expert authors for their perspectives on the subject. What causes training plateaus, and what can practitioners do to move forward, and even avoid them in the future? Each week in April, one of our authors will offer insights and advice to help readers not only push through plateaus, but recognize what can be learned from the experience.

Blue Snake Books Author Allen Pittman

Allen Pittman, author of Walking the I Ching: The Linear Ba Gua of Gao Yi Sheng offers this advice:

1. Generally the breaking of a plateau requires additional energy and inspiration. So a person cannot do it without breaking the rhythm of their training regime. If you are training regularly week after week and hit a plateau try resting for three days/72 hours and then on the fourth day go to the exercise you are going to surpass. Generally you will need to drink and eat and rest more than usual during that 72 hour period. You want to come to your “record- breaking routine” fully prepared! Once you break your record or previous performance see if you can swing it back into the previous routine. There may be a “dip” in performance of other activities due to nuerological/psychological adjustment but it should “fit” in about a week.

2.Specific to making improvement in the arms return to squatting type -quad oriented movements /exercises for a week or so. Then go back and see if you cannot get that improvement in the arms. There seems to be a triggering reflex of growth from the legs to the arms.

3. Specific to improvement to the legs- increase sleep and hydration. The legs are particularly demanding since they are 40-60 percent of the blood circulation. If we walk a lot on the job or in a work- out the legs
often do not get the amount of rest they need between work outs…this is a little deceptive as we tend to forget just how much walking we have done – if we already do a lot of movement work-we are using our legs considerably but only with body weight. But it can prevent that break through by keeping you a little more tired. Thai massage work on the legs really helps them rest and revive.

4. Vitamin wise try adding B150 each day. This will help the nervous system process additional stress produced through your “record breaking” activities!

5. Check for aches and pains which your ambition may be blocking! Uneasy sleep is usually the tip off. If your body is unhappy it will not want to do more difficult things! You may simply need more rest, water or food.

6. If you are naturally disciplined and “wired up-tight as a violin” and get “stale” take three days off and be sure to play and not “try” so hard. Just go have fun. Be sure your mind and emotions feel free. If you are very serious about your training you may be your own worse enemy! Imagine saying to yourself when you walk out the door “Don’t forget to have fun!” Then after your mind and emotions really get away from the usual routine – try a return to your challenge.

7. If you are naturally lazy like a big fat cat then try to inspire yourself by reading about the accomplishments of others in the task you are attempting. Get inspired. See if you can arouse yourself out of your complacency. Set up a reward system for yourself.

8. My main formula——– Rest+ Inspiration=Re-creation/Creativity/Power——-rest is as important as activity and as much mental as physical.

Good luck with your training and have fun!


Want more? See what The Gift of Danger: Lessons from Aikido author Mary Stein had to say about pushing through plateaus here.

As a combination philosophical treatise, health manual, and self-defense text on Ba Gua, Allen Pittman’s book Walking the I Ching details the history, philosophy, and techniques of straight-line ba gua zhang, which means “eight trigram palm” in reference to the seminal trigrams of the I Ching. Divided into eight parts corresponding to the eight sections of the I Ching, this book describes the symbology, cultural, anatomical, and tactical details of each set along with step-by-step drawings and photograph, helping students to cultivate their sense of centeredness while incorporating what they learn into their everyday lives.

How do you push through plateaus? Share your personal experiences in our comments section of this post, and you could win a set of free books from Blue Snake Books!

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