Over two years ago I knew a guy who was in the middle of a career transition. He was better than a respectable Masters Weightlifting competitor. Based on this career change he would have more time available. He decided for the first time in his lifting career to join a Weightlifting Club (team) and allow the coach of the club to direct his training. Starting in late October and through the early weeks of April he trained with the group five days per week. But instead of improving he actually realized a decline in performance. Additionally, injuries and overtraining signs reared their ugly head. Never known as a quitter, he continued to grind away on a program that was volume based, included four days of squatting and promoted a number of unfamiliar techniques. Sick of hurting all the time and dragging around a swollen knee he quit.
That guy was me. I was doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different outcome. One of the definitions of insanity. As you will learn I probably should have quit sooner.
At the beginning of a new training program enthusiasm is high along with adherence and typically improvements are rapid. This is especially true for the beginner or novice.
Depending on an individuals initial level of fitness (beginner, intermediate, expert) linear improvement duration varies. With intelligent programming, a beginner can see them extend significantly.
Soon the trainee arrives at a point in which improvements stall or plateau and this ladies and gentlemen is where people quit. For the beginner, perception is that the reward now is not worth the effort.
Queue the Vince Lombardi and Churchill speeches.
NEVER EVER, EVER, EVER QUIT
Maybe, maybe not.
Consideration all trainees need for themselves before quitting:
IS THE DECISION TO QUIT BEING MADE RATIONALLY? I have watched all kinds of irrational demonstrations in a gym. Anger, crying, shouting, throwing shit with language that would make a sailor blush and concluding with - "I QUIT". A few of these worthy are of an Oscar nomination. Most not. All are clearly in an irrational moment. Give it a few days and in a calm and rational moment examine what accomplishments (or not) have been made.
SOME CHANGES ARE ONLY OBSERVABLE BUT NOT MEASURABLE. Changes might not have had measurable changes. The bathroom scale may have not shown much but clothing is fitting better. One might be sleeping better and feel more energy throughout the day. These are subjective but still important.
IS THERE A DEEP COMMITMENT LEVEL? Many times the trainee just lack a TRUE level of commitment. The idea of a training program sounds good but the commitment level is lacking. That is totally acceptable. It is difficult to show up on February 12 at 6:00 am when there is slush on the ground and it is 10 degrees. It is much more comfortable to stay in bed. REAL gains are probably measured twelve months from the time programming begins. Lacking a deep commitment level and quitting is acceptable.
IS IT THE RIGHT PROGRAM OR THE CORRECT TRAINER? I do believe some athletes get sucked into the latest trend even though it is not the right method. I also believe, regrettably, that my profession is littered with ding dongs, charlatans that do not understand how to direct the troubled trainee. The wrong program or trainer could and should be a reason to quit.
If in a rational state, the trainee decides that they do not have any observable changes, lack true commitment, question the appropriateness of the program or trainer then it might be time to quit because mediocrity stinks!
I often joke that I would have a nice pot of money in some investment vehicle if I had retained all the clientele I have lost because they quit.
On the other hand, if in a rational moment and exploration an athlete can gather all their resources and double down on effort, commitment and focus on daily successes they can push through this dip towards success.
In the end, a dip is an inevitable part of the fitness process.