Progress Isn't Linear
One of the awesome things about our gym is that we get so many people brand new to fitness and, more specifically, brand new to the barbell. The first few months are awesome. Every time they show up and touch the bar, they add weight. The last set of 5 they did feels easy and now they can do that for 7 or 10. And this can go on for a while...
But then it happens. They come in and can only do what they did last time. Or, even more shockingly, they can't even do what they did last time and do less weight this time. This can be tough on the new lifter mentally. "Am I getting worse?" "Did I do something wrong?" "I knew I wasn't going to be any good at this." And many other things can swim around in their head causing them to doubt their future progress and, more importantly, themselves.
Good news! This is how it works for everyone. All of us, at some point, hit a plateau. You won't add 5# to your Back Squat every time you do it for the rest of your life (or else so many people would squat 700#). The important part is staying consistent. Keep coming. Keep bringing it! Because when you zoom out and look at your performance, you'll see how much progress you've made over a year or 5 or 25.
Here's two real life examples. If you zoomed in and only looked at a few weeks or even months, you might see a downward trend. You will see multiple sessions in a row where it looks like your progress is stagnant or declining. But if you keep showing up, putting in effort, taking care of yourself (sleeping,, eating well, and minimizing your life stress), when you zoom back out you'll see what looks like steady progress.
Graphs really help illustrate the point. Sometimes I'll get all mopey about not making progress. And then I will look back at 2014 and 2015. And my numbers are MUCH better. It reminds me that I was stoked the day I did 225# for a Back Squat and I have done more than that for 20 reps now. I remember being super impressed that people could Deadlift "4 plates" (405#). That didn't seem possible when I started. Now, that isn't an issue.
Progress feels slow. But it is steady if you are steady. Show up. Give what you have to give that day. Take care of yourself. And you'll look back and realize you aren't the person you were 2 years ago. Day by day. #everydaybetter