Stop saying you're in a maintenance phase. It only leads to slow regression. Here's why and how to fix it.
According to various surveys, the average adult male can do one pull-up. He can bench press 160 pounds once. He weighs 175 pounds and is on the chubby side. His flexed biceps measurement is 13 inches. After the age of 30, his body weight continues to go up and his lean body mass goes down. His athletic prowess begins to decline at age 31.
In short, average kinda sucks. Today's average is, in fact, below average.
Average Is Not a Goal
Many begin their fitness and strength training journey as below average. For various reasons, they're weaker than the normal person, fatter than the normal person, or punier than the average person. Ask any fat guy and he'll tell you being "not fat" is a primary goal. That's understandable.
But being average, especially today's version of it, is not a very lofty goal. That bar is set very low. Average shouldn't be the finish line – it should be the starting line. Your goal is probably not to achieve a state of average. But sometimes, average sneaks up on us.
Maintenance Phase is BS
"I'm just going to maintain for a while" is a phrase we often hear. Much like being "almost pregnant" and "a little gay," maintenance mode is a nonsensical phrase describing a condition that does not exist. There is no maintenance phase; there is only progression and regression. You're either moving forward or you're moving backward. "Maintenance" is a cute way of describing slow, almost unnoticeable regression.
"Not true," the average man says, "I've been at a place where my weight was about the same, my strength was about the same, and I looked about the same!"
But is this really true? Maybe you continued to train but let your diet slip. Or maybe you slacked on training but kept your diet in check. Both can lead to a state of perceived stagnation. Your body teeters between making progress and losing ground. But the tipping point is always the same: a slow motion step backward.
The body is perfectly happy being average and will quickly return to that set point, even with moderate attention to diet and training. Look around your gym. Do you see people making tons of progress or is everyone pretty much barely holding on to the progress they've made? Who wants to spend hours every week at the gym just to look mediocre and perform "okay?"
Now, what if this IS incorrect? Maybe there really is a state of stasis. What if you can stay right where you are without regressing or progressing? Then "there is no maintenance phase" is still a good mindset to adopt because it keeps you on track and, ultimately, it works.
A State of Half-Assery
Assuming that you can "maintain" will subconsciously lead to half-assery. And half-assed training and half-assed nutrition only slows degeneration. Half-assed good nutrition doesn't halt fat gain as we age, it just slows down the rate of accumulation.
Sure, sometimes we all have to be in "maintenance phase" when life throws us a curve ball. Just keep it as short as possible and never do it on purpose. Spend too long in maintenance phase and you become average. Spend too long in average and you become "average American average" – formerly known as fat and weak.
Screw average. Strive for more.