1

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How can I break my lifting plateaus?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created July 25, 2012 at 8:44 AM

Hey everyone- I have been stuck just shy of 5x5 at 185 lbs on bench and 5x5 at 225lbs on back squat for about a month now. Any recommendations on how I can break these?

81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on July 27, 2012
at 12:09 AM

Gaining muscle is all about recovery. Recovery is all about nutrition and rest. If you don't do both, you won't see results. So sleep! 2500-3000 kcal is a good start...eat more. Shoot for 3500-4000 Kcal. Strength programs are designed to get you strong, not beach ready. Add muscle, lose excess when you cut. You have to meet your daily requirement (including workout) AND give your body enough to add lean mass (including denser bones, tendons, ligaments, on and on). This can be from a minimum of 500 to 1500 excess calories. Different for everyone.

C1c86f42410cd4788bd9c5cf801dcd8f

(2246)

on July 26, 2012
at 12:25 AM

Body weight? You need to fix your sleep. Period you can eat until the cows come home and eat them as well. However if you are taking drugs to sleep you are really not getting a restful sleep and you are not recovering. I believe you have found the source of your problem. Now you need to find the cause. There are a lot of books out there, "Lights out, Sleep Sugar and survival" comes to mind, as well as sleep clinics, talk to your doctor. Tell him/her you don't want drugs to sleep and look for alternatives.

E7565a4b49a6baa5849bfb97203d4ef6

(1)

on July 25, 2012
at 07:56 PM

I recently began eating a LOT more, and I have seen immediate improvements in muscle density, vascularity, and mass. However, recovery is often tough for me, because I suffer from extreme insomnia to the point that I have to take prescriptions every night to get to sleep. I have cut out all stimulants as well. I am 21, and I eat roughly 2500-3000 kcal a day

81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on July 25, 2012
at 04:18 PM

I guess I have to put my stats up if I am going to call people out for it. 5'8" 165 pounds - 5RM: 360, 385, 265, 185, 185 (Squat, DL, Bench, Press, PC). @Raisefitness - you are recommending that he goes to a volume/intensity split per week (Texas Method, Madcows, other intermediate programs). I will run Texas Method myself after my latest SS deload. I don't think he is near the level where simple linear progression should have stopped.

C45d7e96acd83d3a6f58193dbc140e86

on July 25, 2012
at 03:42 PM

For reference, I am 144, and can do 8, 6, 4, 2 at 225, 245, 265, 285, with a 1RM of 305

C45d7e96acd83d3a6f58193dbc140e86

on July 25, 2012
at 03:42 PM

As far as bench, I can give you some good advice. I can't do heavy squat, because I have had hip surgery from a degenerative disease as a child. First, mix up your routine. The body is highly adaptable. 5x5 works for a while, but once you stall, change. Never do heavy bench more than once every 4-6 days. Do a set of 15, 12, 10, 8 on one day and an 8, 6, 4, 2 on the next workout. Also, if you have access to do incline press, that will help your upper pectorial major, and your pectorial minor. Also, decline press will help the lower pecs.

81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on July 25, 2012
at 02:19 PM

I agree with Ben61820 this sentiment. A different forum is definitely a better place for this question. Many people on Paleohacks will offer fitness advice contrary to your goals (getting really strong). They will offer advice on getting lean, or strong 'enough', or whatever...but not about putting up 2-3X BW 1RM and 5RM. Everyone who recommends high reps with low weights should immediately post their 1RM for the major lifts. If you are not strong, do not give work out advice to those that are trying to get strong! Okay...rant over. :)

81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on July 25, 2012
at 01:56 PM

I don't disgree...I purchased micro weights and adjusted my 'jumps' to 10 pounds in a week versus 15. But that kicked in once my 5RM got to 340 on my squat. He should not be having this problem with a 225 squat (considering everything is normal).

81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on July 25, 2012
at 01:53 PM

If you went to the Starting Strength forum and asked Rip the question himself (as many do), he would immediately say, 'Your not doing the program'. You are stalling WAY too early for simple linear progression to be over (your squat and DL should be over 300+ and bench 225+ with a BW OHP). You have to eat enough and sleep enough. Strength programs are not designed to get you cut/lean but strong. So crank up that protein and get a serious calorie surplus going.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 25, 2012
at 12:21 PM

You're on the wrong boards to seriously address this issue. There is no set answer. The lifters of the world have been trying to figure this out for a long, long time. One answer that worked for me was switching from the 5x5 (I was doing Ripp's starting strength but it is a similar fast quite linear progression), to Wendler's 531. 531 is indeed also linear but it is much slower and dragged out. Slow and steady seems to be the key to avoiding plateaus and staying healthy. Here is a helpful link but you can also just do the standard Wendler approach: http://www.jimwendler.com/2011/09/531-for-a-b

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 25, 2012
at 12:20 PM

You're on the wrong boards to seriously address this issue. There is no set answer. The lifters of the world have been trying to figure this out for a long, long time. One answer that worked for me was switching from the 5x5 (I was doing Ripp's starting strength but it is a similar fast quite linear progression), to Wendler's 531. 531 is indeed also linear but it is much slower and dragged out. Slow and steady seems to be the key to avoiding plateaus and staying healthy.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 25, 2012
at 12:18 PM

Good point on the food. Many lifting stalls, especially early in the person's experience like this sounds, is due to under-eating.

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5 Answers

2
C1c86f42410cd4788bd9c5cf801dcd8f

(2246)

on July 25, 2012
at 09:57 AM

How much are you eating?

Track you food, you may not be eating enough, or you may not be sleeping enough.

How old are you, what is your body weight?

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 25, 2012
at 12:18 PM

Good point on the food. Many lifting stalls, especially early in the person's experience like this sounds, is due to under-eating.

81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on July 25, 2012
at 01:53 PM

If you went to the Starting Strength forum and asked Rip the question himself (as many do), he would immediately say, 'Your not doing the program'. You are stalling WAY too early for simple linear progression to be over (your squat and DL should be over 300+ and bench 225+ with a BW OHP). You have to eat enough and sleep enough. Strength programs are not designed to get you cut/lean but strong. So crank up that protein and get a serious calorie surplus going.

81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on July 27, 2012
at 12:09 AM

Gaining muscle is all about recovery. Recovery is all about nutrition and rest. If you don't do both, you won't see results. So sleep! 2500-3000 kcal is a good start...eat more. Shoot for 3500-4000 Kcal. Strength programs are designed to get you strong, not beach ready. Add muscle, lose excess when you cut. You have to meet your daily requirement (including workout) AND give your body enough to add lean mass (including denser bones, tendons, ligaments, on and on). This can be from a minimum of 500 to 1500 excess calories. Different for everyone.

E7565a4b49a6baa5849bfb97203d4ef6

(1)

on July 25, 2012
at 07:56 PM

I recently began eating a LOT more, and I have seen immediate improvements in muscle density, vascularity, and mass. However, recovery is often tough for me, because I suffer from extreme insomnia to the point that I have to take prescriptions every night to get to sleep. I have cut out all stimulants as well. I am 21, and I eat roughly 2500-3000 kcal a day

C1c86f42410cd4788bd9c5cf801dcd8f

(2246)

on July 26, 2012
at 12:25 AM

Body weight? You need to fix your sleep. Period you can eat until the cows come home and eat them as well. However if you are taking drugs to sleep you are really not getting a restful sleep and you are not recovering. I believe you have found the source of your problem. Now you need to find the cause. There are a lot of books out there, "Lights out, Sleep Sugar and survival" comes to mind, as well as sleep clinics, talk to your doctor. Tell him/her you don't want drugs to sleep and look for alternatives.

0
E6c14efded576a0bea38a2fe2beced6a

on July 25, 2012
at 12:16 PM

In order to fix this you need to better define the problem.

How is it that you fail? If you add 5 pounds and attempt a 5X5 do you only get 3 reps on the last set or you can't even complete the first one. Also how does it happen. You get stuck in the bottom of the squat, you can't lock it out, or you lower back goes and you fall forward.

For most people when trying to improve a lift you need to look at what is breaking down and work that area. The old a chain is only as strong idea. Try and figure out what fails first, then you can come up with a plan to address the deficiencies.

0
96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on July 25, 2012
at 10:21 AM

Try going low. Do the same exercise with lots of reps very often at low weights. I find that if I work out only 1x-2x a week, I don't gain as much muscle and get stuck at certain levels, but if I also introduce an almost daily workout for say a week, with the same exercise at high rep/low weight, I can burn through the plateau later on, say after a week of not doing this, and resting.

0
D11d9bff21614e9347bc58a210adc8bf

on July 25, 2012
at 09:11 AM

Hey! What you need to do is to start thinking small.

Possibly you are stuck simply because the only next available disc you have to add on is 2.5 kgs. That's 5kg increase!

If you're at your max then of course you can't lift that! It's too much weight and volume!

Here's what you can do.

If you have access to smaller weights, add them on to the bar. You can do this by having them made at an ironmonger like I did (discs of 125g, 250g, 500g, 1kg) and securing them with halters.

If not, you'll have to do less reps and go up in weight.

Do however many reps you can at the next smallest possible weight up (if you can't do the full 5). Count even half reps. It may be that for a week or two you only go up in half reps.

Eventually you'll be able to crank out 5.

81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on July 25, 2012
at 01:56 PM

I don't disgree...I purchased micro weights and adjusted my 'jumps' to 10 pounds in a week versus 15. But that kicked in once my 5RM got to 340 on my squat. He should not be having this problem with a 225 squat (considering everything is normal).

0
Ee2c03bbe9c17e4b2e4a0f99457e279a

(120)

on July 25, 2012
at 08:57 AM

Make sure your resting enough and your diet is good. Training wise experiment with more tricep work like weighted dips, drop the weight a little and try again at 3 x 5 reps.

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