T Nation

Help with Lack of Progression


I've been working out for about 6 months, but have been following a full body workout 3 x per week for about 3 months. However, I've not really made huge gains, and I've certainly stalled if not started going backwards in the last couple of weeks... could anyone offer any advice?

Squats (3 sets of 12)
Stiff-legged deadlifts (3 x 12)
Military Press (3 x 12)
Bodyweight Chins (as many as I can x 3)
DB Bench Press (3 x 12)
DB lateral raises OR triceps iso OR biceps iso (3 x 12)

--> Try and reach failure at the last 2-3 reps of each final set.

I certainly feel the pump after the workout, but I'm not sure why I'm not progressing... think the suggested possibilities might include:
(a) lack of food?- I doubt it, as I eat 3000+ calories per day. (5 ft 11, 78 kg, 12.5% BF)
(b) training workout- maybe full bodies not giving me enough rest?

Anyone? If it's the routine, when would you recommend someone is ''ready'' to move onto a split or similar from FBs? What workout might you recommend?


someon is "ready" to move to a new routine when they are no longer progressing on the current one. this can be as simple as chaning a few exercises, or totally revamping the bodypart split (or lack there of).

eat a little more, as well.

as far as your next routine, time to start experimenting a little to see what kind of things work best for you, but keep in the big lifts. a main lift plus 1-2 other exercises may be a good place to start (example, flat bench every chest workout, then incline db's, a machine exercise, or flyes). when you start doing multiple exercises per bodypart, you'll see why full body workouts are generally not ideal for bodybuilding purposes.

start working you arms , not this "biceps OR triceps OR laterals" nonsense.

good luck in your efforts.


3,000 calories is not that much at your bodyweight. I have over the last 60 months gone from 70kg to 80kg without losing my visible abs.

The first 5-6 Kg was easy however it wasn't till I put my eating over 4,000 calories a day that I got past that first plateau.

Also, try mixing things up on the lifts. 12 weeks of working in more of a strength protocol with 3-5 reps for the big lifts might help you bust through.

Change up some of the excercises every 4-6 weeks. (different types of squats, different types of deads, inclines and declines on the bench etc)


IS THIS ENOUGH FREQUENCY TO MAKE GAINS? probably not, let's re-evaluate...

18 totals sets per workout is IMO better for gains in strength. From what I have gleaned from your post, your goal is size. 18 sets may not be enough.

ALSO: Remember you are working every bit of your body, without working every bit of your body all the way. You can argue that you include compounds, but still, youre not necessarily fatiguing them enough

I should say I did a very similar workout for a few weeks (not few months) and made gains, but i was doing 4 sets per lift, and discluding small isolation exercises (i.e. sub triceps iso for a close grip decline press, sub biceps iso for a row) therefore youre recruiting smaller muscles but still making the body do more work

My guess is too you may be lifting too light. Re-asses the amount of weight you are lifting.

PS 3 months of this routine may be enough and time to change, unless you cannot devote more than 3days/week to lift or you have a hectic schedule. in such cases, Total Body Training may be what you need

The pump is nice and all, but there is not a direct correlation between PUMP and SIZE. pump just makes you feel big

i actually tend to train, as i will say it, beyond the pump, so when i leave the gym I am no longer pumped
not sure if this is a common occurence

a. 3000 cals isnt enough for a 6ft bodybuilder who is sounding, by the weight of him, to be an ecto

b. you are getting plenty of rest. i think too much actually. workout more. do more sets.


3 days a week is just what I read I should be doing in TBT... I could happily dedicate 4 days a week but this would burnout the muscles according to CW.

And your advice of doing MORE sets etc per workout seem to be pretty much conflicting with my worries that I'm working the muscles too hard too often...


but you arent is what i am saying...those worries are unfounded

if you are getting sore after every workout it is because you havent trained your body to train yet

3days of 18sets is not proving to be gainworthy

what do you do the other four days you arent working out?

how much weight are you lifting??

3000 calories isnt enough either.

What do you want to grow? Everything?

if you want to keep doing TBT, i would say do 4-5 days a week if you have the time, increase total sets per workout (4-5 per exercise), and vary exercises.

if you can do a split thats great, but youll still need to increase sets per exercise and total sets. your intensity does not seem that high right now.


and please read my whole first post, not just the one part where i tell you to do more work.


seeing as how your progress has stopped, maybe you should stop worrying about shit like that.


If you are moving backwards, then you are either undereating, or undersleeping likely.


There are lots of people here to give you good advice. But for what it's worth here is mine.

Change your rep scheme. The 12 rep sets are to easy.

Do a set of 10reps, add weight and go for 8 reps, add weight and go for 6 reps, add weight and go for 4 reps.

This rep scheme gets you used to using a heavier weight. Pretty soon you can move your weight for 4 reps up to 6 reps,then 8, then 10.

It worked wonders for me (and others)in the past. And works for me now. It is also more fun then doing fixed sets of reps. You look forward to adding weight and challenging yourself.


i feel like our OP is really set on believing that he is working his muscles too hard and not resting and that is why he is going backwards/not progressing....at three days a week.

maybe he wants us to tell him to train even less...once a week and youll see the gains of your life!

we still need more info OP, what your lifts are at and have the weights progressed at all? Your history previous to lifting....your age...etc.


Anyone? If it's the routine, when would you recommend someone is ''ready'' to move onto a split or similar from FBs? What workout might you recommend?[/quote]

I missed this earlier.

IMO you are ready for a split whenever you decide to do a split routine.

Here is a sample split, again this is only my opinion. Much more info is needed from you before a tailored program can be suggested.




And Another



There are many more.

You really have to experiment to find out what your body responds to. So far you know that what you are doing don't work. So that's a start. And it is good that you are willing to try something else.

Stay on it

On a personal note a full body workout 3 times a week would be to much for me. But I am 42. I don't see how you can get enough rest and recovery between workouts. You should be getting at least 48 hours before hitting a muscle group again. And I don't think that is possible for you with only 7 days in a week.


suggesting that a muscle group need 48hrs of rest in between workouts is probably an uninformed and overly personalized statement. I think there are many people who would argue the opposite. there are situations where working something multiple times a week is productive

furthermore, for our OP, who only does a few sets per muscle group, that is certainly counterproductive reasoning. if he only does 3 sets of military presses, he could do them four times a week, certainly. same with small set ranges of any exercise at this level.

he needs to hear more, not less

for a split, he could workout 5 times a week and not overfatigue his body (at least for awhile. he hasnt been training long enough or hard enough to fatigue his CNS or his musculature)


Day 1: Back/Tris

Day 2: off

Day 3: Leggs

Day 4: Shoulders, Arms

Day 5: Off

Day 6:Chest/Bis

Day 7: Legs

Day 8: Off

Day 9: Back/Chest

Day 10: Off

Day 11: Legs

Day 12: Shoulders/ Arms

Day 13: Off

Day 14: Back/Chest

That is purely an example, but as you see, having a split allows you to fit in one muscle group more in a week if necessary to focus. First week legs and arms are emphasized, second week back and chest are emphasized, etc

Still, i wouldnt reccommend less than 20-30 sets with a split....still, with your TBT youre doing only 18 and 3 of those are iso.

For the TBT i think you need to add exercise variance and do 4-5 sets per exercise.


He does need to do more total sets per body part. But muscles need rest to recover fully. Working the same muscle HARD every day for 3 months is not what I would suggest.

But if it works for you I'm happy to hear it.


Do a split and EAT MORE.


To poetikal, as for more information about me, I'm 23 years old, about 12.5 stone and about 13% BF. The reason I'm concerned about overtraining was originally fairly private for a reason, but as you seem to be making a bit of a mocking point about it, here goes. I was 19 stone 6 years ago, and through cardio 6 x a week and a pretty much crash diet I cut down to 10 stone, and clinically anorexic in the process.

I still remember the way I'd feel every day back then, shattered and exhausted, but still I'd tell myself that taking a break meant taking my eye off the ball and that I'd lapse. So thus my mentality became that I'd just do anything I could as often as I could, and look where it got me. So now, I'm aware that the same rules obviously don't apply, infact opposites for muscle growth, and I'm just wary of going back to those ways.

As for my lifts, snigger away.

all for 12 reps x 3:
Deadlift 100kg + bar
Squat 55kg + bar
Military Press 25kg + bar.
Bench: 26kg dumbbell each side.
BOR: 26kg dumbbells each side.


If you're doing total body then it's saner to include only one big pushing or pulling or leg exercise per session. So that you have pull/push/legs. The other 2-3 can be curls, pushdowns, lateral raises, abs...

To progress increase the weight to what allows you to only do 6-8 repetitions per set and train with that. When you can do 9-10 reps on all sets, increase the weight again. Repeat...

As far as diet - eat mostly whole foods with a high protein content. Flesh, eggs and milk should make up 70% of your diet. Vegetables 20% and the rest is up to you.


I don't think you lifts are all that bad considering the reps and sets you are doing

You will not know if a split will help you progress in your lifts until you try it.


Rep range is what I was going to type last night but I fell asleep first.

There are different ways of going about changing rep ranges. The straightforward pyramid-up scheme suggested above is one of them. Alternatively, you can also get up to your high intensity / low rep set and pyramid back down.

Finally, you can bring in a bit of periodicity and focus on differing rep ranges on a weekly or bi-weekly basis or whatever. Warmup with lighter sets of course, but don't max out at the higher rep ranges; save your strength for your working sets.

From the weights that you are lifting - and no, I'm not snickering or anything - you should still stay focused on the basic lifts and improving your strength.

You can go to a 2 or even 3 day split if you really want to, but there is no reason to run to the "standard bodybuilding split". While 12 reps may be better suited to hypertrophy on average than say, 5 rep sets, realize that once you double or triple what you lift for 5 reps, you will be far stronger, bigger, and capable of greater gains.


that was surely brave of you to be forthright with that information. it surely is a smart reason to not overtrain. anywho....

a few posts ago someone mentioned training every day. i dont advocate that all the time, but i do believe that increasing your frequency can be beneficial for a training cycle

as far as doing TBT, i was more concerned with the total sets, and someone made a valid point when they said include only one huge lift (squat/dead) in a session so as to allow you to increase sets on all lifts. you dont want to fatigue yourself too early.

i understand where youre coming from with your fear of overtraining. i feel like it may be more beneficial to counsel you in PM form, so hit me up in a message.

your lifts arent abysmal, so dont be so hard on yourself

in summary, it may be time to start a split cycle considering youve been doing TBT for so long. do that. lets develop one together that fits your schedule

PS and a big one.....cardio 6x a week would fatigue me more than bodybuilding style training 6x a week (NOT THAT YOU NEED TO BE DOING THAT) just saying, dont expect different training modalities to affect you the same