T Nation

Hit a Plateau. Where to Go Next?

So I’ve been powerlifting for roughly 2 years. Had periods where I went really hard and periods where I didnt lift for 2 months or so. I’m on a 6 week program right now, Canditos 6 week. Only program I’ve ever completed. At the end my squat max went from 315-350, deadlift from 405->450 and Bench from like 185->205. This let me break the 1,000 pound club which I was extremely happy with at the time.

My question is where to go next. At the moment I still feel like I am more or less stuck where I’m at and the weight isn’t as easy to control as it should be. I have a couple things I have yet to try…
Belts or Knee Wraps
In person or online coaching
Different Programs

I’m on the same 6 week program I broke 1,000 pounds with and its going well so far but looking to go way way further. Just looking for some input on what would make the biggest increase, what wouldn’t, programs that helped people in about the same range I was, etc… Thanks!

Try Candito’s linear program. It’s nothing fancy, but it works. It will keep you on track to make incremental progress.

1 Like

Stop doing this…

LOL Really at your current level all you need to do is keep grinding. Put in volume, put in heavy sets here and there when you feel good. But most importantly just keep lifting.

I really like Candito’s programs. One of the first to not completely neglect all Pulling movements. Any program that has you working in the 70-90% range 2+ times a week on the big 3 and matching Rows/Pullups to pressing is a good program.

1 Like

Buy a belt and keep running the same program until progress stalls.

Can you elaborate on that? Why just a belt? Does lifting without a belt have limitations once you reach a certain point?

Because you can squat and deadlift more with a belt once you learn to use it properly.

I actually think this is an argument against it for as long as you can but I am not dead set either way.


My first belt was a 10mm (cheap one to try it etc) then I graduated to a 13mm (pioneer) a year(s?) later. 10mm gave a boost and then the 13mm gave another smaller boost.

I kind of recommend that route if you are getting a belt. A 13mm belt is kind of bulky especially for Deads. You could also go the first belt is the last belt you will ever buy route and IMO thats the SBD lever belt or a Pioneer Belt.

1 Like

You can do beltless work too if you find there is a benefit to it, but the whole point of powerlifitng is to lift as much as possible so if you aren’t wearing a belt you are selling yourself short. Also, it can take a while to learn how to use it properly.

The exception is on deadlifts, there are a few guys out there (Belkin for one) who don’t pull with a belt. I just recently started pulling conventional again and I feel like the belt actually makes it feel more awkward but on sumo it helps.


I’m not new to lifting, but I have never been long term consistent for various reasons. So, I am in a similar position to you (plateau), and my lifts are on average slightly less. But, I might still have some valuable input. First off, and anybody please correct me if I am wrong, hitting plateaus is normal, but trying to take extreme measures to break through them is a bad idea. It’s something I have done and it usually results in some form of injury or over trained state, in effect slowing me down. Kick ass in the weight room, but be patient with results. It’s my biggest problem. I want bigger numbers now. As many have said before, and I strive to embrace, building strength takes time. Stick to a program and give it time.


Always the starting point.
Its a slow old process this. I used to add 15kg to my squat a month. These days i’m lucky to add 5kg a month. Which sucks as I work harder now then ever. And I want big numbers now.

2 tips:

Reassess your nutrition and recovery. Give it time.

All programmes work (well most do and I’m told candito does). If you are stuck its 99% likely due to not eating enough OR the fact progress is not liner. So you’ll make great gains for a few weeks then stall then more great gains. So on and so on.

Absolutely. Otherwise, we’d all be able to add 5 pounds a week and to our lifts forever and be hitting well over a thousand pounds in all our lifts! To get off plateaus, you need to introduce a new stimulus. For instance, if you’ve been mostly back squatting, add in some front squats and lunges, or add dumbbell work for your upper body if you’ve just been flat barbell benching. Also change the rep ranges; if you’ve been training mostly 5 or fewer reps, try the 8-12 range. Of course, after some time (a few weeks or months), you’ll plateau on these as well, and you can then switch back to what you’ve been doing and find that it once again works. All the while, keep striving to do better each time, no matter how small the gain is. Progress comes from small but consistent gains over years. Even if you put only 25 pounds a year on your bench, you’re still doing better than 90% of lifters out there. Good luck!

1 Like

One more thing: Some people try to get around plateaus by “resetting,” which simply involves reducing the current working weight around 5% or so and working your way back up and hopefully blasting through the plateau. Personally, I’ve never found this tactic to be effective; for me, it just prolongs the stagnation. But I know that some people believe it to be effective.

1 Like

If still cant bench 2 plates prob best take a step back and build up your body especially upper for couple months then get back to trad powerlifting cycle. Either of these will help…

I’ve been stuck at the same weight for several months despite frequent heavy lifting. Could be I need to eat more and that could be why I have hit something of a plateau. I look at the numbers other lifters of my size put up and I think I should be able to gain plenty of strength without needing more weight, but I am pretty lean and my muscles are conditioned to sub maximal, but all day sort of work. I was steady at 173 eating 3000 cal a day, 3500 didn’t make a differance, so I have moved up to 3800 - 4000 a day. I’ll see what happens.

I’ve been realizing just how much accessory work I half ass or skip. I will check those links out. I’ve never really done any machine work and am pretty prone to skipping accessories especially upper body. I have a bad right shoulder so the amount of reps/volume I can do on bench is pretty low. I’m trying to find upper body exercises that dont aggravate my shoulder.

This is a pre existing condition. Had it since I was 18-20, I think it was from swimming. I only feel it when I up the volume, weight itself doesnt seem to matter. Even military press with the bar for 10+ rep sets starts aggravating my right shoulder. Running for over 25 minutes or so will start hurting my shoulder it just sucks because I want a strong bench. Might be time to just go to a chiropractor or something. The pain hasn’t really gotten worse since I started powerlifting but I do tend to stop or slow down my workouts once I can feel the shoulder pain set in.

I think the plateau on the other two lifts are just from inconsistent training as they feel very strong and I feel like I can definitely up the weight on them so I will just keep trying to complete the program and see what happens while trying more varied accessories for bench.

I started powerlifting roughly 2 1/2 years ago. I Do the 5/3/1 method. I hit 625 squat, 405 bench and 575 deadlift but damn COVID ruined my progress. Sometimes I feel like I hit that plateau as well but working on form, doing accessories and changing up the routine here and there has helped keep me progressing.

I use a crane belt and knee wraps when going heavy in 3’s and 1’s never 5’s. My trainer is Larry Pacifico so he’s been a great help. But I always look for advice and try to learn.

I’d say keep grinding you’ll have periods you do t progress it happens. You’ll bounce back though.

1 Like

Try doing external rotation exercises for your shoulder. All you need is a band, or you can use a dumbell or cable. Go very light and do high reps. Also band pull aparts are good. My left shoulder used to be real messed up, I dislocated it several times when I was younger and now it’s fine and I’m benching over 400.

I can’t guarantee that this will fix your shoulder, but it certainly won’t hurt.

Thats too little of a percent I think. Resets I think do better in the higher end of 10-20.

I mean it depends on the program etc.

As long as we are posting Programs I really like this one:

“Natty Taper” (if you are familiar with 5th set this will sound very familiar)
So pick anything from 1-5 working sets
Pick a rep range.
AMRAP your last working set
If you get 3 extra reps or more without going to RPE 11 or trashing your form then add weight and repeat same reps and sets.
If you get less than 3 extra reps then lower working reps by 1 and add weight.
Stop the block whenever. I usually run it for 5s to 3s then script a taper into a 1RM test (currently for Bench). I have also ran it as a 1 set AMRAP (currently and usually for deads). I have friends who have ran it for 10s to 5s for more hypertrophy goals.

Adding weight can be anything from 1-5% depending on how long term you want to run a block.

A Block would look like this for starting at 3 Sets, 5 reps and 100kgs.

5-5-10 at 100
5-5-9 at 102.5
5-5-6 at 105
4-4-8 at 107.5
4-4-6 at 110
3-3-9 at 102.5
etc etc

to reset decide what reps you want to start with and go back 10% or so lower than your best workout at those reps.

The more I look this up the more it sounds like I have a rotator cuff injury/shoulder impingement. I went to a chiropractor in my early 20s but I’ve sort of just lived with it since then. Makes sense for swimming to have caused it since its from overuse of reaching overhead.

Gonna try band pull aparts and external rotation with a dumb bell

You can do the external rotation stuff with a band too, that’s the best way to do it.