T Nation

How Can I Break my Plateau?


#1

Hello I’m 18, I started training about a year ago and got some great help from people on the forum like @RampantBadger who gave me a good solid programme to start
It was this: https://www.t-nation.com/training/10-secrets-to-building-mass
at the start of my programme I was 120lbs @5ft 6" and could barely press 110lbs, After this programme I gained 17lbs and could press 155lbs so the same as my body weight, This all happened in 3 months so this was a very quick change, I went onto Blending Size and Strength 2.0 and gained about 18lbs and my squat went to 220lbs, ever since that 3 month period though I’ve not made any gains and I feel like I got weaker as I could bench 165lbs but a couple of failed attempts and people having to help me made me quit trying to do it in a linear training method… I’ve contacted Dan John on Facebook and asked "Should I focus on my work capacity?"
his response was: "I always think you should rotate back and forth, so yes, I think you are right."
so I think I’m going to do that but the main part of this question is:

When working on my work capacity should I go all out to the highest volume (amount of weight) I can go or should I slack and have a weight where I can do a little more over lets say 10-15 reps with because the analogy I was taught was “you have say 6 bars of Volume and 6 bars of Recovery, take 3 bars of Volume and give it to recovery” so I was just curios on weather I should be going as hard as possible on it?

P.S. Sorry for the long question I’m just trying to be as detailed as possible so I can get a correct answer,
Also I’m going to post a reply as to what reps/weight/sets I’ve been currently doing on this programme:


I just did week 3 today and I think I’m starting to increase my embarrassing PR’s which would make sense because it’s higher reps for week.


#2

(When I say 1plate it means 5kg at least I think it means that)

Week 1
(DID NOT RECORD D.LIFT)
Dip +10kgx10
P. Curl 12.5kgx10
Incl. D. Curl 10kgx10
Cable Pressdown 7Platesx25

Close Grip Bench 8x55kg,50kg,45kg,40kg
Bent Over B.bell Row 8x20kg,17.5kg,15kg
Popping Push up 8x3
Perfect Curl 20kgx8
Ovr H. Kneeling Tri Extensions 9platex10
Hammer Curls 10kgx25

Chin up 10x4 15 second rest
Floor Press 10x60kg,55kg,50kg
Seated D. Handle Cable Curl 10x4 plate
Zott.m. D. Curl 10x10kg

Back Squat 10x80kg, 75kg, 70kg, 65kg
D OHP Seated 10x17.5kg, 15kg, 15kg
D. Rom. D Lift 10x22.5kg, 20kg, 17.5kg
D Bell Lunges 10x15kg

Week 2
D.lift (last rep slow negative) 90kgx6 dropping to 85kg then 80kg x4 sets
Dips (last rep slow negative) +12.5kgx6 x4 sets
Preacher Curl (last rep slow negative) 12.5kgx6 x4sets
Decline Tricep Extension 12.5kgx8 x4sets

Narrow Grip Bench (last rep slow negative) 65kgx6 x4sets
Barbell Row (last rep slow negative) 65kgx6 x4sets
Popping Push ups (last rep slow negative) 6 x4sets
Perfect Curl 25kgx8
Kneeling Overhead Tricep Extension 10platex6 x4sets
Hammer Curls 12.5kgx25

Chin up +10kgx6 x5sets
Floor Press 70kgx6 x4sets
Seated D. Handle Cable Curl 6platex6 x4sets
Zott.m. D. Curl 15kgx6 x4sets
French Press 20kgx6 x4sets

Week 3 (Presently)
Deadlift 10x80kg x4sets (Rest-Pause)
Dips 12.5kgx10 x1 set (DNF Need a chain, hard to do with feet) ^ 2.5kg
P. Curl 1st set 15kgx7 drop 12.5kg x5 to finish the set 12.5kgx10 x3 sets ^ 2.5kg for 7
Decline Triceps Extension 15kgx10 x 3sets
Incl. D. Bell Curl 12.5kgx10 x3sets ^ 2.5kg
Cable rope press down 8platex30reps ^ 5kg+5reps


#3

Ok 5/3/1 time. Start off with triumvirate.

Can add 15 mins arms/beach work not to failure, on one of bench or pressing day other than that do exactly as written for at least first 2-3 cycles:

Set it up right and start light and should have continual progress/no plateaus for 6 months minimum

For Deadlift cap your top set at 6 reps


#4

Ok, but will this help my work capacity because I think that’s what I’m lacking here


#5

Nope work capacity is not the issue. You just still have beginner strength levels like sub 2 plate bench and its time for you to hit up a proper progression model.

Due to manual labour and generally what you’ve posted in the past your work capacity is actually significantly above average :fist:t2:

Read the article, like Jim says can do sprints/prowler/ HIIT sessions on off days if want to keep building “pure work capacity

Bottom line 5/3/1 plain works have seen 100+ responses like this below over the years…


#6

Also triumvirate is just the start, there are a whole bunch of very heavy templates like hardgainers I posted before and many in the new books that you can move on to after a few cycles


#7

Thank you.


#8

It wasn’t too hard but made me sleep at night, I was thinking of going to the swimming baths a couple times a week, I watched AlphaDestiny on YT and he said doing an aerobic activity like swimming or cycling 12 hours after your workout will help you recover


#9

sure thats fine, just cap it at two sessions a week


#10

I was wondering, I feel like my biceps are also lacking, when I feel I’m getting good results from this plan I was wondering if I could incorporate the same methods on Preacher Curls or does the method only work for compound excersizes?, and instead of hanging leg raises I did the excersize where you lie down and raise your legs and thrust, I heard these target the lower abs more and my upper abs are great but the lowest head I don’t think is the best.

Edit: I was also going to start pressing from the rack “pin presses” instead of benching as I feel it would be better for my confidence going into the lift meaning I will add more weight.


#11

After a few cycles of triumvirate was going to recommend “Beach body challenge” variation anyway which is a great template and has a heavy bicep progression.

Generally tho biceps/arms is more about getting a lot of sets and reps in and really learning to build the mind muscle connection and slow negatives etc. For overall mass and better look in a t-shirt I also prefer incline and hammer curl moves focusing on the stretch at the bottom over ‘peaking’ moves like preachers

Abs, can do whatever, Leg raise variations do actually target lower abs though.

Pin presses -do you mean start from the pins?

As long as getting full range of motion and touching chest a tiny bit then fine. Also Jim emphasises that you should never miss reps on the main lift/always keep one or two in the tank, so failing and safety shouldn’t be an issue.


#12

Basically where you out the barbell on the rack on the guards at the hight of your chest when you lie on the bench and press, basically a bench press but with guards parralell to your chest it’s a lot like the floor press.


#13

ok sounds fine


#14

I am wondering can I run it like Blending Size and Strength so 2 days on 1 day off as long as the main lift is say squats then a bench the next day and should I wait another day to do aerobic activity?

Also on the same day of my OHP and Bench days can I add accersoriy movements from the other plan to my biceps?


#15

If 2 on 1 off means you might do 5 days of weights week then no.
4 days a week as its written -on the top set you are going for a lifetime rep PR so over time you will appreciate that it is only 4 days. If like being in the gym can do cardio/conditioning.swimming etc on off days. Have one whole day off excercise.

Like I said, on one of those days not both you can add 15 mins pump work, say
2 arm moves and side laterals for 4x12 each but thats it. Just the heavy pressing followed by dips alone will add beef to you arms.


#16

Do the program. You might be surprised at the results when you dont go out of your way to fuck it up.


#17

I have a slight dillemma, gym isn’t open on a Sunday is it is small and run by a local family so I’ve been on 3 days a week and weighed yesterday at somewhere over 71kg and the weight I lifted on week 2 on my OHP’s feels lighter so I am hoping for those to shoot up 5kg a week,

Week 1 - Weight: 68.7kg

Workout 1 - Week 1
Barbell OHP 1RM = 50KG
5x35kg (65%)
5x40kg (75%)
5x45kg (85%)
Dips 15x5 Sets

Workout 2 - Week 1
Dead Lift 1RM = 100kg
5x65kg (65%)
5x75kg (75%)
5x85kg (85%)
Good Morning 50kgx12x5 Sets

Workout 3 - Week 1
Bench 1RM = 75kg
(Replaced Bench with Pin Press)
5x50kg (65%)
5x60kg (75%)
5x65kg (85%)
D. Bell Bench Press 20kgx15 x5sets
D. Bell Row 35kgx10 x5sets

Week 2 - Weight 69.8kg

Workout 1 - Week 2
OHP 1RM = haven’t tested so still 50KG
3x35kg (70%)
3x40kg (80%)
3x50kg (100%) - other sets felt very easy so I upped 2.5kg each side
Dips 15x5 sets

Workout 2 - Week 2
D.Lift 1RM = 105kg (sets felt easy so call it that)
3x75kg (70%)
3x85kg (80%)
3x95kg (90%)
Good Morning 55kgx12x5 Sets
Floor Leg Raise EOS 2.5kg dumbell 15x5 Sets

Workout 3 - Week 2
Bench 1RM = 70kg
3x55kg (70%)
3x65kg (80%)
3x70kg (90%)
D.Bell Bench 20kgx15x5 Sets
D.Bell Row 35kgx10x5 Sets

Workout 1 - Week 3
OHP 1RM = 60kg
5x45kg
3x50kg
1x55kg
Dips 15x5sets
Chin up 10x5sets

I was even complimented as I was skeptical I could OHP my babyweight 55kg so I had a older lad spot me and he asked about the programme.

( I may make a 531 log )

As for cycling etc. Say if I was to change that to running 2x a week to try get to a 9 minute 2.4k run but still try to gain muscle and get stronger is running good to train legs, I am training to become a Personal Trainer but I am thinking about becoming a reservist but I want to be able to be sure I can still get to a life goal FFMI of like 24 so 86kg 12+% BF with my strength still reflecting my physique also say if I did a tour with the army it could be 6 months or more and all the running and meals could drain a lot of weight, I know I will gain it back fast but will I loose a lot of strength and can I do some bodyweight excersizes to loose it as I know the British Army’s Gym’s have basically only cable machines and when I went to join a recruit who passed his first phase told me that he was screamed at for using the dumbells.


#18

Er nope, you dont get the system yet.
You need to go back and re-read the whole article a couple times, even better find a copy of the book, ealso a great help if serious about being a PT.
Also read 3+ “blood and Chalk” articles of Wendlers on the t-nation part of the site.

-you calculate a training max which is a recent max minus 10% and it stays the same for the whole month/cycle. Next month you add the 5 and 10lbs to training max not the workout weight and recalculate the workout weight from that new training max

the top set you rep out and ideally push for lifetime rep PRs, (if feeling crap one day its just fine to get the minimum reps). You will be getting way over the minumum reps for the first few cycles, and shouldnt be close to hitting true 1RM for like 6 months

sooo, OHP training max is 45KG(50kg x0.90)
eg: workout 1 for week 3 the top/95% set should have been 42.5 ish(45x 0.95) you would then rep this out and get maybe 8 reps. Like Jim says starting light is key.

Running is fine but can hinder weight gain and for you personally will make it extremely hard. You will have to up your calories a ton. More a case of priorities. Combat section of the forum a good place to ask
As your weight gain has been subpar and basically plateaud for 6 months now I suggest you do something like have a small chocolate bar/1 donut with every post workout meal or up you calories by 500 every day until hit 76kg


#19

Ok so I should only increase weight after the training cycle?, I felt much stronger though on week 2 than on week 1 especially on Barbell OHP’s and I started a little Milk again sometimes I’ll just buy and drink 4 pints as it’s 1.5k calories for sub £1.50 and I feel as though I am seeing improvements on the scale, Also the gym have actually changed their times now so I can do sunday as it’s 10am-4pm

As for weights it did calculate 42.5kg for me but my gym only has 2.5kg plates I can put at each side of the barbell so I thought I’d just push it.


#20

Yep

Yeah everyone says this at beginning, doesnt matter tho stick to the system, this is addressed many times in the book. Among other thing hitting rep PRs workout after workout will catch up with you.

Always tempting but, If in doubt pick the lighter option.
As I’ve said before there are many heavier 5.3.1 templates you can try further down the line but you need to go through this phase first and “get” the methodology.