T Nation

How to Burst Through Plateaus?


Hello, I've been lifting weights for about two years now, and have had great results as a Power Lifter and as a Body Builder. the last 7 months, I've Stayed the same in my Strength for my Primary core lifts. Actually, my Bench-press dropped around 20 pounds, and I have no conclusion to why that happened. I've read some articles and came across something called the conjugate system; West Side Barbell version though. Unfortunately, Having lots of different variations of a core exercise is almost impossible, since I go to a rec center which has a very small gym, giving me very limited options to what I can do.

I do Squat and Dead-lift. I've altered the sets and reps and rest periods plenty of times, trying all sorts of wacky stuff like cluster sets and ect. I don't think that this is a case of over training either. I do about 3-5 exercises for around 3-8 sets (higher if the rep range is lower) for about 3 days a week with 1-2 days of rest in between of every workout. I eat decent like, some junk food and Lots of lean meats and vegetables along with plenty of Juice. Perhaps that's all takes to be getting inadequate results from some junk food. Thanks, I'm looking forward to the optimistic feedback.


On your raw scale weight (forget bf%), if you aren't gaining a bit consistently over time you aren't eating enough. Try eating more for a month or two and see how you are then. The longer you lift the more plateaus you will hit. Remember the plateaus are just as important to your overall increases as the times of gain. Also, look at some programs and follow them, madcow, 5/3/1, cube method, etc. just pick one and follow it. If after three months it is not working well then switch.


You have plenty of options for lift variation for Westside conjugate style lifting.

You have 3 or even more different grips you can use. You can make or buy boards for board pressing. You can floor press. You can buy some bands. You can buy yoga blocks use those as a kind of board press. You can make a ghetto slingshot out of bands. You can do dead benches at various heights. And of course the various combinations of these.

For squat variations: if you squat low bar wide stance, you can squat high bar narrow or vice versa, front squats, you can set up a box with aerobics steps, you can use bands, you can use a heel lift or omit a heel lift you use WL shoes already, you can set up the box at different heights and you can do the different kinds of squats at different heights. There's also zercher squats. You can pause squats too.

For deadlift, you can use power rack pins at different heights but I'd keep bar below your knees. There's deficit pulls, snatch grip pulls, sumo or convenional and combinations of these. Some people like max or heavy effort good mornings too.

5/3/1 or Texas Method might not be bad if you want to keep it simple. You could also try Ed Coan's approach. You can find programs and calculators online. You could also make a program based on Prilepin's table or just do a starting sheiko program. If you make one based on Prilepin's table, just set up a heavy, medium, and light and/or speed day.

Also, your form might be holding you back.

How long do you stay on any program at a time? Program hopping can mean death to progress.


Thank you for the answer; That might be reason actually. On average I was having two meals a day, leading me to now think that my food consumption quality and quantity might be low. I've heard plenty of good things about 5/3/1, but seams like to me that the overall weight progression is a bit slow, compared with when I tried Strong-lifts. Still I remember him saying that it's steady slow progression so you wont Plateau.


Thank you, I never really thought of switching the grip to do a variation of the movement neither with trying rack pulls and Ect. I'll be sure to remember this when contemplating about what exercises what I want to use on my routine next time. Form in my opinion seams to be effecting my results minimally in a negative way. I squat to where I'm parallel, while dead-lifting, my lower back isn't the only main target, and my Bench primarily revolves around triceps strength and Front delts with minimal pec action, but next time I go to the gym, i'll be sure to record my lifts as I do these exercises; you can never be to careful. I do switch routines quite a bit, about once a month if my progress has stayed the same. Hearing this now, I'll be sure to stick with the whole program for at least 3 months.


Frankly, the only real mistake is to not pick a program and stick to it. 5/3/1 is great but you are right the progrssion is slow. That is the brilliance of the program though in many ways. Once you are past newbie gains it is a more accurate reflection of the body's ability to add strength/muscle.


10lbs a month is pretty damn fast. Stop thinking of progression in terms of weeks, and start thinking long term. That's 120lbs a year. In 3 years , that's 360lbs. Do you want 360lbs on your squat? There's no magic bullet to strength. You have to put in a lot of hard work.


Not to mention, you can add a lot of extra reps on your AMRAP set if you really are making progress faster than the 5-10lb. If you really wanted, you could take maxes after 3-6 months and re-calculate your training maxes like that. Most people have to reset maxes because they progress slower than the 5-10lb jump a month.

What programs have you tried and how long have you tried each one? And not that you've been lifting for 2 years your newbie gains may have tapered off so that means you have to train smarter and progress slower.