T Nation

Novice Started SS 3x5, Hit a Wall


Age : 21 / Male
Height : 5ft 11in
Weight : 210 lbs
Goal : Getting my 3 main lifts to a decent number

Background: I have been working out for about 2 years. I got into working out after high school. Like most people who start off my workouts sucked but I did what I thought was right. So I read that doing the main lifts was the right thing to do. So I did some stupid modification of SL, like an idiot I varied the sets between 1-3 and the reps of 1-3 on my squats. Anyway I got my lifts up to
Squat : 240 1 x 5 (Set x Rep)
Deadlift : 260 1x5
Overhead Press : 135 3x3
Bench Press : 185. 3x3
But mind you those lifts were pretty much like 3-5 rep maxes.

Where I am at today: So I decided to revamp my program and switch to SS, but unfortunately I am not allowed to do cleans at my gym. So I have to do Barbell backrows. Anyway I went ahead and cut my lifts by about 25%. So I started off doing 3x5 sets of
Squat : 185
Deadlift : 210
Overhead Press : 100
Bench Press : 135

So everythings going good and boom I hit a wall. I have currently stalled on my squats 3 times @ 245.
Workout Log (Squats only, I do the other lifts prescribed in the program)
Aug. 05 245 4/3/0
2 Day Break
Aug. 08 245 5/5/2
Aug. 10 245 5/3/4

So now I at my first official stall I guess you can say. I am following the program. I am sleeping like a puppy. I am eating like a horse. About 3000+ calories. I mostly eat clean, milk, protein, eggs, oatmeal, veggies, nuts, and fruit. Unfortunately my income doesn't allow for supplements, but if I do have extra cash I buy whey protein.

The Problem: The problem is I have been doing this program for about 2-1/2 months. I am a litle upset because I worked my way up with no stalls and then I hit 245 and I stalled, the exact same spot I was right before I stalled. I realize that I may have reseted a bit to much on my lifts. What should I do? Should I just take the 10% reset and start at 220 on my squat or since I am hitting the 3 month mark should I start a new program. I realize that I am weak and I want nothing more than to get my main lifts up. So instead of making stupid decisions I am asking for advice.


you could try reseting your lifts and bump you calories up to 4000 a day, if ur still stalling and want to focus on you mainlifts do texas method or 5/3/1


Okay, I will try increasing my calorie intake. Do you think I am at my point of not being able to easily progress linearly on my squats? My other lifts are still increasing. Except my Overhead press, I think I am going to stall on it soon.


i think the extra food might keep you going for a little while longer


add reps. you're stuck on 245 x5 squats. go back down to 200, and do 4x6, add 2.5lb every time. OR go down to 220lb and do 10x3 and add 2.5lb every time. you're only doing 45reps a week at the moment, it nothing, do more. im doing 72 plus 100+reps of hamstring work


Based on my personal experience with starting strength, stalling usually boils down to one of three things: (1) Food, (2) Sleep, (3) Rest Periods. You said you are sleeping enough, so I'm assuming you are getting your 8 hours every night. You mentioned that you are eating 3000 calories a day, but at 210 body weight that seems too low. Bump up the calories, 4k should do the trick. Last, but probably most important, is rest periods. How long of rest do you take between sets? Try increasing rest between sets. 6-7 minutes is pretty typical, but I've heard of people going up to 15 minutes to break through a plateau.

Try those things for a couple weeks, if they don't work, deload 10% and work your way back up, I guarantee you'll break through the plateau.

On a side note, I sometimes stall for weird reasons that I can't explain. I'll just go 2-3 weeks where I don't make progress, or maybe even lose a rep or two. Then all of a sudden, without warning I'll break through it and have several weeks of consistent gains. Bottom line is just keep hitting it hard and you'll get through it eventually.


One more comment. It's way too early to worry about switching to a new program. You have lots of room to grow left on starting strength before needing an intermediate program. I stalled 3-4 times with full resets before I switched to intermediate program.


I think this is the problem. Like I am at a mental block. I am going to try to eat more. Since I have stalled for 3 squat(3x5)workouts in a row, should I drop the 10% and start over? Or continue at 250 and try to get 3x5? Thanks again


What do your rest periods look like? I would try again with LOOOOOONG rest periods, maybe like 10-15 minutes, just to be on the safe side. Really get your head in the game and get aggressive with the bar. If you still fail today, deload 10% and work your way back up with more food.


My rest periods are like 4-5 mins. I will try longer rest periods. I will try this one more time. If I fail I will restart 10 %. Thanks again


Good luck buddy. Let us know how it works out. Definitely try a longer rest period. Sometimes it takes me longer than 5 minutes just to get my head in the game because squats are so brutal on the whole system.


5/3/1 or Juggernaut method


Eating more will do the trick, I can just about guarantee you. I was eating 3k @ 170lbs, and had to bump it up to around 4k to push past the 200lb mark.

It sucks. Eating when you're not hungry becomes a chore. Feeling full, bloated, and sometimes nauseous isn't exactly a great time, but it gets the job done. You get used to it, eventually.


try a different rep range - 8-10 or even 20, and work your way back up in weight at that range. by the time you get stuck on this and go back to 5 reps it should be a good deal higher

Might also find it a good idea to just do one all out set at the top weight (add extra sets afterwards at lower weight to make up for the total volume if desired).


i'm surprised nobody recommended box jumps or other types of explosive work.


do box jumps or other types of explosive work.


Other than eating and sleeping more, try lowering the weight and focusing strictly on form. Also, pay attention if there's any significant stress in your life, that can also be a factor.


yeh do the 10% reset. I finally got around to reading 5/3/1 and when you stall, JW recommends recalculating your estimated 1RM and then using new percentages based on that. so lowering weights would be taking a few steps back in order to keep moving forward.