T Nation



Hey everyone! I've been powerlifting for almost 2 months now, and I'm getting ready for my first meet in Chicago in April. I have been on my routine for 8 weeks now and I might be starting to see a plateau. Here is my week to week progress up to this point for the squat and bench. (Deadlift I only do a couple times a month, too much for my back.)

Week 1: Squat- 5x3x315 (5 sets of 3 reps for 315 lbs), Bench- 5x3x225
Week 2: Squat- 5x3x325, Bench- 5x3x230
Week 3: Squat- 5x3x335, Bench- 5x3x235
Week 4: Squat- 5x3x345, Bench- 5x3x240
Week 5: Did not squat because my back was sore and I needed to rest. Bench- 5x3x245
Week 6: Squat- 5x3x355, Did not Bench this week because of pain in my arm (refer to side note below)
Week 7: Squat- 5x3x365, Bench- 5x3x250 (First 2 sets of bench I hit all 3 reps, next 3 sets I could only get 2 reps)
Week 8: Squat- 5x3x375(First 3 sets I hit all 3 reps, next two I could only get 2 reps), Bench- 5x3x250(First 3 sets were fine then next two sets I only hit 2 reps)

Sidenote: for about a month, I was playing baseball in a league. I took bench off week 6 because I pitched in a game and I overdid it a little. in result, my arm was taxed, sore, and pretty much dead. for week 7 and 8, I have definitely felt it in my right arm, not pain, but just the inability to push more. basically, my left arm is stronger than my right arm right now.

As for the rest of my routine, here is what it all looks like:

Monday- Squat 5x3, Bench, 5x3, Leg Curls 5x10
Tuesday- off
Wednesday- I switch off between deadlift and stiff legged deadlifts week to week. Deadlift i'll do 3x3, stiff legs i'll do 5x10. Military Press 5x5, CG bench- 3x5, Dips, 3x10
Thursday- Closegrip pullups 3x10, Widegrip pullups 3x10, Barbell rows 5x10, Barbell curls 15, 10, 8, 6, 4
Friday- Light squats for form- 3x5, Light bench for form- 3x5, Incline bench- 5x5

So basically, I feel as though I could be plateauing. I feel I should just fight through it and try the week 8 weights again for week 9. Does anyone else have any ideas?


Me personally I would keep going for a few more weeks. You might not be getting your reps for all sets of 5 but you're still getting them on that first set. When I lift the only thing that matters is that first set. If I set a new record then I don't really give a shit how many reps I get on the next sets... those are only to facilitate the gains I made from the first set. You're not going to be able to do 5 sets of 3 for much longer. I would drop it down to 4 sets of 3, then 2 sets of 3 just to drive your maximal strength up as high as possible.

But there are some other guys on here wayyyyy stronger than me so listen to them if they chime in.


I don't think your routine is optimal because you can't keep progressing like that forever (obviously)...if you are a newb, then it's pretty good as its built much like Starting Strength with the progressing weights...but for an intermediate or "advanced beginner" I would look into another routine..

You may want to consider deloading a week since you are beating yourself up week in and week out with progressing weights...

You may also want to consider lowering your weights back 10% or so, then going up again (I think this is how Rippetoe recommends addressing plateaus in SS).


What meet are you doing? I was thinking about a meet in April, as well.



I don't think you've hit a plateau, but you may need a different game plan. What is yours, exactly? Keep adding weight each week?

You missed your reps for bench 2 weeks in a row, time to change it up. Deload for a week for all your exercises. Also, I've always read to do a 3 week pendulum wave.

Do you feel those assistance exercises are helping you? Are those the only ones you do? I ask because it seems like you keep the squat and bench the same each week.


You can thank me later. Jk, this is a nice basic periodization scheme from Kroc. Use it for both squat and bench.
Week 1: 5x10x60% (5 sets of 10 reps @ 60%)
Week 2: 5x8x65%
Week 3: 5x5x70%
Week 4: 5x3x75%
Week 5: 5x10x60%
Week 6: 5x8x70%
Week 7: 5x5x75%
Week 8: 5x3x80%
Week 9: 5x10x60%
Week 10: 4x8x75%
Week 11: 4x5x80%
Week 12: 4x3x85%
Week 13: 5x10x60%
Week 14: 3x8x80%
Week 15: 3x5x85%
Week 16: 3x3x90%


Thanks for the post Malaka, but I'm confused...so in 4 months time (16 weeks), if my 1RM is 405 right now, I'm going to be doing 365, which is 90% of 405, for 3x3? Well right now I know I can do 5x3 for 365, so I don't really see how that is going to get me stronger. it just seems like I would be wasting 4 valuable months of training lol, no offense


cseagles- im planning on competing in the aapf nationals in chicago


vttrainer- im trying to just add on weight each week, 5 lbs to bench, 10 for squat. as for the assistance work, yeah thats all i do. sometimes i dont even do all of it. i keep heavy squat/bench for mondays and lighter squat/bench for fridays.


If you're beginning to plateau and you're not using percentage training, I'd probably start there. Work from a 1RM and follow 531 for powerlifting and see where it takes you.

1-3x3 60/70/80% of 1RM plus a few singles (nothing over 95%)
2-3x5 55/65/75% required reps only
3-531 65/75/85% of 1RM plus a few singles (nothing over 95%)
4-3x5 40/50/60% deload


Bosox, no offense taken! I know it might not exactly make sense, but all these percentages are based off of prilipins table. Many, MANY guys have used it with success. It is exactly what 5/3/1 is based off of as well. It works your motor pattern in the right percentages to increase your strength. I would keep adding weight until you cant, just like ur doing, and switch to something like this. Thats my opinion.


All of these numbers are making my eyes bleed.


Why did you ask 5 trillion questions and post a million threads about 5/3/1, and then follow some other program?


I personally think you need to change a lot with this program. I would guess that you need to hit the core much more than you are. Some days Dave Tate would hit core for half the session during ME days (not saying you need to do westside). Throw some heavy core work in.

You also need to work the upper back some more. Pullups are cool, but you might want some heavy trap/rear delt/erector work.

Where are your sticking points? Is your form locked down? Videos would help, of course. More tricep work may help too, but that's a shot in the dark with what you've given. Depends on the discrepancy between your bench grips -close, mid, wide


chris, why does it matter? that was 2 months ago? i ending up deciding it wasnt for me. im seeing alot of improvement from where i was because i decided to quit asking so many questions, keep it simple and just lift some heavy weight, which was what i needed to do because i wasnt getting anywhere with lifting sub maximal weight. i ask questions just like everyone else does, to get better. i feel i have a good question here for people to try and tackle because ive hit a point where i feel i may be running out of steam with what im doing.

vttrainer, i do think i need to tinker what im doing, but not tremendously. i agree, i need to hit the core more, and i think i need to hit hamstrings alot more. other than pullups and barbell rows, what else do you think i should do? and triceps i feel i could work more.

for the most part, my form is great on all 3 lifts according to my friend who has set world records in a couple federations for his age and weight class (21 yrs old, 198 weight class, 573 squat, 640 dead, 363 bench). I do tip forward on squats a bit (which for the most part, tends to happen when you go balls to the wall) and my knees tend to move in a tad (hamstring work i hope will fix this). also, my bench is sub par. right now, fresh, i know i can do 250 bench for 3, 375 squat for 3, and i pulled a 455 dead the day before thanksgiving, and i probably could have done close to 500.




Take this with a grain of salt, but in my experience, there are people who are monster strong and train like animals, but don't a fucking thing about lifting. That was in reference to your form advise from your buddy. Post a vid here when you get to those lifts, it will help you, a lot.

List of exercises? That's more personal preference really, that and equipment availability. Hit them as needed for that lift.
I might add in some PL style lifts that might mimic movements, but those are taxing at the same time.
For upper back, anything from pin pulls to DB shrugs.You prob could use something to help w your tightness in the squat, hitting goodmornings hard will help your form from bending over too much in the squat, but that deals with core strength/mobility too.

If you tip forward its not because youre going balls to the wall, though that helps to cause that. My quads suck, so when I get tired I just drop that down, not forward. My quads cant take over while yours can. You should hit the glutes and hams hard. GMs, pullthroughs, swings, glutebridge/hipthrusts, deadlift variations, GHR, you've got lots of options. Look at the exercise index on elitefts or browse through here.
Same goes for core stuff. Hit the low back good and hammer the abs. some prefer standing, but your core prob will benefit from whatever you toss at it now.


all of that sounds great VT! thank you!

Well I have definitely decided I need to switch it up. But I want to keep 2 days for squat/bench, one day being a heavier day and the other being technique/lighter. I was thinking something along the lines of the heavier day being 5x5 and the technique being more reps, like Arnold's 15,10,8,8,6,4 routine, which i've read is great for tendon building and overall conditioning. i'm not quite sure which direction to go in though with 4 months of training left before my first competition.

any ideas?