Quick Tips for Plateau Busting

Hey I’m new to the forums but I was told T-Nation was the place to go for info.

Anyway, I’ve been casually lifting for about 2 years. When I started I was also just trying to lose weight (i was 5’ 10" 178-180lbs), so i was more focused on cardio and running. Then I started running like a fiend and was doing 3-5 miles a day, and got down to 142lbs.

This last summer i decided to start bulking up and through lifting and supplements (creatine and whey and vitamins) I got to 155lbs.

But the problem is that I seem to have plateau’d. My bench is still more or less the same (145-150lbs for 3x8 reps) and the rest of my muscles are also more or less stuck at the same weights they were over the summer.

I’ve tried doing new types of exercises i.e cable resistance instead of just free weights and different exercises but nothing seems to really help.

I think part of the problem may be food, im usually not in a calorie surplus, do you need a surplus to gain strength? I know you need it for hypertrophy. Also what are you guys’ take on carbs?

I know im supposed to eat mostly whole grain carbs, and eat them in the morning and pre workout, and white carbs post workout so my blood sugar level rises and the carbs go to my muscles faster, but in general how much is a good amount to eat? 150g? 200g? What about carb cycling?

and finally I know its a big debate but protein wise, I’m getting around 1g/lb of body weight via protein powder and meat/cottage cheese at night for the slow digesting casein, but can too much protein prevent fat loss/strength gains?

anyway any help would be greatly appreciated,
thanks for reading,


Ok. If you want to add weight, you need to eat more.

If your strength has plateaued, eat more and change your workout. Maybe take a break for a week completely

Protein is not protein. solid food is prefered over whey, except post workout. Excess protein gets excreted through digestive tract.

Carbs are a individual thing experiment.

Good luck


I suppose i should talk about my schedule too

its roughly the following

Mon: chest
3x8 flat bench
3x8 incline
3x8 decline or chest flies
3x4 nose breakers or cable tricep extensions

Then judo for 2 hours which is some solid cardio (maybe thats hurting my gains too?)

Tue: Back

3x8 lat pulldown
3x8 rows
3x8 bar pull back (sitting leaning forward and pulling up a bar with weight)
alternate with dumbbell lat pullback on some weeks

3x8 hammer curls (or sit down curls/ incline curls/barbell curls)
3x4 cable bicep extension

Weds: Rest (2hrs of Judo)

Thurs: Shoulders

3x8 dummbell military press
3x8 frontal raises
3x8 lateral raises
sometimes I toss in some cable shoulder crossover

3x4 nosebreakers or tricep extension

Fri: legs

3x8 leg press
3x8 calf raises
3x8 leg extension machine (both inwards and outwards)
on occasion I do squats, but i find i have poor form and it hurts my knees so i dont do it often

3x4 forearm roll thing (the bar with a weight attached by string that you roll up)
20min of bike

Every day I also do ~100 situps/crunches and leg raises

Sat+sun rest

What’re you guys’ thoughts on cardio? Should I try to schedule weight lifting on days im not doing cardio?

Btw I dont want to gain weight, I want to lose fat but still gain muscle (maybe its impossible) but my fat loss hasnt really been all that much better either.

You should try 5x5.

you shouldn’t be on a freaken bodypart split for one :).

If you’re not interested in fetting leaner, lose the extra cardio. it’ll just burn more calories and if you already aren’t getting enough that’s not what you want. mix up the routine. try going with total body three days a week. and stop doing 100 situps every day.

o ya and try reading a couple of the articles on the site. learn to squat and deadlift.


I guess id rather be leaner for more definition but i cant seem to burn the fat without losing the muscle. thanks for the tips ill try the full body workout for a bit and see if i get better results

as for squats I can do them it just hurts my knees, deadlifts ive never been able to do

Deadlifts and Squats are probably two of the best mass/strength builders in the game. Not to mention they burn a hell of a lot of calories to help staying lean. You would definitely benefit from learning both.

As for your knees hurting, maybe your form is off. Theres plenty of articles around this site with tips on how to squat properly.

I guess ill have to start learning then,

Have any of you guys had any success with carb cycling?

I’ve only been doing it for about a month, but so far I’ve gained about 4 pounds, and I can still see the same amount of abs i could before, so I think I’m doing ok. I’ll let you know in a year.

It is possible to gain muscle while losing fat, but it requires an extremely strict diet with lots of lean protein sources. I, myself, have never bothered trying to gain muscle while losing fat because I know for a fact that I won’t be able to do it properly. No offense, but obviously you haven’t been doing it properly either and most people won’t be able to.

It’s a complex topic and for most people it’s best to pick a single goal, especially since you’re a beginner. If you think you hit a plateau already, you’re sadly mistaken.
Post an example of your daily diet. I can almost guarantee you if you eat a bit more instead of being in a caloric deficit, you’ll start making gains again.

I’d also recommend you get a new workout plan. Either pick one up off of T-Nation or read CT’s articles on how to design a damned good plan. Your plan right now is going to lead to muscle imbalances.

Just a comment about the squats: your knees hurting could just be a temporary thing since you don’t do squats right now. When I started doing squats my knees hurt for 2-3 weeks. Now no problem. Try doing a bunch of bodyweight squats every day just to get your body used to bending/moving in that way. That helped me.

Also, I’d echo what the other posters have said about deadlift. It’s awesome for legs and back, and you’ll get the form down pretty quick.

[quote]stormbringer73 wrote:
Ok. If you want to add weight, you need to eat more.

If your strength has plateaued, eat more and change your workout. Maybe take a break for a week completely

Protein is not protein. solid food is prefered over whey, except post workout. Excess protein gets excreted through digestive tract.

Carbs are a individual thing experiment.

Good luck[/quote]

Actually excess protein is converted to glucose and fatty acids, rather than exiting your system through you digestive tract.

ok cool thanks for the help,

I know what the guy above me said is right but im not sure if its stored after being converted (i would assume so) which would also explain why it requires so much energy to digest conversion from protein to glucose to fat via insulin & fat cells.

as for my diet I haven’t really been that strict so thats probably a factor too. since Im carb cycling it varies but on average

some walnuts
1 cup of oatmeal or bran cereal (or buckwheat pancakes or steel cut oats if i have the time)
1 apple
1 protein shake w/ some egg whites

snack: tuna fish with some whole wheat bread, (maybe an apple)

snack 2: cottage cheese/some kind of lean meat (horse or turkey etc…)

pre workout: some kind of whole wheat carb bread or pita or something with some nuts or peanut butter and some meat/other protein source

post workout: protein shake and some white carbs/banana, and some vegetables

Dinner: lean meat like salmon or horse and some vegetables and some cottage cheese

bedtime snack: cottage cheese and some nuts

I try to get around 1lb/body weight (150-155g) of protein and depending on the day anywhere between 100 and 250g carbs. I’m not really counting calories so I’m probably in a deficit or staying even more often than im in a surplus, I dont want to bulk up or add more mass but rather lose fat. If i really wanted to gain muscle/strength I’d just eat a shitload.I guess I was just wondering if it was possible to gain strength while losing fat, but if muscle mass and strength are linked then I understand my problem lol.

as for supplements: whey protein, vitamins, calcium, glutamine

you gotta change up the sets and reps. try something new, go real low with reps one week then go to 10 the next, personally i like pyramiding up then dropping weight for my last set. ends up being 10-8-6-4-6/8 (this is what works for me)
and like everyone else said eat a little more

I do drop sets occasionally but its funny how you become so static with weight sets, i’m gonna try high weight low rep full body 3x a week for a couple of weeks and see if i get some mass back