T Nation

Stalled On All My Lifts


I've been doing Mark Rippetoe's Starting Strength program nearly a month now and have made what I consider very good gains, at least for a beginner. However, my last few workouts haven't gone so well.

Start Date: 8/17/09
- Squat: 110lbs
- Bench: 100lbs
- Deadlift: 135lbs
- Press: 85lbs

Today: 9/16/09
- Squat: 180lbs, Stalled today. I completed one set of five and two sets of two.
- Bench: 155lbs, Stalled two workouts ago. I usually get 5 reps, then 4, then 3.
- Deadlift: 215lbs, This actually hasn't stalled at all, I'm sure I'll get 225 this Friday.
- Press: 110lbs, Stalled today, same reps as my squat. 5, 2, 2.

My question is whether I should lower the weight and do higher reps, stay the course and progress as best I can, even if it's just one extra rep per workout, or change my routine entirely? I really like this template and have noticed my strength is really starting to develop. I also do weighted pull-ups and dips and really want to learn the power clean so I can do the actual program. What are everyone's thoughts?


great work on the gains, you have chosen an excellent beginners programme.
okay, i will be the first to ask it, DIET?!?!? very important ur eating enough of the good stuff at the right times.
How active are you out of the gym? do you sit in your room all day or do you dig ditches for a living? this can seriously affect your recovery between training sessions
Are you achieving correct form on all lifts and all reps? where do you train? is it possible to get coaching?
What anciliary exercises are you doing?

i would recomend going down to the weight where you can actually do 5 sets of 5 reps with good clean form, knock 5-10lbbs off and start from there and work back up.

 If you get really stuck, try 5x5 pyramids: eg OHP 85lbs x5, 90lbs x5, 95lbs x5, 100lbs x5 and 105lbs x5. those are the max reps to achieve each set, on the last sets doesnt matter so long as you get more than 2 or three reps. increase the weight by 5lb each session. i found this really helps with pressing movement plateus.


-make sure you've actually stalled. gaining 1 more rep a workout is still progress.
-follow the reps as written, are you sure you're eating enough and resting enough?
-rippletoe mentioned what to do when you stall. i dont know it off my head but theres a SS thread somewhere here by Otep, it'll surely have all the info you need

other than that, im sure others will be able to help more.


I would say deload 10% on your lifts and continue the program ramping up past your plateau.

Also your diet could very well be the limiting factor on your progress. You need to eat more. Mark recommends a gallon of milk per day, I would keep that in mind.

You want to get as much out of this style of progression as possible because it will never be this easy to add weight again.

Good luck.


I'm currently doing SS as well and I had a similar experience. You need to ask yourself some questions:

  1. Are you eating enough?
  2. Are you resting enough? (In between workouts AND in between sets)
  3. Are you doing any other exercises that could be dropped? (think db curls, chins, etc.)
  4. Does your form need work?
  5. Are you pushing yourself hard enough?
  6. Are you microloading yet?

It seems a little early for you to reset based on your numbers (mine aren't so great yet either, but they're still progressing) so I'd suggest reflecting on these questions and being honest with yourself.


Oh, and to add to my previous post, definitely do the power cleans. I was plateau-ing at about 245lbs on DL for the longest time, then I added the cleans as recommended by Rip and I shot up to pulling 305lbs like it was nothing. I'm actually excited about DLing again.


Sorry to hog the thread, but I noticed in your profile that your 6'1 at 180lbs. You could probably do GOMAD for a couple of months and see some very rapid gains. Be aware that you will gain fat, but it's easy to lose when you stop GOMAD. It's much harder to gain muscle without the extra calories and saturated fat that you get from whole milk.


As far as my diet goes, I'm definitely eating plenty.

  • Beans
  • Rice
  • Tuna
  • Milk
  • Whey Protein
  • Salmon
  • Veggies
  • Lots of Fish oil and vitamins
  • Nuts
  • Eggs

I eat as much of this as I can all day. I often eat when I am not hungry just to add some calories. My form on my bench press and OH press are pretty spot on. Very strict about it. My squat is pretty damn solid too, it's fairly wide and my legs stay solid throughout the movement. I'd say I work on bar position more than anything, and making sure to look slightly down rather than forward. I get PLENTY of rest. I am currently unemployed and therefore do hardly any labor besides going to the gym everyday, and I get long, sound sleep to boot.

I think my best bet is to learn the power clean and really push myself. Like you guys said, one extra rep isn't technically stalling. Thank you guys for all your input. I already feel more confident about my next workout.


This is all off the top of my head, but here's what I remember from starting strength about resetting.

Basically you haven't stalled until you fail three times to complete the 3 sets of 5 at a given weight. So for your squat, you havent stalled yet. Just take the same weight next time and try for more reps. Once you fail 3 squat workouts in a row, you reduce the weight by 10% for you next workout. Then you go back to adding 5 (or 10 or whatever) pounds per workout, until you stall again.

Only once you've reset 3 or 4 times do you move on to another program.


I know Rip would ask "Where are the Cheeseburgers?".


This and add try adding an extra 500 cals a day regardless of how much you're currently eating, it's usually what Rip recommends


Thanks my weight-lifting chums!