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Stalling. Which Program to Choose?

Hello forum,
I have been training for a program for about half a year now and I feel like im stalling. The program is twice a week and this is how it is and my latest lifts:

I increase the weight on each set, like Madcow’s program. I begin with 60% then I am at 100% on the last set.

Day A:
Squat - 87.5 kg 5 rep max
Bench press - 76 kg 4 rep max
Deadlift - 167.5 kg 1 rep max
Pendlay row - 68 kg 8x3
Barbell curl 28 kg 8x3

Day B:
Clean and press - 5 rep max 46 kg
Clean high pull - 4 rep max 91 kg
Front squat - 4 rep 90 kg
Pull-ups - 2x8 1x6 (with resistance band as support)
Dips 3x8 - BW + 9 kg 3x8

If I can do 5x5 on an exercise with a weight, I increase the weight the next time with 2.5 kg or 1 kg depending on the exercise. However, I am not stalling on almost all my lifts. I have not been able to increase weights in more than 6 weeks. As my lifts are not that high, I am thinking about changing to either Stronglifts or Madcow 5x5. What do you think? What would you recommend me?

Thanks in advance!

I would be in the gym for three hours a workout with that. What goal do you have? What are you trying to do?


That’s way too much volume in each session, and on heavy compound lifts.

I don’t really know what Madcow is but I have heard of some people getting pretty strong on it, that might be a decent idea. Stronglifts is a beginner program, it would be better than what you are doing but not that much better since you are already stalling. #1 problem is too much volume in each workout.

Are you planning to compete in PL? Cleans don’t really have any carryover to deadlifts, not more than actual deadlifts at least, from a powerlifting perspective you B day doesn’t make sense. Also I can’t really recommend anything in particular if I don’t know what your goals are.

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I recommend a program where you don’t do a maximal single on your deadlift each week.

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Run through programs off this site. Either of these a good start…

Sorry for maybe being unclear. The program is:

Day A:
Squat 5x5 (inceasing weight with 10% each set)
Bench Press 5x5 (inceasing weight with 10% each set))
Deadlift 5x5 (inceasing weight with 10% each set)
Pendlay Rows 3x8 (2 min rest)
Barbell Curls 3x8 (2 min rest)

Day B:
Clean and Press 5x5 (inceasing weight with 10% each set)
Clean High Pull 5x5 (inceasing weight with 10% each set)
Front Squat 5x5 (inceasing weight with 10% each set)
Pull-ups 3x8 (2 min rest)
Dips 3x8 (2 min rest)

I don’t see it as too much volume. Each workout takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes. My main goal is to get stronger, and perhaps compete in the future.

Im going on the limb by assuming your main goal isnt specifically Powerlifting but general strength training?

Yeah, not all the 5x5 sets are real work sets but maybe the last 3 would count, so that adds up to 9-15 sets with your optional stuff, which is quite a bit.

Also doing cleans and high pulls doesn’t make any sense for anything to do with powerlifting.

You would be better off choosing a pre-made program for sure, but since you aren’t really sure what you want to do I don’t know what to tell you. Maybe look at some 5/3/1 templates since there are a million different programs for all different goals.

It looks like your running a linear program at the moment, it’s the right thing for a beginner, but at a certain point everyone hits a plateau. Another consideration is that you are past the beginner stage and need to move to a different type of program. Another 5x5 LP would not be a good choice.

Could also be other factors like diet, sleep, stress that are hindering your recovery and ability to improve.

Without knowing what your specific goals are it’s hard to make a recommendation. If it’s actually powerlifting and or pure strength, run one of many good PL programs for intermediates.

Not sure what your goals are, but I would recommend 5/3/1 for beginners until you start to stall, then incorporate Leader/Anchor cycles.

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Everything Works But Nothing Works Forever

All programs eventually stall and stop working. It eventually leads to Overtraining, meaning you will lose ground; strength and size.

Periodization Training

One of the keys for maintaining progress is Planned Training Cycles; this is Periodization Training.

Planned Cycles

This means your exercises start off easy and the intensity progressively increased each week with either weight or repetitions.

The final week of the Training Cycle is pushing the exercise to near failure or failure.

The final week is then followed by starting a new Training Cycle with a light, easy load in the exercise being used.

The same protocol is used wirh progressively increasing the intensity to the final week, then starting a new Training Cycle.

Sine Wave Curve

Periodization Training amount to a Sine Wave Curve flow, going up then down and repeating it.

This method is used by athlete to make progress, increase size and strength. It works for everyone.

The General Adaptation Syndrome

The foundation of Periodization Training is built on The General Adaptation Syndrome. That means the body eventually adapts to a new stimulus.

When adaptation occurs, progress stops.

Active Recovery

Recovery is where muscles grow and become stronger.

Active Recovery means the use of lighter weight are used in the exercises. Doing so increases blood flow to the muscle, promoting faster recovery.

Backing off after the final week of maximal loading with a new Training Cycle provides Active Recovery.

Passive Recovery

This mean taking a week or two off and nothing. This isn’t as effective as Active Recovery.

One of the determinate factors in the length of a Training Cycle is…

Training Age

This means how long you have been training, not your chronological age.

Novice Lifer adapt slowly to a Training Program. They can preform the same program for much longer; between 8 - 12 weeks.

Advanced Lifer adapt to a Training Program quickly. They need to change their program often; between 3 - 6 weeks.

Varying Exercises

Another key to making progress is to vary/change your exercises.

Changing an exercise can be as simple as going from a Wide Grip Bench Press to a Narrow Grip Bench Press or Incline Bench Press.

Going from a HIgh Bar Squat to a Low Bar Squat or from a Wide Stance to a Narrow Stance Squat.

The Take Home Message

Training progress is best kept alive by…

  1. Periodization Training; A Training Plan that provide intensive training along with recovery.

  2. Varying Exercises: Changing Exercises.

There are several good online article on Periodization Training

Kenny Croxdale