T Nation

Switching Up Your Programs, Beating Plateaus


Pretty straight forward question here. I have been on a set program for 5 weeks now. I have all my weight training timed out and recording my gains. My increase in weights has been very encouraging but with some of my exercises i have hit a plateau, ie. Bench press, preachers curl with barbell etc. I am about to switch up my program but i would like to keep the exercises that i am still productively progressing on in my new routine since i am not hitting plateaus on them. Good or bad idea mixing new with old?



How long has your plateau been, what have you tried already to break it, and why do you think a new program after only 5 weeks? Also, give us your current program with lifts/reps ranges.


have you tried uppping the cals to see if you can break through the plateau


The reason for fast change is due to my studies, Human Kinetics, which lead me to believe that the body adapts very quickly to exercises. So in theory switching up your routine,reps,sets,timing etc, will keep your body guessing and stimulating different muscle fibers. I have been stuck on 95 pounds on preachers curls for over a month now, and in all the years i have never been successful at increasing that weight with all my given energy and strength. On other compound exercises i increase weight productively ie squats, dead lifts, shoulder press. But my bench press and compound arm exercises just cant get that extra boost. I have had major success with incline dumbbell curls so i would like to stick with that in the new routine......


DropShot001- I was not aware an increase in calories helps with plateaus, but since i have been trying to bulk i have been consuming a high amount of clean foods, eating every 2 1/2 hours. I thank my new caloric intake for the gains i have seen in the last couple of months.


It would be useful, indeed!


That doesn't mean you have to change EVERYTHING! That's not the way to go about it. It can be as simple as changing JUST the exercise. So, if you have stalled on preachers, go to DB's or standing barbell curls. If you've stalled on bench, go to incline bench. Do those till you stall, and go back. You will move passed your previous plateau quickly.


Alright my current program, it's a 6 day split ABC X ABC , i have inserted an * beside the exercises i have plateaued on

Day 123- Heavy, 25 reps total with 5 reps max-1 minute rest
Day 567-Light, 40 reps total with 10 reps max- 30 seconds rest

A: Shoulders;
Front raises*
seated barbell pushups front*
seated barbell pushups rear
cable-rear delt pull*

Cable bent over triceps extension ( i have maxed out on the available weight)
Incline dumbell curl
triceps barbell pullover
Dumbell preachers curl*
Barbell biceps curl
hammer curl
shoulder shrugs

B:Chest Back
Bench press*
standing lat pull down, cable tower
dumbell incline bench press
barbell bent over row
cable standing fly*
close grip pull down cable
dumbell bent over row
machine bench press*
seated row

Dead lifts
lying leg curl*
cable hip abduction*
glute kickback machine*
seated calf raise
lower back raises with plates


Are you gaining bodyweight?


I have gone from 165 to 168 in 5 weeks


You know what, I posted a really mean post before I decided to edit it.

Because, really, I'm a nice guy.

Is that 95lb a side on db preachers?

You have 4 curl variations in your program. And you are worried about stalling on one of them... I mean, really man...

What's your set/rep scheme?

Have you tired deloading and working back up?

I am not surprised that you are stalling on leg extensions etc. After squats + deadlifts your legs SHOULD be fried.

Here's a thought for you...

On the day that I work deadlifts, I also work chins or pull-ups. As my deadlift increased, my chins/pull-ups steadily decreased. This is because the increased workload of the deadlift had fried my back. If I decided to put chins infront of dl's, maybe my numbers would improve, and my deadlift would stall. If I re-tested my one set max for chins now I'm sure they have improved a whole shit load over a few months ago, despite the lowering in numbers of reps in my workouts.

The point is, I don't give a shit about how many chins I can do after doing DL's. My deadlift numbers are going up and that's the main exercise, the main focus, in that workout.

And sure, I've only been training for about 6 months. Maybe with your years of lifting experience you know so much more than I do.

Do you really really NEED to be seeing progress in, or even DOING, leg extensions, glute raises etc etc etc if you're seeing progress in squats and deadlifts? Do you really NEED 4 curl variations, and if you do decide that your inner upper bicep (or whatever) really needs the extra stimulus, then is it really important to be seeing progess on your lower outer (whatever) bicep exercise?
I assume that the exercises in the shoulders day are a standard press and a behind the neck press... do you really NEED both? Do you really NEED to see progress in both?

I hope this gives you something to think about.


You are over-thinking this to death. Go back to the basics.

#1: Decide on your goals
You're doing a lot of stuff, but it doesn't seem to have a purpose. Once you decide on a direction, drop anything that doesn't move you in that direction. Wanna squat 405? cool. Cable hip abductions won't help toward that goal, drop 'em.

#2: Simplify
You should have one main, heavy compound exercise for each plane of movement. It should be done first in the list of exercises for that group. It is also the one you base your progress on. Then get your extra work in with supporting moves. As long as my bench press numbers are moving up, I don't worry about 'stalling' on my incline DB presses.

#3: EAT
How can you expect to move more weight when you're not giving your body what it needs to build more muscle? Three lbs in five weeks isn't terrible, but try eating enough to gain a pound per week. Trust me, it's hard to eat too much when you're eating clean. I had to throw in some burgers and dark meat chicken to get rid of those pesky abs.

Get the basics down and then worry about the details. Just because you're studying kinesiology doesn't mean you're required to treat it like rocket science.



Turns out he's a nicer guy than I am.

But this is alot of what I was trying to say.


Why do you want to progress with anything? You already look pretty big in your avatar...


Thanks, that has definitely put things in perspective. Makes sense to focus on specific exercises and use those gains as a guide.


You're a lot less annoying when you don't post. Go back to BB.com

This is the beginner forum, where beginners are allowed to ask beginner questions. Judging by your lack of pics and/or lifting stats, I'd say you probably need to start asking more questions and stop douching so much.

At least the OP has balls.


Listen, Knight in the Shining Armour, I simply have too high T level after being here for a couple of days so I got a bit cocky.

But seriously - i probably have no patience to write in the beginners forum.

Oh, and your pictures don't make you much better than me.

  • Yea, for sure.


Lol if you don't have any patience to write in the beginners forum then don't.


Ok heres my 2 cents on your plateus...

1) Front raises-This exercise is one of those were you utilize intelligent cheating, so if you wish to continue doing them don't be afraid to use a little momentum. But to be honest, this is not an exercise I would worry about. They should be last on your shoulder day.

2) Rear delt- A small muscle group, isolating this and hoping for continued progression isn't going to get you far I'm afraid. When I do exercises like these I aim more for the pump and mind muscle connection.

3) Barbell "pushups" - Progressing here is almost 99% possible by making it your first exercise instead of front delt raises.

4) Dumb bell preachers- once again, if you are having trouble, put it first or switch to EZ bar

5) Bench Press- Consider dropping the machine press at the end, there is really no reason for it and probably all it's doing is hurting your recovery

6) Cable flies- Who gives a fuck

7) Leg Curl- You just did squats AND deadlifts, progression here will be slow for the sole reason of accumulated fatigue. Don't be afraid of throwing in some half reps or slow negatives here if you feel the need.

8) Drop hip abductor and glute thing, no reason.

9) What's with the antagonistic approach? i.e. doing a chest exercise, then a back then chest again etc etc? I don't see a reason for that. Eat more, sleep more.

Hope this helps


Just stop trying to be clever. It's not working.

And according to your stats, you're not doing much better than the OP. I admittedly have a long way to go, but I'm on track because of the help I've received here.

If you have something to contribute, by all means, post. If you're just gonna make a feeble attempt at being witty, STFU.