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What to Do When Stalling?


Morning all,

Hope this is posted in the right section, posted here as I am looking to build strength not bodybuild.

I have been training for around 2 years now but had the misfortune to start with split routines. Have been training full body compound lifts since the beginning of the year.

I came from the Madcow (Bill Star) Intermediate 5 x 5 to the below Advanced Novice Workout, is that a step backwards?

I am having some issues stalling on my lifts, I will hit my max one week and then for the next 3 weeks or so I cannot lift that and have to work back up to it. It is doing my head in!!

I am guessing I may need to eat more (always good place to start) maybe get more sleep but is there anything I should be changing in my workout? I am by no means an expert so I am never sure what is best to include / remove and why.

Should I just stick to the plan or should I add in accessory lifts to bring up my weak areas? (Like Bench Press lockout) I guess this is the old what to do when stalling question....

Also I have been kicking myself alot with form and technique and keep working on these so this may be having an effect.

Thank for taking the time to read.

Week A
Day 1
Squat 3x5
Bench press 3x5
Chin-ups: 3 sets, weight added so failure occurs at 5 to 7 reps
Day 2
Front Squat 3x5 OR Light Squat 2x5 (80% 5RM)
Press 3x5
Deadlift 1x5
Day 3
Squat 3x5
Bench press 3x5
Pull-ups: 3 sets to failure, unweighted

Week B
Day 1
Squat 3x5
Press 3x5
Chin-ups: 3 sets to failure, unweighted
Day 2
Front Squat 3x5 OR Light Squat 2x5 (80% 5RM)
Bench press 3x5
Power clean 5x3
Day 3
Squat 3x5
Press 3x5
Pull-ups: 3 sets, weight added so failure occurs at 5 to 7 reps


What are your maxes on all lifts? Might be too much work for you now.


Thanks for your reply!

These are the weights I am using for the working sets: (Not huge I know)

Bench Press = 100kg ~ 220lb-ish
Squat = 140kg ~ 308lb-ish
Deadlift = 160kg ~ 352lb-ish
Clean = 70kg ~ 154lb-ish
OH Press = 60kg ~ 132lb-ish

I currently weigh around 80kg ~ 172lb to 175lb

What's your thoughts? (Also are these numbers any good?)


That's what programs like 5/3/1 are for. You are never working with your max weight, so you are less likely to hit stall points. (or at least they are farther apart).

I was doing a 5x5 before 5/3/1 and was having that exact same result. My head was getting so messed up, the constant failure to improve was really killing my motivation.

You also seem to be just concentrating on the big lifts and not doing any assistance work at all, other than chins. Adding some stuff in like rows, direct tricep work, direct hamstring work, ect, all will help toward pushing the bigger lifts up. (mind you I am no expert, I am merely a pupil of the masters, but I can attest this stuff works)


I am doing no assistance work currently.

However twice a week I do a mini circuit of:

10 x Hanaging leg raises
10 x Turkish Get Ups
10 x Reverse Crunches

I am toying with adding in Good Mornings and Hyper Extentions to help bring up posterior chain for Deadlifts & Squats.

Also thinking of direct tricep work to bring up Bench Press lockout.

However I didn't know what the best plan was.

1) Drop all work apart from the plan
2) Add in the direct work to bring up the weak areas

Also I am open to best ideas for exercises to bring up these areas.


Those are pretty good numbers for your size and experience level. But don't worry about how good they are, just focus on making them better.

Are you doing all 3 sets of 5 with the same weight? If so you could try only doing the heaviest weight for your last set. So for Squat you would do something like 120kg x 5, 130kg x 5, 140kg x5 instead of doing 140kg for all 3 sets.

I'm also assuming that you're working up to that top weight normally anyhow and not just jumping in at 140kg and going for it. What does a typical workout look like with all sets and reps including non-work sets?

I am not that familiar with madcow so forgive my ignorance.


This is not the madcow one so don't worry about that.

I will use Squats for an example:

Warmup - 2 x 5 reps @ 20kg (just the bar)
Warmup - 1 x 5 reps @ 50kg
Warmup - 1 x 3 reps @ 80kg
Warmup - 1 x 2 reps @ 110kg
Warmup - (Sometimes I will add in 1 x 1 125/130 here so 140 does not feel like a ton. Depends how the weight feels that day)
Working Sets - 3 x 5 reps @ 140kg

Same plan for bench etc

So you think only doing the 1 set of 5 with 140kg the rest working up to it? I guess if it is still within 80% it will still be working.....


Do Day 1 and Day 3 of both weeks use the same intensity level?

You could also try a Heavy/Light/Medium approach if you want to keep doing the 3 sets with the top weight.

Day 1 would be heavy, 3 sets of 5 as heavy as you can go. Day 2 would be light with 80% of what you can do on your heavy day. Day 3 would be medium with 90% of what you do on your heavy day. Deadlift would still be 1 heavy set of 5, cleans would be 5 sets of 3 but not going balls-out, just a weight you can handle and accelerate well.

I've read Practical Programming and I'm 90% sure that this is what the intermediate program entails. That and Starting Strength are worth every penny. Buy them if you can.

I like your idea of doing a single with 125 before you go to 140. A 30kg jump is too big. ~10% of 1RM increases is the maximum I would go for when you get close to your working weight. So around 15kg for squat, 10kg for bench, etc.


Day 1 and Day 3 do have the same intensity but the bench and press swap round.

So could do a light/medium/heavy with the squats. Doing so with the press or bench would get confusing as it isn't contained all in one week. (Would take about a 1 1/2 weeks)

Thou I guess if I am reining in the squat one day it should allow for better rest and more effort on the other lifts too.....

Hmm... Thanks for those ideas and thanks for your time.