T Nation

When Gains Stop: More Recovery or More Stimulus?

Hey CT, a little shop talk here that perhaps we can all benefit from.

Lets say you are on a program that is generating results - in other words you are providing adequate stimulus and recovery in order to move forward - and then the results slow to a crawl or stop… or even regress. I think we have all been in any one of these scenarios at different times.

Given your experience with so many people Id be curious to know how you decide what to do from there in terms of adding/removing/or changing the program?

Hi Lonnie,

Can’t resist supporting this question, since I asked the same a couple of months ago - it will be interesting to follow the response from both CT and other trainees in this thread. CT has written some excellent articles on T-nation about this.

The key element here is adaptation, which results in no development or even regression. I have met this with great variety in both excercise selection, cadences and even sped up rest between excercises. No workout will ever follow standardization (a strict program). Currently under evaluation, but it brings back some excitement to the equation. My origin is HIT-based, so my major change in general is adding a little more volume.

Looking forward to see what others have to say on this.

The first thing I do is change the type of stimulus, not the amount. The further away from what you’ve been doing, the better.


Thanks. I don’t read the articles daily like I used to so I missed this one.

No worries, but it’s likely exactly what you need

1 Like

Thanks CT, does this kind of indicate that you should stick with a specific theme style wise for a workout instead of mixing them.

For example a typical bro workout might be

Bench 5x5, incline db 3x10, and cable flies 3x20

Might it be better to stick to the same general stimulus rep range and then switch it up after 3-6 weeks? Like 5x5, then 3x6, then 3x10 so they aren’t too far apart from each other.

Or perhaps more in line with your training ideas to have multiple sessions in a week, to have bench 5x5 on one day, then incline DB 3x10 on other day, then switch those up 3-6 weeks later independent with a new stimulus. Like adding RP to the bench and slowing the negative on the DBs

Although, this is mostly for hypertrophy training yeah?

Well, 5x5 and 3x6 aren’t a different type of stimulus. And even 3x10 isn’t that novel in terms of muscle demands.

It’s really more about more profound changes. For example contraction types, the nature of the workout (training like a bodybuilder, then switching to more powerlifting training for example), the hypertrophy pathway for example going from muscle damage work (which is best accomplished with sets of 5-10 reps) to growth factors focus (done with sets lasting 40-70 seconds under tension). Using more partial/overload work, etc.

To be effective if you are trying to change the type of stimulus by only changing the loading schemes, the difference has to be dramatic. Otherwise you’d need to combine loading schemes and repetition style changes.


genetics and age is huge factors . not program and diet change nature .
everybody search optimal sets,reps ,rest,sleep,but if you listen your body will
recover better .
keep training :v: